Put Your School Fundraiser Plans in Motion

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School Fundraiser - Fundraising - 0

School Fundraiser Planning

Put Your Fundraising Plans in Motion

Today we’re going to talk about the important steps you’ll take once you’ve decided on the type of school fundraiser you’d like to have. You’ll need to complete some immediate tasks to get the ball rolling.

Below we’re providing you a sort of checklist to help outline the types of tasks you’ll need to accomplish. Remember that typically, the earlier you can do something, the better. Make time your friend, not your enemy.

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Enlist Help and Volunteers

Whether this is the first or the fifteenth time you are arranging a school fundraiser, it is important that you create a team of people to help get you across that finish line. It’s critical you choose the right people for right tasks. Form a committee and task them with different areas of responsibility following their skill sets.

You’ll probably need someone who knows a thing or two about construction if you are building booths for your school fair. You’ll need the same if you plan to construct a simple raffle stand to use at different school events. Getting the shop teacher on board might be your best bet. If you don’t have one a those, you may get lucky with your pool of volunteers.

One important job will be to expand your event team. Task one of your members with enlisting additional volunteers to get everything done. 

Pro Tips:

Take the time to ask your committee members to list some of the volunteer jobs they may need to fill and the description of those positions. Have your team focus on creating their own smaller groups to help them get their tasks done. 

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Find your Fundraisers Target Audience

Always keep your target audience in mind during each stage of planning your school fundraiser. Many organizers fail to identify who cares most about their cause, and they market too broadly as a result. They fail to focus on the target audience, and it shows when the event takes place.

For example, if you plan on fundraising funds for your graduation ceremony, your target audience is going to be a particular set of people.

For this event your target audience could include:

  • Graduating Seniors
  • Proud Parents
  • Siblings of Graduates
  • Extended Family Members

When considering your target audience, you need to figure out the type of event that would appeal to them most. If your community recently fought to prevent the opening of a casino, you may want to rethink holding a raffle event with cash prizes.

If you are trying to raise money for your school’s orchestra, you might have a hard time motivating students who don’t play an instrument. At the same time, you can have students who do reach out to their friends and family who support their musical talents.

 In order to craft the message that gets people excited, you have to figure out who you are trying to attract and the best ways to go about drawing them in.

Pro Tips:

Perform some brainstorm sessions to help think of great ideas. Pretend your school doesn’t have a track or a track team, but you want one to start the other. Who would you try to involve?  If the initial idea you have is harder than that, maybe you should rethink your fundraisers objective.

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Do A Little Research

As you go about planning your school fundraiser, we know you’ll use the internet to research. You can find just about anything online. Start with a basic “Google” search and go from there. You can find suggestions from others who have already held the same kind of event you are trying to host.

You can also find all sorts of Do-It-Yourself videos on things like decorating and hosting raffles. Someone else has already thought of those steps you might be missing.

Obviously, you should try using:

  • YouTube.com – For the many How-to Videos and Tutorials
  • Google.com – Search for topics like “How to plan a school raffle” and bam, you’ll get dozens of helpful results.

To get you started on your YouTube search, here are some videos about decorating your school’s venue:

How to Make a Balloon Arch

Paper Streamer Decorations

Graduation Centerpiece Decoration Ideas

Bookmark everything to save your Internet research and copy and paste the URL’s into an email to send to your team. You may want to look up or forward that terrific YouTube.com video to someone, and it will be so helpful to have it right at your fingertips!

Pro Tips: 

Don’t delay – get on the internet and start bookmarking your research to today!

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Crunch the Numbers (Assemble Your Budget)

Every school fundraiser needs to be as cost-effective as possible. It is critical that you total your costs before you finalize deals. The point of this whole thing is to make money for your objective, your cause, the greater purpose that got you and your team motivated in the first place. Make sure that in all the excitement you haven’t lost sight of the target you set.

Many people find that they go over budget very quickly. It happens to businesses all the time – ourselves included! But, the key to success is continuing to go back to your budget, checking and rechecking your numbers, so you don’t go off target. The largest reason for going over budget comes simply from failing to check what you’re spending as your spending it. It’s important to assemble a full budget, one with anticipated revenue, expenses, and profit figures.

Ditch the Faceless Giants

Always try to work with local vendors or small businesses. The big ones don’t care nearly as much as you do. Ask them if they can offer you a discount on this project by mentioning it’s for a school fundraiser. If so, let them know you’d be happy to thank them by listing them on a poster or other materials for the event.

Don’t be shy about asking. Simply be polite and state your school’s fundraising needs and goals. Not every vendor will be able to help, but you’d be surprised by how many will.

Go over your costs with volunteers as needed, especially if you’ve put them in charge of getting quotes on products or services for the events. Make sure everyone knows their budget numbers and understands they can’t exceed them, even by a little bit. If everyone goes over just a little, it can add up to a lot. So, be certain that everyone checks in with you, about their price quotes before they order anything.

If you are over budget already, now is the time for hard choices. Decide where you will make cuts to get back under or brainstorm ways to generate more revenue before moving forward.

Pro Tips: 

Start by analyzing the budget yourself, then gather your volunteers to help decide what to reduce or limit. Make sure everyone understands why the budget changes were made, and involve them in the conversation if you can. Open dialogue maintains goodwill and reduces hurt feelings and miscommunications.

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Get Quotes! (How to Contact Vendors)

We realize we’ve talked a bit about how you need to manage your estimates and your costs – but not exactly how to communicate with suppliers. We’ve mentioned asking for discounts but not how to get a quote for services they need to perform.

Here are some recommended steps to take:

  1. Start with research. Ask volunteers, parents, and others connected with the school if they have recommendations. Do an online search to find vendors. You’ll want to contact at least three vendors for each service you require to get competitive rates.
  2. Create a filing system to save all the estimates received. Share a Google Drive Folder or Box.com account so all your team members can share their research with the rest of the team. Name each File for the service quoted and the vendor you received the quote from to help keep things organized. Name things like VENUE, DECORATIONS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, Etc.
  3. Take notes during conversations with vendors so the team can make informed decisions. Note different quantity price ranges, color options, and shipping durations. You’ll want to get the same answers from each of the vendors for each expense type to choose the optimal suppliers for your event.
  4. Share your research with other volunteers and make some decisions!
Pro Tips:

If you want to do the graduation cap and gown fundraiser, you first have to research what graduation companies offer these programs in the first place and the associated costs and benefits.

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Design Flyers and Brochures (Market Your Event)

Aside from the silent type fundraisers, you will want to market your fundraiser broadly. We’ve discussed meeting with students, parents, and educators, but now we need to get everyone you couldn’t reach the first time around. Now you need to engage the community as a whole and start getting some commitments from people outside of your volunteer group.

You want to design, print, and post materials that are polished, professional, and well written. No matter how many eyes you have looking your materials, there’s bound to be an error somewhere. So check and check again before sharing. We’re confident that any English teacher that has read this article and others has noted several things they wanted to scribble over with a red pen!

When making flyers, both for use off and online, make a draft to confirm that it looks attractive visually and is helpful and informative, before sharing. We mentioned designing a coupon book in our fundraising ideas article. That one, in particular, will probably go through many iterations. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be as close to perfect as you can manage. Don’t lose sleep over whether or not the font you chose could have been rounder or the blue a different shade.

As with all editing, it’s best that the original composer of the work isn’t the person who reviews it. Set up someone to proofread all your designers work. This five-minute task could save you from making a mistake that will cost time and money. It can save you from having to reprint flyers, or simply from misinforming guests about the event. You don’t want to advertise the 5th of the month when its actually on the 15th.

Pro Tips:

Don’t sweat the small stuff. But do make sure things like locations, times, dates, and people are all correct. If those are wrong, you can have people showing up for an event that isn’t for another week or a week after it ended!

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Get the Word Out (Send Invitations)

The person assigned to this task should perform it in advance, well in advance. We recommend that you send out the invitations to the fundraiser multiple times through many channels. One mailed notice can easily be forgotten or misplaced, two or three is perfect.

Social media postings have a huge reach and can be made weekly leading up to the event, and daily the closer you get to the big day.

If your fundraiser is going to be attached to another event as we’ve discussed in other articles, it’s best to meet with that events coordinator to see if you can get a mention in their invitations. That way you can consolidate your costs and guarantee that the fundraiser will get the notice it deserves.

Should you feel that your event deserves separate invitations, then they should complement the type of fundraiser you’re having. That said, a school fair or Karaoke event will have a more casual invitation than a formal dinner or luncheon.

Pro Tips:

If you find a sponsor, they may be willing to share your event on their social media accounts. Depending on the size of their following, you could get substantial attention for your event!

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Make an Organizer’s List

To keep your school fundraiser on track, you’ll want to create an organizer’s list. This list will help you keep track of which volunteers have been assigned to which tasks and the flow of the fundraising event from start to finish.

Make one of these at the top level with your team and use it to assign tasks. Have your committee members make smaller versions for their projects and volunteers. Use a system like SmartSheets.com to share and update the lists as a group.

Each team member can build their task list to include every step they think is worth noting. With this guiding the project everything will be smooth sailing.

Here is what your organizer’s list will probably include for most events:

  • Names & Contact Info Of:
    • Committee Members
    • Additional Volunteers
    • Vendors
    • Donators (Who gave right from the start)
  • Duties Assigned and Their Specifics:
    • Who is Responsible?
    • When will it be completed?
    • The amount budgeted
    • The amount spent
    • The names of volunteers and projects they’re working on
  • The timeline of the tasks and event
    • When should each task start and when should they be due?
    • When will the event start and end?
Pro Tips: 

Keep in mind that this likely will more like a Gantt chart than a mere task list. You can make it in something as simple as Microsoft Excel, or you can get more formal and use an online planning tool like Wrike Project Management.

school fundraisers

Future Reading:

Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing articles on specific topics related to school fundraisers. We will provide fundraising ideas, fundraising instructions, and other useful insights.

If you’re interested in getting all of that information at once, GraduationSource recently published an eBook detailing school fundraising – it’s a draft that’s continually improving with feedback from readers like you.

If you would like to read the entire eBook “Fundraising for Your School” – DOWNLOAD IT HERE

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