What works as a fundraiser for a PTA in a small rural town in Florida probably won’t be as successful if the same one is used in Chicago. In order to raise the amount of money you want and need, you should look at a fundraiser like a dress in your closet. Last year that dress may have fit perfectly but over the holidays you may have added some volume and now it’s kind of tight. Or you’ve lost weight and it’s loose.
Likewise a fundraiser that soared five years ago may not suit your current population of parents. Those intent on shedding some pounds probably won’t buy lots of cookie dough and those watching their finances won’t have the budget to buy unnecessary home décor items.
What To Look For
Before choosing the most appropriate fundraiser, first decide how you want to use the funds you raise. What do the students need most? Possibilities include computers, field trips, school supplies, books and more.
If what you choose to buy will also benefit the larger community outside the school, then that community will be more likely to contribute.
Here are some questions to consider before settling on a fundraiser:
- How much can you reasonably expect your parents to spend?
- Which fundraisers have you used in the recent past that have been successful?
- If the students must be the sellers, does the company offer incentives the kids want or prizes they’ll work to get?
- Does the fundraiser require work and effort of the donators?
- Will it disrupt the school day or make extra work for the teachers?
- Is the principal on board with your selection?
Principals must be the watchdogs for the fundraising process, so get their approval before undertaking any money-raising efforts.
Our friends with parent-teacher organizations in the United Kingdom suggest combining fundraisers to maximize funds. For example, have a coffee morning where you sell coffee and pastries at the same time as your book fair. Or plan a school dance for the kids and have an auction for the parents at the same time.
Tracy Tamura, who has been involved with PTA organizations in and around Martinez, California for years, says she prefers having two big fundraisers a year – like an auction and some type of gift purchasing online like Innisbrook (innisbrook.com).
“These two types of fundraisers will bring in the most money in one fell swoop and don’t leave parents feeling like all they ever do is open up their ‘pocketbooks’ for the school,” says Tamura.
Tamura also recommended some passive ongoing campaigns to raise money:
- eScrip (escrip.com) – when parents shop at certain stores, they receive credits that convert to dollars for the school
- Local business sponsorships — like McTeacher Night at McDonald’s where the school receives a percentage of the sales
- Advertising opportunities – ask businesses to sponsor school activities
Come up with ideas that require little or minimal work on the part of the person making the donation, says Tamura. And keep parents informed about what you’re raising money for, how much you raise and what you’re buying with that money. Then they will trust that you do what you say you’ll do.
What if your parents are sick of fundraisers?
“Our most successful is the ‘no frills fundraiser,’” says Elizabeth Aaron, president of the Clinton Elementary PTA in Maplewood, New Jersey. “Parents are encouraged to donate an amount of money to help support PTA activities all year.”
In fundraisers and in dresses, one size does not fit all.