Tips to Create a School Fundraising Plan

Elementary school class outsideChoosing a fundraiser for your school is a huge project.  First you have to decide what time of year you’ll host the school fundraiser and then choose your fundraising theme.  Should you choose a sales fundraiser (i.e. selling items such as candy, gift wrap, magazines, etc) or should you host a school fundraising event? (i.e. school walk-a-thon, carnival, auction, etc.) One consideration with event fundraisers is that they take months to organize, where a standard sales fundraiser can be put together in only a few weeks. On the other hand, event fundraisers have a community-building aspect that sales fundraisers can’t match. People get excited about a school carnival or a school auction and gala dinner, where they may have the opposite feeling about an annual catalog sale.

At the end of the day, there isn’t one right answer.  You need to decide what fundraiser is right for your school.  Keep in mind that it’s not just about the potential dollars you’ll raise, but it’s also about the resources you have.  In order to be successful in your efforts, you should consider creating a school fundraising plan.

Tips to Create a School Fundraising Plan:

  1. Budget: Create a budget at the beginning of the year and then target your fundraising efforts to raise the amount of money you need. Look for opportunities to minimize costs (such as event sponsorships, corporate donations, in-kind services, volunteers vs. paid workers, etc).  Be sure the fundraiser you choose has the potential to raise the dollars you need so you can limit the number of school fundraisers.  (we recommend only 1-3 fundraisers per year or you may risk losing parent and community involvement or burning out your students).
  2. Evaluate Resources. Different fundraisers require different resources in terms of timeline to plan/organize and needed volunteer hours/ skills. Select a fundraiser that matches your members’ time and ability to run the project.  Example: If your PTO is staffed with many passionate members that possess different skills and have connections in the local community, perhaps a fundraising event is the perfect choice for your group.  If you only have a handful of members to help with your school fundraising event, you may want to choose something easier to execute and go with a sales-fundraising strategy or set up an online donations website or an online charity auction. These don’t take as many hours of planning as a large-scale physical event.
  3. Increase Efficiency. Find a way to be more efficient with your dollars and resources. One great way to increase efficiency is by using school fundraising software.  Do some research to find the right solution for you. There are plenty of online fundraising software solutions that can help you minimize costs, time and volunteer hours while helping admins easily manage all details of your fundraiser.  With the online tools available today, there is little need for much of the paperwork required in the past.  Participant registration, donation processing, sponsor/sales management, and various reporting tools can be accessed with the click of your mouse.  This frees up time and resources that could be dedicated to other projects such as after-school programs, family nights, playground partners, classroom helpers, etc.
  4. Due Diligence: Find out what school fundraisers have parents and community members supported in the past. Call a former PTO member, ask the principal or talk with school staff and teachers. Look through old PTO files. Perhaps you will discover long-forgotten traditions that could be revived, such as a neighborhood carnival or a Back-to-School Fall school walk-a-thon. You might also find some helpful information about previous fundraising failures so you won’t make the same mistakes.  You should also talk with parents to see if they have a preference on sales vs. event fundraisers and find out if they’d support one major fundraiser or smaller fundraisers throughout the year. And if historic data can not be found, send out a survey to current parents and supporters of the school to get their feedback.

Visit DoJiggy for more school fundraising ideas and resources including how-to guidelines and sample fundraising templates for you to use at your school fundraising event.