School Fundraising

Fundraising for Kids with Confidence

It’s back to fundraising time for many schools and parent teacher groups. Here are five key items to keep in mind for your fall fundraisers to help make them successful.

Fundraising for Kids: 5 Questions to Get Started on the Road to Success

What motivates your decisions?

If donors hear in your message that you need money to save a program, they’ll back away. They may wonder what you’re doing wrong in managing finances, and question if their donation will have an impact. Fundraising for kids is important to a large percentage of the population, and what motivates you is what motivates donors. Changing lives.

If you are only approaching donors when you need money, they’ll be turned off. They want to feel good about working with you and to be updated on your mini victories. How would you feel in their shoes if you were only contacted when a friend needed money? Your existing, loyal donors will lose trust and interest if all of your emails simply ask them to make a donation to your school or PTO website.

Donors will either see a fundraising team with a clear path, or one without confidence. Examine what you bring to the table when you stand in front of potential donors:

  • Do you have a formal plan in writing?
  • Are you simply hoping your efforts will be successful?
  • School fundraising requires a plan in writing that is formulated with buy in from your board, volunteers and donors.
  • Careful examination of what hasn’t worked in the past and revision of your plan accordingly is key.
  • Fundraising requires passion and a belief that funding a child’s education is the most important thing you do.
  • Your belief needs to come through to your donors in every written and verbal interaction.
  • Are you reaching out to potential donors in a manner well prepared for a mutually enriching relationship?

How often are you fundraising?

If school fundraisers or annual appeals are your only efforts, you’re likely leaving money on the table. Donors will feel unrewarded without regular interaction. Building their trust is accomplished with just that. Donor relationships hold the keys to success in fundraising for kids.

Public speaking engagements are very important to raise money for schools. Having more than one person who is good at this is of value, so that your public speakers don’t get burned out. Having good speech writers is just as important. Both the message and the delivery are crucial to school fundraising.Get in front of an audience weekly. What are your audiences? Consider rotary clubs who need weekly speakers. They are also a group of volunteers and have an interest in helping your community already. Find public speakers within your board, parents, teachers and current donors.

Churches are also good places to speak. People who volunteer, care about others and our world are at churches. Seek more places to speak specific to your mission – universities and corporations. The key is to do it every week!

Key school fundraising efforts also include well written nonprofit newsletters sent regularly. Feature a story in each newsletter with a great photo. Create engaging newsletters.

Emails updates sent regularly to donors that are well written with the right message are critical to your mission. Donors want attention like anyone else.

What is your message?

Don’t make it boring to potential and current donors to hear what your school has done. Donors want to hear specific stories about how someone’s life has been changed by your school. They want to hear about a young boy who found it difficult to learn to read, but succeeded with the extra help provided by teacher aides or special software.

Donors don’t want to be asked for money. They want to be asked to sponsor a child’s education who is learning to write book reports or short stories. They want to be asked to help change lives through education.

Donors will feel left out if your speech and email messaging contains language only a teacher understands. Insider language will make them feel as though they are somehow ignorant – no one wants their donors to feel this. Y2K and lots of school jargon is language they may not know. Besides,it is more engaging to your audience if you speak and write great illustration.

Offer dollar amounts to educate each child. Break down the amount it costs your school to teach English to one student. Make the amount small rather than presenting the cost for your school to teach English. Give donors the satisfaction of knowing their donation would go to help a boy who was falling behind. Use odd dollar amounts to make it real rather than rounding numbers up, engendering trust.

Tell donors what your plans are for the year. If you need new equipment for your science lab, divide the amount needed per child. If you want to share the amount you spend on teaching a child science, you have options of calculating per day or year, for example. Perhaps you provide one-to-one tutoring in math and have calculated the cost per student, along with a story about what changed within a month for one special child. Share the whole story of her success.

How committed are you?

Do you believe that a little is okay, and that your school fundraising campaign goal is to make ends meet? Believe that your work in school fundraising is the most important thing you do. Believe that education is the foundation for building a better world. Realize that donors believe this too – you just have to reach them.

Donor relationships are like dating. If you have a successful first date and it’s not followed up with more meaningful contact and dates, the relationship falls flat. You assume the other party is not interested. Or you loose interest and move on to another nonprofit cause.

Keep the fire stoked in your relationships. And keep your own fire burning with belief that you are changing the world and others really want to help! It is no secret that education changes lives. Yet schools are not just about access, rather creating change and progress in society.

Who is on your team?

Start a PTO or school fundraising committee, and include parents, teachers and even others from outside your school to join. Since there are new parents with strong opinions and heartfelt investment just waiting to be invited, now is a good time to update your committee. Balance the dynamics with a few board members, and members of your school staff. Perhaps a member of your business community who attended your main fundraising event last year would like to help. Let members take time out if they want to, so new members can join. Keep it fun too. Bring in some wine on occasion and hold meetings both onsite and offsite.

Find the grant writers in your group and research all grant opportunities pertaining to fundraising for kids. Grant writing is a specific skill. Finding grant programs requires savvy. Many grant proposals are declined because proper preparation and foresight were not considered. Assign someone on your fundraising committee to chair this important source of school fundraising.

It doesn’t hurt to get some coaching on public speaking. Watching others and practicing with accomplished speakers helps you to learn, gain confidence and be more effective. Your team members are also, of course, your co-workers. Outside help is there for you too. Perhaps you want an outside business consultant to help you write a fundraising plan.

Create videos of your public speaking engagements. You may need a little help from volunteer university students. Get as many young volunteers as possible for a fresh perspective and help with the latest technology. It is a great experience for them to learn about nonprofits and fundraising. Task them with digital marketing to advance your social media marketing.

Revisit your fundraising events with an outside eye or two. Ask for feedback from your committee and board. Send a questionnaire via email about your main fundraising event to your donors asking for their feedback. Revamp crowdfunding events with different messages, more outreach and corporate sponsors. Revitalize your fundraising event and nonprofit websites, as many donors and event participants first meet you online. They decide to be a part of your nonprofit based on your online presence.

In summary, make appeals about relationships rather than money in fundraising for kids. Engage in fundraising every week instead of once every quarter. Keep your donor relationships current and friendly. And remember that your work in education is the very foundation for progress.

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About Maureen Peine

Maureen has been writing and marketing for DoJiggy for over 7 years, and has a strong background in nonprofit fundraising. While with The Nature Conservancy for 7 years prior to DoJiggy, she learned the inner workings of marketing to the State of California within the external affairs department. Her heart is in her writing as she believes in the power of change through nonprofit organizations.
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