From playgroup, kindy and pre-primary on, parents are often called upon to help raise funds to buy extra items, pay for guest speakers, or even just to help fund the standard operating costs of electricity, tea, coffee and room hire. Having recently signed on to take part in the social and fundraising committee at my kids' schools, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it’s not as dry and dusty (or work heavy!) as expected, and it’s actually been a great way to get to know the parents better, and put some of my skills to good use for the benefit of my kids.
Fundraising guru Mandy Weidmann of www.fundraisingideas.com.au, and author of soon to be published The Practical Fundraising Handbook, comments that organisation and planning are the key tools of success, with a little creative flair thrown in for good measure. Here are Weidmann’s top tips for making the most moola from your fundraising efforts.
All in the organisation
Have a goal – don’t fundraise for the sake of it. Might sound basic, but think about it this way; are you raising money because your school or organisation ‘will need stuff’, or are you raising $5000 to install sail shades, or $3000 for computers? It makes it easier to plan for, easier to stay motivated, and easier to motivate people to part with their time or money.
Mix it up – It pays to do a mix of fundraising activities, because what works for some won’t for others. Weidmann says choosing four types of activities, such as an ‘athon’, a cake sale, a dance or dinner and a book fete, means that you’ll have something to appeal to most people at one stage during the year.
Have a calendar – Reason one, you can slot in the best seasons for each (an outdoor fete may attract more people, making spring a good choice, while chocolate sales in summer could be a disaster). You can also make sure you don’t coincide with anything else going on in the community that might take away from your customer or volunteer base.
A primary school in WA, Kyilla, raised over $5000 after writing letters to high profile people, asking them to send in a signed copy of their favourite book for their fundraising auction.
Take it technical
Social media makes for great marketing – if your school has a Facebook page, consider using it to promote your fundraising events to spread the word. You can also post information on local community pages, but remember, it is polite to ask if they mind you posting on their page. You may find they are happy to help you out by giving your fundraiser a personal endorsement on their page.
Use your greatest resource – the kids
Involve the kids – whether it’s for a school, daycare or local organisation, if the money is being raised for the kids, then getting them involved will generally raise more. You may want to have a bike-a-thon, a bake-a-thon or a blue light disco, or have their artwork printed on shirts, tea towels, book bags or magnets.
And some inspiration from successful fundraisers …
Don’t be afraid to embrace the wild and wacky – A US based high school raised $1000 after playing Justin Beiber’s ‘Baby’ every break time for almost three days at every break time. The organizers had let the students know they would have to pay to make it stop – the song would be played for a week, or until they raised $1000.
Think big – A primary school in WA, Kyilla, raised over $5000 after writing letters to high profile people, asking them to send in a signed copy of their favourite book for their fundraising auction. Five international celebrities donated books including Dawn French, Jerry Hall, Florence Henderson, Amanda Seyfried and Ann M. Martin. At a local level Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Andrew Denton, Matthew Pavlich, and Tim Winton were just some of the big names to pitch in with a book. The school also upped their earnings by having an online auction with some of the books, to run alongside the community auction held at the school.
Cook up some cash – with modern technology, it’s now possible to put together a personalized cookbook and have it printed for very little outlay – and you can usually organize print runs as small as 20 copies, meaning no need to fear boxes of unsold stocks. A great to avoid overstocking is to do a minimum order print run for display, and then take orders which are processed once a fortnight. Selling ad space to local businesses could see your costs covered, meaning sales are pure profit.
At the finish line
When it’s all done and dusted, don’t forget to provide feedback and thanks. People that have attended an event, or bought something during a fundraising drive love to hear how they have contributed, so get back on that Facebook page and into the school newsletter with a big thank you, a tally of what was earned and how it is being spent. People will feel good about their involvement and be more likely to take part next time.