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Choosing and Executing an Effective Fundraising Project

By Treva Dayton on May 17, 2016 hst Print

In an ideal world, high school education-based athletics and performing arts activities would all be adequately supported, and fundraising by teams and student groups would not be needed. But in the real world of revenue shortages and shrinking budgets, such programs often must rely on fundraising for at least some portion – if not all ­­– of their funding.

Know school policies and restrictions

Most school districts require advance permission for fundraising activities. Some prohibit individual fundraisers by clubs or school groups altogether to prevent citizens of the community from being bombarded with requests to buy or sponsor something. Many limit groups to a specific number of fundraisers, or limit the types of activities allowed.

Learn your school’s policies, and follow them carefully. This is important for all types of fundraising activities, including those by booster clubs or parent support groups, soliciting funds or donated goods from local businesses or communities groups, hosting an event or providing a service to raise revenues, selling merchandise, or using social media for ‘crowdfunding.’

Evaluate fundraising activities carefully

Since there are countless potential ways to raise money, selecting one that best fits your needs and your community environment is important. In addition to following established policies, avoid projects that would be in competition with other school or community efforts. Exploring the following questions will provide a useful starting point for making choices.

  • Determine the target amount that you need to raise. Will any single project accomplish that, or will several efforts be needed?
  • Measure the potential of the project to determine if it is realistic for your team or squad. Take the total amount you need to raise, and divide that by the number of students involved in the project to determine the net profit needed from each one. Take that amount and divide by the actual profit you will make for each item sold, and that tells you how many items each student must sell. Can students accomplish that goal?
  • If you have a sufficient sales force to sell the necessary amount, do you have a large enough target audience within your community?
  • If you are purchasing and selling items or discount coupons, what will the profit margin be? Will you be liable for unsold goods, or can you return them to the company? Is there a re-stock charge? Who pays for shipping? Are products insured during shipping? Is there a product guarantee?
  • Is the product or service easily marketable?
  • Will the fundraising project truly benefit students? How much time and effort must be spent and what are the potential gains?
  • How will the fundraising project affect the image of your program? Make certain the project falls in line with the mission of your school. If fundraising is done for a specific objective, those participating can see or know about the results of their contributions.

Prepare and train participants in advance

If students will be involved in selling merchandise or soliciting sponsorships, make sure they are well trained to be courteous and not overly aggressive. Role-playing potential conversations and discussing and rehearsing what students should say – and not say – will increase their confidence and potentially their success.

If the project includes contacting community members or local businesses, divide the community into sections and have students assigned to each one. This prevents duplication of efforts and frustration caused when community members are solicited repeatedly for the same purpose. This is also helpful when selling raffle tickets or merchandise at school events or games.

Students should understand the importance of keeping accurate records and submitting money received in a timely fashion. Make sure parents are informed as well. Everyone involved should clearly understand their responsibilities and the timeline.

A successful fundraising project can provide not only needed money for maintaining or expanding activities programs, but also offer students valuable experience in problem-solving, organizing, time management and recordkeeping. Those participating also gain experience in salesmanship, promotion and community engagement. Spending sufficient time to analyze and select the most appropriate projects with the highest chances of success will be time well spent.