Thursday, February 23, 2017
   
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Show Me The Money! -Tips for Fundraising Success

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School Fundraising. These two words inspire both hope and exhaustion equally in many parents. Like it or not, it is a necessary part of being in a school community. Whether the school is publicly or privately funded, there are always expenses that arise that cannot be covered by the base budgets. Fundraisers, then, are sort of like the burpees and push-ups of the school calendar. They need to be done, and if they get done in the best and most fun way possible, then the results are wholly beneficial. Attack this necessary task head on with the best tools and plans. The benefits mean better things for the kids, teachers, and ultimately - the community at large.

With full disclosure in mind, it’s easy to admit that even this writer has said many times “I’d rather just give the school this $20 and bypass all the extra work”. But in reality, selling a product or hosting a large event earns more money for the participating school or organization. That’s the well-proven bottom line. Choosing between selling products and hosting an event is left up to that school or organization. But, it’s important to remember that an event needs to be really big to earn the kinds of funds that most schools need. A good example is the Junior League of Jackson’s Mistletoe Marketplace. That is a major fundraiser for the JLJ, for sure. But make no mistake, those ladies work All Year Long on that one event to pull it off. Commitment on that scale isn’t right for 99% of the schools out there. Thus, selling a good product often becomes the best answer.

At the outset of fundraising planning, the key decisions that need to be made include which product to sell, length of time for the fundraiser, what time of year to execute it, how to structure the prize incentives, how to get products ordered and distributed, and how to organize a motivational Kick-Off. It’s a lot to manage (hello, understatement!), and this is where pre-planning and partnering with a good fundraising company can help to streamline the process and increase success. Kenny King, a fundraising specialist with King Fundraising, works with schools and organizations all over Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. He advises schools to “be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to the fundraiser.” In his experience, partnering with a good company will decrease the amount of time the school has to spend administering the details and will make the process enjoyable and successful.

Wait. Enjoyable? Sure! While the details are numerous and the planning can be overwhelming, a fundraising specialist can help the organizers manage the timelines and deadlines so the students and parents can simply enjoy the process. While the beginning of the school year is typically a great time of year to have a major fundraiser, it’s not uncommon to have just as much success in, say, February. King says “in general, the fundraiser that raises the most money is the first one of the year, and that could be February if it is your first one this school year.” Generally, it’s best to have no more than two major fundraisers in any school year since rates of success decrease with each event. A good consultant can also help ensure success by helping choose the best product(s) to sell. Products need to be both high in quality and appropriate for the community, while having a reasonable price point. There are a lot of options, but knowing which ones have proven themselves is also where a consultant is valuable.

King says the keys to reaching a fundraising goal are:

  • Live Kick-Offs
  • Prize Incentives
  • Quality Products
  • Staying engaged with group members/participants

Getting help with the crucial aspects of a fundraiser can pay off big. Schools or organizations can earn anywhere from a few thousand to over $50,000 in the course of a single fundraiser, so the work and effort are worth it. Plus, the intangibles like increased self-confidence and goal-setting skills for the kids and strengthening community bonds are the icing on the proverbial cake.

So, don’t panic when asked to lead the fundraising charge. King encourages “Yes, being a fundraising sponsor or chairperson is work, but it is valuable, and you are helping the local school. Everyone wins!” With the in-person and online resources available now, high-dollar success is just under the lids of all that cookie dough, and that investment of time and effort is truly a gift to the kids and community like no other!

 

Leah O’Gwynn Kackley is the homeschooling mom of three in the Rez/Fannin area. Her fundraising duties are different now. But back in the day, she sold a lot of chocolate, suntan concoctions, balloons, friendship ribbons, spirit ribbons, and a whole lot of other things that she’s long since forgotten!

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION on fundraising, check out Association of Fund-Raising Distributors & Suppliers’s website at www.afrds.org or www.kingfundraising.com.

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