Thursday, August 1, 2013

The best idea in school fundraising? Stop sending kids door-to-door.

Memes Help Little Girls School Fundraising
This girl's parents got creative when it was time for school fundraising. 

Happy August! As the hottest days of summer set in, the new school year is just around the corner. In preparation, parents are getting hit with long, expensive school supply lists; teachers are organizing materials; and parent groups are planning fundraisers to supplement this year's education spending cuts. It's a resources grab on many levels that leaves educators and parents alike frazzled and fretting before the first starting bell rings. 

There is a host of school fundraising ideas out there, and most of them are pretty good. Parents and teachers can be a really creative bunch, especially when education is on the line. Recent years have seen a change in willingness, though. Parents are weary of buying stuff they don't need and doesn't hold up, and are leery of sending their kids out as a door-to-door sales force to hawk company wares. Teachers and parent volunteers are weary of trying to keep up with orders that may or may not have been placed, and payments that may or may not have been sent. The effort involved in many school fundraisers is a strain on already tapped out resources, and parents and teachers still end up supplementing classroom supplies from their pockets anyway. 

The girl in the photo is onto something. Rather than using the same old school fundraising sales, why not tap into social media and hold fundraisers that 1. have higher earning potential, 2. keep kids off the sales-streets, and 3. minimize confusion over orders and payments? Free fundraising platforms simplify school fundraising, take less time to create and manage, and tap into a larger donor audience. Plus, it allows for creativity and illustrates to the students how they can make a positive impact. 

Here's a super-simple school fundraiser plan:

First, make your free HuTerra member account. It takes mere seconds. If you are a school administrator or a parent group administrator, search for your organization and "Claim your Community." HuTerra does have a verification process that takes a couple days. We're hands-on like that, and we want to be certain that nonprofit organizations are properly represented. 

If you're not an administrator, but would like to create a fundraiser, you can do that too. Create your member account then find your school or parent group General Fundraiser, then "Create a Supporting Fundraiser."
Fundraiser tips:
The general idea here is to get school families to fundraise and spread the word for you. Encourage families to get involved by creating a fundraiser with a fun theme that students can get creative and build upon. Here's an easy one for early in the school year: Why We Love Our School. Then families can create their own supporting fundraisers off the main one. Students can create images, write poetry and stories, and do all kinds of wacky things to share the many reasons they love school. It's fun, and it reinforces a sense of Community.
Provide a couple prize incentives. Perhaps the student who raises the most money can shadow the Principal for a day. The student with the most creative fundraiser can earn a coloring set. Prizes can be donated by parents, or even by local businesses. It never hurts to ask if a great restaurant will donate a gift card so the top-fundraising family can enjoy an evening out. 
Once the fundraiser is setup, you need to use the school's website, email, Facebook, Twitter, and, yes, even old fashioned notes home to let families know about it. Share the link to the main fundraiser you created and tell them about the plan (go make your own supporting fundraiser), and the incentives. Point out that if you raise enough money, you won't have to send their kids door-to-door with wrapping paper in the fall. Many parents will spend a few minutes just to avoid fundraising sales. 

Remind families daily through electronic communication means, and weekly by backpack messages to keep fundraising and to have fun with it. A good school fundraiser length is two weeks. They'll need to share their fundraiser links with all of their friends, family, and colleagues. Many coworkers will gladly make a secure online donation if they know they won't have to buy wrapping paper from you later. Remind families that they can share their links on Facebook, Twitter, and through email as well. By doing so, your fundraiser will reach way more people than door-to-door sales can possibly reach. Now, your fundraiser has more earning potential than just how much wrapping paper Grandma can stuff in her closet. 

Once the two week period is over, let everybody know what a great job they did, and how proud you are of your students for creating a positive impact on your school. Follow through with promised incentives in a timely manner. Enjoy that you just fundraised a bunch of money, everybody had fun doing it, and nobody had to keep up with cash and check donations. HuTerra will send a secure check for the donations to your school or parent organization. 

Want a little help? We love to hear from you and we love to lend a hand! Visit www.HuTerra.com, and use the Contact Us link at the bottom of every page. Good luck fundraising, and let us know how it's going! We love to share ideas.