By Dick Fines
More now than ever, fundraising presents challenges to the various organizations, day-cares, sports, schools and groups within schools needing to raise money. Funding that previously supported school activities has been curtailed, or more frequently, completely cut off, leaving the unattractive alternative of either foregoing many worthwhile educational activities or mobilizing students and parents to redouble fundraising activities. This in a world where other fundraising groups: nearby schools, sports – hockey, soccer, skating, lacrosse, swimming and others as well as non-school training organizations – day cares, scouts, gymnastics, baton twirlers, musical choruses and bands (the list is endless) are enduring the same restraints and will be out competing for the same fundraising dollars as you are.
This explosion of fundraising at the door, the workplace and even at family gatherings has led to increased resistance to supporting fundraising activities, often resulting in lowered returns from the efforts put forth by participants, making the attainment of goals and objectives harder to reach. As a result, many fundraising groups have felt impelled to increase the number of fundraising activities undertaken. This is a natural response – if an activity produces less than hoped for, it seems necessary to do more of the same.
The result is more resistance from the supporting customer base. People feel that they must be more selective in choosing which groups to assist – and if they have already supported your activity, they may very well feel they have done all they can – and refuse further spending. In addition, the students and parents begin to feel overwhelmed and become less willing to take part. Participation drops, resulting in even further diminished returns. Fewer take part in each project, fewer people buy from those selling and profits spiral downward.
What can be done to have successful fundraisers in today’s overcrowded environment? The answer may sound surprising – do fewer fundraisers!
Examine the projects you have done and see which were the most successful. Look for programs that give the customer value for their money, particularly ones that fit into the family budget – thing that they are buying anyway. Then make a commitment to choosing just two fundraisers in the school year.
Examine what groups in the school need to raise money and make it a co-operative effort with the various groups receiving a share of the proceeds based on what they have contributed. Announce to the students, parents and staff that the school or organization will be doing only one program in the fall and one in the spring. Ask for whole-hearted support for this one project. Let them know that they will be asked to approach friends, neighbours, relatives and work-mates just once this season. The community will appreciate the reduced demands placed on them and the response you will receive will be gratifying – and profitable.
To make life simpler for you – and for your supplier – avoid doing more than one program at a time. Going out with more than one brochure does not make more money for you; it just makes more work and can create confusion. In the event that you feel it is necessary to do more than program at a time do them with one supplier. At least that way your supplier will be able to co-ordinate delivery which will make distribution much easier.
Also, you may very well be able to negotiate a higher profit level. Make it easy for them and they will be in a better position to make it easy for you. Find a supplier who have worked with in the past – or a new one you trust and feel confident with and stick with them unless they fail to properly address your needs. You will save yourself a lot of work and headaches – and make it easier for the suppliers to do a better job of serving your needs and the needs of others in the community who need to do fundraising.