Many schools struggle with implementing dependable fundraising strategies that best suit their needs. If your school is collecting funds for an upcoming project or needs a boost for operational capacities, it’s helpful to take a step back and develop a new actionable school fundraising approach.
Taking time to investigate your school fundraising program will help you diagnose and treat major flair-ups before they occur. For instance, gathering data about preferred fundraising event types will ensure a higher attendance rate. Additionally, cultivating community fundraising conversations can help you refresh your program with new fundraising perspectives.
With a proactive fundraising program, your school will reap the benefits of a tried and true strategy for years to come. To create such a strategy, we’ll cover these five tips to ensure your school’s fundraising program stands the test of time:
Keep your fundraising ideas fresh.
Gather input from your school community.
Stay within your budget.
Use proven marketing strategies and platforms.
Track fundraising data.
Successful school fundraising programs take a village. Be sure to leverage your school network and program leadership to reach your goals. Timely, thoughtful communication makes a world of difference.
1. Keep your fundraising ideas fresh.
Your students, teachers, and families will feel more enthusiastic about your fundraising efforts if they’re unique and engaging. Consider a fun teacher charity game that excites your students. There is no greater joy for middle schoolers when they get to watch their math teacher face off against their PE coach in an obstacle course or race.
Whichever fundraiser idea you land on, don’t go with the same old 5K theme or popcorn fundraiser each year. Liven up your program with some fresh, marketable ideas that attract parents, students, and staff alike. Funds2Orgs recommends unique campaign ideas like:
A shoe drive fundraiser. How many extra shoes do your school families have lying around? Why not donate them to a unique shoe drive fundraiser? Consider hosting a field day or spreading the news at athletic events to invite school families to donate.
A trivia night. Let your students, parents or staff put their knowledge to the test (without a grade, of course!). You can host one trivia night or have recurring monthly or biweekly trivia nights with various themes. Do some research on which trivia topics your audience is most interested in and set a schedule from there.
A t-shirt fundraiser. Your school probably has some artistically talented students. Partner with your school art teacher and create a competition for your students to submit their artwork. Next, approve their designs for an eye-catching t-shirt design. Blankets, socks and hoodies are other merchandise fundraising options.
A read-a-thon. Invite families or friends to pledge a certain dollar amount per page or book a student reads! Partner with your school book club to get the word out. Have your English teachers compile a list of recommended books or encourage students to do some literary digging.
A board game tournament. Board game nights foster fun, family-friendly competition. Plus, they are inexpensive to host. Send out a survey beforehand to discover which board games are most popular within your school community.
Livening up your school fundraising program will generate more interest and raise more funds. Don’t be afraid to try something new that appeals to your school body. Consider keeping an accessible, running list of fundraising ideas so that you always have a resource to refer to when planning future campaigns.
2. Gather input from your school community.
Perhaps you’re stumped when it comes to thinking of new fundraising ideas that will engage your school. Why not directly ask your school community about fundraising events and campaigns they’re most interested in? Gather input from people such as:
Students in particular can offer a fresh perspective on which ideas are trending. Gen Z is the generation that is most active online. Appeal to their social media preferences and consider implementing fun inspirational trends seen on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
This may not mean using the platforms themselves, but rather taking note of trends on each platform and adjusting them to your school fundraising strategy. For instance, you could host a school-wide Tik Tok-themed dance marathon.
On the other hand, parents may want to participate in more parent-only events. You could plan a “parents’ night out” and brand this kind of event as a short, one-night get-away or cocktail hour. Let’s face it–most school fundraisers heavily rely on parental support. Keep this in mind when planning your campaign so you can make parent participation as simple as possible.
Parents and school staff can also offer perspectives on which previous fundraisers have gone well and what can be improved. For instance, a parent may mention their kid’s desire for more athletic fundraising events outside of their regular sports season.
Gathering input from your school community is like doing an emissions test for your car. You may not have realized your fundraising program could use a tune-up until you start getting feedback from community members. Be sure to welcome school community feedback often by sending surveys regularly.
3. Stay within your budget.
Now that your creative fundraising ideas are flowing, let’s examine your school budget. Before your school confirms a specific fundraising idea, do a quick cost-benefit analysis. Doing this analysis beforehand will save your school from the headache of unaccounted expenses.
Unexpected expenses can be like scary dark alleys. Turn your flashlight on to illuminate the true fundraising cost before your school begins planning. This may mean simply altering an ambitious fundraising suggestion, saving it for later or saying no altogether.
Also, varying your fundraising strategy with funding sources like corporate matching gifts, crowdfunding, volunteer grants and corporate philanthropy opportunities can expand your budget. Delegate roles to make sure the financial responsibilities of your school fundraiser are equally shared between your fundraising team members.
At the end of the day, you’ll be able to fundraise more effectively long-term and increase your ROI by staying within your budget and diversifying your funding sources.
4. Use proven marketing strategies and platforms.
Don’t waste your fundraising team’s time and energy by using marketing strategies and platforms that don’t see a lot of engagement within your audience. If you already know which marketing platforms are the most active, start your efforts there.
For example, if you already have a large Facebook following, focus your fundraising promotions on that platform rather than trying to build up a Twitter presence. In general, Facebook typically sees the most engagement from parents, staff and older donors.
In addition, posting a variety of marketing content is the best way to reach and retain your followers. Digital marketing platforms like email, Instagram and Facebook are the perfect places to provide context for your school fundraiser. Give an overview of your fundraising campaign’s purpose and let your followers know how they can participate.
Share your goals and showcase your school fundraising impact. Include an event countdown or share your fundraising progress over a period of time. Post event photos and statistics to celebrate when you have reached your goals.
5. Track fundraising data.
Track your fundraising successes and challenges to understand where there’s room for improvement. Keeping a list of metrics will steer you in the right direction. When you have evidence of a fundraising campaign’s success, you take the guesswork out of planning.
Track fundraising metrics such as:
Event attendance rates
Total gifts secured
Donor retention rate year-over-year
Pledge fulfillment rate (for events like 5Ks or walk-a-thons)
Referring to previous fundraising program metrics will help you decide which campaign ideas and marketing strategies work best. DonorSearch suggests using robust donor data software to help you specify which fundraising efforts attract the most donors. Additionally, you can use this software to predict future fundraising outcomes.
Remember, fundraising patterns take time to emerge. Start tracking your fundraising data today so you can gather reliable information to make your fundraising decisions.
Long-lasting school fundraising programs take a while to implement. Continue to brainstorm new fundraising ideas and foster communication with your academic community. Budgeting, marketing and tracking your programs will help you set and achieve realistic fundraising goals.
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