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Managing Your School Fundraising Budget Like a Pro

School fundraisers help pay for classroom supplies, extracurricular activities, art programs, and more. These fundraisers are vital to providing students with enriching learning experiences that fill the gaps in their core education. However, school fundraising teams often struggle to raise money for their schools while working within their fundraising budget.

Luckily, the right budgetary management strategies and fundraising ideas can help your school’s fundraising leaders spend less, save time, and raise more for students. The following tips and ideas help your school accomplish its fundraising goals:

  • 4 Management Tips for School Fundraising Budgets

  • 3 Simple, Lucrative Fundraisers to Maximize Your Budget

While it can feel impossible to step up your fundraising efforts on a tight budget, following a few simple strategies can get your prospective fundraisers off the ground. Let’s start by discussing four tips for making your school’s fundraising budget work for you.

4 Management Tips for School Fundraising Budgets

Budgets can be messy and confusing, especially when multiple people manage or oversee them. To cut down on miscommunication and improve your school’s budget management, implement strategies like reviewing past budgets and seeking corporate philanthropy opportunities. You may even surprise yourself and expand your fundraising budget!

Learn from past fundraising budgets

As you evaluate and manage your current budgets, the most logical starting point is analyzing budgets from the past few years. Reference historical fundraising budgets as a springboard or blueprint for your current budgets. Experience is the best teacher, and looking to the budgets from the past keep you from trying strategies that didn’t work for previous teams.

As you look into these budgets, take note of everything you find. This means observing what worked, what didn’t, and what can be improved. These insights can keep you from making the same mistakes your predecessors did, saving money on potential costly mistakes.

Watching out for previous mistakes and failures is vital to avoid financial mismanagement and miscalculations. But looking into past successes is equally essential, and your team should mimic positive management practices.

Delegate roles and responsibilities for financial management

The hectic nature of school fundraising means that details can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Due to how messy things can get, assigning people to specific duties and positions in the fundraising team is essential. Choose specific individuals to keep track of expenses, assets, incoming revenue, and other finances during the campaign, so someone always has their eye on your funds.

If you are a part of the PTA at your school, you might choose officers from the association to oversee the budget. For example, the PTA treasurer or campaign financial secretary likely has the skills to manage your fundraising budget. Larger schools with more fundraising and budgeting to manage may need to assign a dedicated financial management team to the task for the school year.

Leverage the power of corporate philanthropy

If your school’s budget is proving difficult to work with, it may be time for your team to take advantage of corporate philanthropy. Corporate philanthropy is when a for-profit business contributes to a nonprofit organization. While this contribution can be monetary, things like product donations, volunteerism, and in-kind donations are also considered types of corporate philanthropy.

Corporate philanthropy can be a powerful tool to gain financial support for your school’s fundraising team. You can increase the funds and resources available to your team by targeting:

  • Event sponsorships: With venue rental fees, catering, and supplies, event costs quickly pile up for teams with tight budgets. Partnering with a corporation as an event sponsor is a great way to alleviate some of these costs. Increased financial support will help you reach your fundraising goals through fun events.

  • Matching gifts: Matching gifts are corporate giving initiatives that involve corporations matching the donations their employees make to nonprofit organizations, doubling or even tripling donations. However, according to Match360Pro, $4 to $7 billion in matching gift funds are left unclaimed yearly. By urging your donors to take advantage of these programs, you could quickly double your budget.

  • In-kind donations: Another way corporations give to nonprofits is through donating specific items or services as gifts rather than money. For example, a local restaurant might donate catering services to your carnival fundraiser. These donations add to your budget by reducing or removing costs associated with purchasing supplies and services.

Don’t underestimate the power of post-campaign outreach

It’s easy to put all your focus on the date of the campaign itself. However, there are opportunities to fundraise even after the campaign officially ends. Post-campaign communications with participants can significantly impact the fundraiser’s total revenue and increase future donor participation.

As you budget and plan a timeline for your fundraiser, set aside time and resources for post-campaign outreach. With the following outreach methods, you can maximize fundraising success for current and future campaigns:

  • Donor acknowledgment and recognition. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and your donors are no exception. Acknowledging donors’ contributions encourages future donations by making supporters feel like their contributions are valued at your school. To acknowledge donors, try recognizing them on your website, sending handwritten thank you notes, or giving them a phone call.

  • Additional email appeals. If you missed your fundraising goal, you still have a chance to boost revenue. Email appeals should frame other donations as a positive opportunity and a chance to take action for a worthy cause. Reinforce that beyond your goals for a single campaign, the work is never really done.

  • Post-event surveys. Use post-event surveys to learn more about donor experience at your events. Make sure to include questions about how the participant heard about the event, what they liked best, what can be improved, and if they signed up for any of your ongoing programs. Refer to this information for future events, so your donors get the most out of your events.

A robust campaign outreach plan could make the difference between a fundraiser that falls short and one that goes above and beyond. Reach out to your donors to build on past successes and avoid mistakes to create the best fundraiser possible.

3 Simple, Lucrative Fundraisers to Maximize Your Budget

When it comes to school fundraisers, simpler is often better. Your team might be busy, short-staffed, or working with limited finances. If your school’s fundraising team struggles to stay within the lines of a tight budget, a simple yet lucrative fundraiser maximizes revenue without the stress of an extravagant event.

Shoe Drive Fundraisers

Shoe drive fundraisers are a popular and cost-effective way for schools to raise money. And by partnering with a social enterprise like Funds2Orgs, setting up these fundraisers is as simple as collecting gently worn, used and new shoes and turning them over to your partner. With these steps, you can host a shoe drive fundraiser to maximize your school’s fundraising budget:

  1. Match with a coaching team. Once you register for a shoe drive fundraiser, you get matched with a team of experienced coaches. Since you may not have experience running a shoe drive fundraiser, these coaches are the key to a successful fundraiser. Your dedicated team will also pass along your shoe drive materials, including marketing and collection materials, and more.

  2. Market to your supporters. Promote your fundraiser to your supporters so you can secure the donations to make the fundraiser a success. A shoe drive fundraiser allows you to connect with many new donors since you aren’t asking for money. Instead, you’re requesting something they probably already have sitting in their closet.

  3. Collect donations. Collect shoes with scheduled pick-ups or community drop-offs in a parking lot. To expand beyond your existing donor pool, set up drop-off locations at other places like shopping centers. The recommended collection timeline is about 60 days.

  4. Coordinate a pick-up date. Once your collection window closes, contact the social enterprise you are working with to schedule a date and time for donation pick up. Before pick-up, sort donations into bags with 25 shoes in each. Plan to have volunteers present to help with loading the shoe bags.

  5. Receive funds and share your success. After your shoe bags are collected, your work ends! Your team receives a check in the mail after the shoes are processed. Don’t forget to share the successes of your fundraiser with donors so they can see the impact of their contributions.

Shoe drive fundraisers are a great way to raise funds, especially for schools that don’t have a large fundraising budget. But, the benefits of shoe drive fundraisers don’t stop there. By partnering with the right organization, your shoes are passed on to microenterprises in developing nations to provide commerce opportunities to business owners.

Virtual Auctions

Traditional auctions are fun to run, but logistics like organizing items in the sale and finding a location can prove stressful. Hosting a virtual auction eliminates the extra planning and costs associated with an in-person event. While these fundraisers are cheaper than traditional fundraisers, there are a few things to keep in mind when setting one up:

  • Find a great platform so your fundraiser can go on without a hitch. Carefully research the platform’s features and reviews from past users to ensure it’s the right fit for your school.

  • Create a welcome email or text message to communicate important information with your donors. Reinforce details like the date and time of the event, and add a contact person for any questions or issues.

  • Consider hosting a multi-day auction to maximize revenue. Extending the campaign length allows more donors to bid on the items you’re selling.

With a virtual auction, you can organize a lucrative fundraiser at little cost to your school’s fundraising team. Consider partnering with local businesses to secure in-kind donations as the items featured in the auction so your team can maximize its budget.

Crowdfunding Campaigns

Crowdfunding is the process of funding a project with many smaller donations from individuals. Many fundraising teams focus on securing large donations, and crowdfunding efforts can fall to the wayside. While these donations are smaller, they can significantly impact whether you reach your fundraising goals.

Part of diversifying your donor portfolio is acknowledging the importance of small donations. Having a loyal crowd of willing donors means you have a base of supporters to fall back on if anything happens to big donors. Relying too heavily on large donors or a high-revenue event fundraiser might set your team up for failure if something goes wrong.

You can launch many unique, easy ideas to secure smaller donations. Crowdfunding campaigns can be held on dedicated crowdfunding platforms or hosted through text-to-give campaigns. Make sure to promote these giving opportunities to your supporters, so they know how and when to donate.

Managing the budget for your school’s fundraising team can be tricky, especially if your team is accustomed to stretching funds. Budget management strategies like learning from past successes and failures and creating a solid post-campaign can grow your budget to go the extra mile. Simple fundraisers like shoe drives work within your existing budget so you can build the funds to take on bigger projects in the future.

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