Surviving Back to School Fundraising

Pulling your hair out over Back to School Fundraising? We can help!|

The words “Back to School” might as well be “Back to Fundraising” since the start of the school year brings with it the start of the fundraising season.


Let’s pause for a collective groan from parents everywhere…..

Didn’t we just do this, you might wonder?  With school budgets dwindling year after year, most rely on fundraisers for arts and education supplies, PE, library, classroom smart boards, teacher’s aides etc. For PTO/PTA leaders and school administrators it can be increasingly difficult to cope with resistance from parents who are tired of hitting the pavement with their kids to hawk magazine subscriptions, wrapping paper, coupon books and melted chocolate bars.

The internet is buzzing with anti-fundraising campaign complaints and static from parents who are fed up.  Parents may argue that school fundraising programs need a complete overhaul. They may wonder how to survive the back to school fundraising season or be looking for ways to escape the obnoxious fundraising trap.

Is this you? Have you heard this from your group? If it is, don’t feel bad. I’ve got a confession. I’ve been there. I’m a parent with elementary school aged children and despite the fact that I work for a fundraising company, I too, get frustrated at the sheer volume of fundraisers my children bring home from school. So what’s the solution?

Avoid Over Fundraising.

Less is more. Truly it is. If properly executed, you can fundraise less and raise more money.  Volunteer burnout and lack of seller participation are the main causes of diminishing profits.  Focus on just a few key fundraisers a year. By limiting the amount of fundraisers you do, you will minimize your stress and maximize the return.

Choose your Back to School Fundraising Product or Campaign wisely.

Not all fundraising products are created equal and the same is true for capital campaigns. Parents fall into two camps for back to school fundraising. Some parents would prefer a straight capital campaign where 100% of the donated money goes back to the school.  Other parents are hesitant to ask for donations and feel more comfortable selling a fundraising product where the supporter receives something directly for the money they are spending.  The key with product fundraising is to choose a product that has a perceived value, is affordably priced and is in high consumer demand.

Get Volunteer Support and Buy-In.

At the end of each year, survey your team of volunteers and assess the successfulness of your fundraising campaigns. Weigh the volunteer hours invested against the sales profits to determine if your time was well spent. Consider seller and parent feedback. Were your sellers excited about the fundraising product? Did they find it easy to sell? Did you have a high percentage of seller participation?

Despite a difficult economy where non-profits of all types are competing for your $, Back to school fundraising need not be drudgery. Step back and follow the tips we’ve shared and your fundraising program will be reborn.

What do you love or hate about Back to School fundraising? Comment. We’d love to hear from you!!!