4 Easy Ways to Raise Money for Your School
by Korri Piper, Sales and Marketing Consultant & Director of Vendor Relationships, ShopRaise
Raising money for your school requires organized fundraising campaigns, a giving community, and a little bit of creativity. Thankfully, not every fundraiser needs months of dedicated planning or a high investment of resources to get off the ground. In fact, there are many easy ways to start raising money for your school.
While your exact fundraising totals will be determined by your neighborhood and community’s ability to give, schools have a number of options to raise money throughout the year. From annual events to year-long online shopping fundraisers, your school can combine a number of fundraising approaches to maximize your potential yearly revenue.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to get started fundraising, this article will discuss four easy methods for schools to raise money:
- School Auctions
- Online Shopping Fundraisers
- Product Fundraisers
- Event Fundraisers
As mentioned, there’s no need for your school to choose one type of fundraiser and stick to it alone. Rather, these ideas are easy for schools to run year after year, meaning that with a little preparation, your school can likely run all four fundraisers throughout the school year (though not all at once!).
1. School Auctions
Online auctions are a popular fundraiser for several reasons. Organizations, like schools, are able to run them over the course of several days, giving supporters plenty of time to bid on items. Further, while auctions do take some preparation, the right online tools will help you get set up quickly and encourage guests to start bidding. After these initial investments, you’ll just need to set a date, send out your procurement team to collect items, and market your event to drive attendance.
There are many small actions your school can take to improve your auction’s success, including:
- Bundling together small items. Your procurement team may snag some high-value items for your school’s auction, but it’s also likely they’ll obtain many moderate and lower-value items. Instead of putting each of these up for auction individually, bundle them together to create themed gift baskets and packages. For example, s’mores supplies, a picnic basket, and camping gear could be grouped together for an outdoor adventure basket.
- Selecting the right software settings. Your auction software’s settings will determine how guests are able to interact with your auction. For example, you can control how guests bid by letting them set maximum bids, which allow them to maintain the highest bid with progressively higher intervals until their maximum threshold is exceeded.
- Saving guest information. When guests register for your online auction, be sure to save their information. Doing so will allow you to speed up the checkout process, as you’ll already have their payment information and mailing address. Plus, if the same guests come back for your next auction, they won’t need to re-enter their information, reducing data entry.
Remember that auctions are also an opportunity to build relationships with local businesses. Reach out to businesses that offer unique experiences, such as classes, presentations, or events to gather intriguing items for your guests. Then, follow up afterward to thank them for their contribution. Also, if their item was won for a particularly high price, share the news with them!
2. Online Shopping Fundraisers
Online shopping fundraisers are an often overlooked way for schools to earn reliable income throughout the year. Online shopping fundraisers work best as a supplemental revenue source that schools can run in addition to other fundraising events due to their ease of use and ability to generate significant funds over time.
With online shopping fundraisers, all your supporters need to do is download your online shopping platform’s browser and app, then buy the same items they normally would from participating retailers. Then, a portion of their spending goes to your school at no additional expense to either your supporters or your school. The contributions come from the retailers, meaning online shopping can effectively earn your school free donations!
Online shopping platform, ShopRaise, outlines how schools can sign up and get started with an online shopping fundraiser in just three steps:
- Partner with an online shopping platform. Research shopping fundraising platforms to partner with by assessing them for ease of use and participating retailers. Look for a platform that is partnered with businesses that members of your community already shop at. Doing so will provide as convenient an experience for your supporters as possible.
- Market your shopping fundraiser. Get the word out about your shopping fundraiser to encourage your supporters to download the necessary app and browser extension, so they can start earning for your school. Market your shopping fundraiser in your newsletters, on your website, or even send an email to community members to let them know about the opportunity. Plus, some online shopping platforms provide marketing materials such as flyers and branded emails to help.
- Track your results. Once your supporters start making purchases, you will begin to collect data that reports your top spenders. The contents of your supporters’ purchases will be kept secret to protect their privacy, but you should be able to monitor who is making significant purchases so you can thank them appropriately.
The biggest advantage of online shopping fundraisers is that they can be set up and run at no cost to your school or your supporters. All contributions come from the online shopping platform’s partner retailers, meaning these fundraisers are effectively free money for your school.
3. Product Fundraisers
Those familiar with cookie dough fundraisers, bake sales, and branded school merchandise stores need no introduction to product fundraisers. Whether you’re familiar with product fundraisers or not, they’re a standard fundraising method for schools that rely on support from both students and your local community to provide contributions in exchange for products purchased in bulk at low prices by the school.
If your product fundraiser features something people in your community want, these fundraisers can be a great way to encourage people to shop for your cause and support your school while earning something for themselves as a bonus.
Of course, even with wide community support, product fundraisers don’t run themselves. ABCFundraising’s guide to school fundraisers offers some advice on how schools can maximize their product fundraisers’ earning potential:
- Gather parent input. While your students will be your main sales force, the parents are ultimately the ones who will decide how many sales opportunities their child will have. Form an event committee of parents to provide consultation and pitch multiple product fundraising options to see which has the widest appeal.
- Use direct mail to market your fundraiser. Product fundraisers are often accompanied by physical order forms, which supporters can fill out to place an order. This means that product fundraisers pair well with direct mail as you can send order forms directly to members of your community along with other updates on your school.
- Track your progress. With so many students selling products individually and at their own pace, product fundraisers can get a little chaotic without the proper management tools. Make sure to keep careful records not just of your students, but also of your donors and overall fundraising records so you can determine where your event succeeded and what could stand to be improved.
Keep in mind that you should also choose a product fundraiser students can get excited about. Student engagement ultimately determines how successful your fundraiser will be. Make sure to educate them on why they’re selling products, as well as how to stay safe when going around your community to make sales.
4. Event Fundraisers
From galas to carnivals, event fundraisers are a way to raise money while giving your students fun activities to participate in after school hours. Event fundraisers collect funds from ticket sales, merchandise, food sales, and other event-specific purchases such as bidding on items at an auction. And all of these can be done through your SchoolAuction.net account!
Use online resources like this one to get inspired by the sheer variety of fundraisers you can throw, or stick to a few proven classics. Here are three easy events your school can host to earn funds:
- Walk-a-thons. To hold a successful walk-a-thon, all you need is a track, volunteers, plenty of water bottles, and energetic students. Students fundraise before the start of the walk-a-thon by collecting pledges. Each pledge is a supporter’s promise to donate a certain amount per completed lap. Then, on the day of the walk-a-thon they can challenge themselves to walk or run as much as they can for the duration of the event.
- Raffles. Raffles are a great addition to any event or can be hosted on their own over the course of a week to encourage as much participation as possible. You can get creative with how you set up your raffle, too. While standard raffle tickets always work, you can mix things up by holding a balloon raffle. With this raffle, the tickets are placed inside balloons and participants are invited to pop their balloons at the event’s end to reveal the winner.
- Talent shows. Talent shows need a stage and a group of students, eager to show off their skills. Talent shows can be run quickly with an initial audition/preview of each participant ahead of time. Then, on the night of the show, sell tickets and concessions to raise funds for your school.
A successful school event isn’t just an effective fundraiser. They’re also an opportunity for students to form positive memories about their time at your school. From guessing games making a week extra fun to read-a-thons encouraging students to find new stories, choose events that not only will raise money but will give your community something to look forward to.
Raising money for your school doesn’t need to be a challenge. Between events that are just as much fun for your students as the activities they are meant to fund and convenient fundraisers such as online shopping, your school can raise money and create a better experience for your students while doing so. To get started, research ideas online and learn how you can partner with trusted school fundraising platforms.