Marketing for School Fundraising Events: A Crash Course

23 Jul 2021 By Roger Devine

Whether you’re a parent of a student or a faculty or staff member, you’ve likely faced the stress that comes with running a successful school fundraising event. Planning involves finding the perfect idea, venue, and most importantly, figuring out how to market your event to your audience for an excellent turnout. After all, without your attendees, you won’t be able to fund your mission!

Regardless of whether you’re hosting a school auction or a walk-a-thon event, it’s crucial to form an effective marketing strategy for your fundraiser. To begin, you must put yourself in the registrants’ shoes and examine how you’ll best reach your target audience — those who care about your school. We’ll take the guesswork out of developing your marketing strategy for your next event with these tips:

  • Build excitement by communicating your fundraising idea
  • Spread the word about your event on multiple platforms
  • Communicate your message at the right time
  • Grab data from your outreach for future event strategy

With these four items in mind, your school fundraising event will take off and help raise money to reach your goal. Let’s get started.

Build excitement by communicating your fundraising idea

You want to help raise money for your school to provide more resources to students and staff. A creative fundraising event idea not only increases excitement in the community but engages supporters to make a positive impact on your school.

You’ll raise more funds with an exciting school fundraising event. It’ll ensure that your marketing materials catch people’s attention. You’ll want to highlight event details in your marketing materials to drive more registrants. Here’s how:

  • Ensure your event is inclusive for all. Make sure your event ticket price is as accessible by supporters no matter their financial situation. Be sure to emphasize in your marketing content that your event is for everyone and that supporters should feel free to contribute within their comfort.
  • Pick a theme for your event. When you choose your event idea, make sure you create excitement by picking a theme. It’s best practice to lead up to your event with marketing materials that build anticipation around its theme. For example, if you’re hosting a school auction fundraiser, you can specify a beach vacation theme where you offer trip packages and related outdoor items.
  • Announce your event idea with your marketing materials. When you have an excellent fundraising event idea, you can build excitement around your event with your marketing content. Consider posting a countdown to your theme announcement to keep registrants intrigued.

When your team begins your marketing planning process with a fresh, creative event idea, your marketing materials will effectively attract as many supporters as possible. When you keep your audience engaged and on the lookout for announcements related to your idea, you’re more likely to have a successful marketing campaign.

Spread the word about your event on multiple platforms

Your nonprofit fundraiser must be marketed on various platforms to reach potential supporters in impactful ways. The best channels are both digital and physical, such as direct mail. If your team neglects to post your material in various places, your messages may get lost in the clutter, resulting in your fundraiser falling short of your attendance goal.

Your team should decide which platforms are most likely going to reach your target audience. Consider your supporter group and how they interact with your school online. For example, ask yourself these questions to determine the best place to post your materials:

  • Which digital platforms do your parents use most?
  • Does your school have a Facebook group?
  • How does your school reach your students?
  • What outreach has been the most successful in the past?

Evaluating these questions about your school is crucial for creating your marketing strategy. Once you know how to reach your audience, you can feel confident that your marketing strategy will be effective. Your platforms may include the following:

Direct Mail

With direct mail, your school can cut through the online chatter and speak directly to supporters. Direct mail can help your fundraising events stand out from all of the content your supporters see on their social media and emails regularly. Physical mail has the following advantages:

  • High visibility
  • The space to include a QR code that sends supporters to your registration or donation page
  • Stands out from the digital content people scroll through passively

If you’re looking for the best ways to communicate with your supporters, GivingMail has some tried-and-true templatesfor the best outreach methods.

With these items, your messages and content will stand out from all of the content your audience interacts with daily. Make sure you include a call-to-action that directs supporters to your fundraising event page in each message.

Social Media

Social media can be the most crowded digital space, but it’s an important engagement tool for your school’s fundraiser marketing efforts. You can get creative with your content, and it’s sharable. When your supporters share your information with their networks, your event gains even more traction. Throughout the campaign, be sure to monitor your social media analytics to determine when traffic on your pages is the heaviest.

Social media platforms are a crucial facet of your strategy when it comes to increasing engagement with your online content. Here’s why:

  • It’s free to post
  • Your supporters can follow and share your pages with their networks
  • Your content appears in their daily lives when they check their social media feeds

Regardless of the platform, make sure that your content is eye-catching, and your registration information is readily available. Be sure you’re not just reusing the same content for each platform and create native posts for each. This ensures you’re using the features of each platform to their full potential.

Email & Text

Email and text messaging are common platforms to capture supporters’ attention, as they receive these messages directly in their inboxes or phone notifications. Make sure your content is as impactful as possible with a few best practices:

1. Address your recipients. Don’t just use the phone number or email address from your school’s directory. Customize your messages with information such as:

  • Supporters’ names
  • Engagement history
  • Preferred pronouns

This will create a message that will catch your supporter’s eye. For example, at the beginning of your message, use their name, rather than just saying, “Dear Donor.”

2. Communicate your goal. Let your potential attendees know why you’re hosting your event. For example, let them know that the registration fee alone can buy art supplies for one student for an entire year.

3. Appeal to their emotions. Tell your potential supporters why their contribution is essential to the school they’re already involved with. GivingMail’s tips for the best fundraising appeals suggests that you can communicate this effectively by including images in your messaging that demonstrate donor impact. These might consist of photos of kids studying or playing at recess or an infographic that illustrates how your fundraiser will directly improve student learning.

In your marketing strategy, pick a few platforms to include in a multichannel approach. You’ll be able to reach more people and get more registrants for your school fundraiser.

Communicate your message at the right time

According to this guide to marketing for nonprofits, recognizing that there’s a right time to post your marketing content is essential. You can’t run a successful fundraiser if you don’t communicate details promptly to those who are potentially interested.

To be as prepared as possible, you’re probably planning your event months. Once your team confirms the details, launch your marketing campaign as soon as possible. This tactic will build excitement and reach as many people as possible ahead of your event.

No matter the platform you’re posting on or sending messages through, you’ll want to include the following event information in your marketing materials such as:

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Registration information
  • Exciting details such as the theme or any special guests

By including this critical information, your registrants can know when and how to participate in the fundraising event you worked so hard to plan.

Grab data from your outreach for future event strategy

Finally, our last tip for maximizing your marketing outreach is to review your recent event and improve your next marketing plan based on accurate data. Your team can gather this information from your online registration, social media KPIs, and other relevant engagement data. Here’s how it can help with your next fundraising event:

Update your marketing strategy.

Now that you’ve run a marketing campaign for your school fundraiser use your data to confirm what you’re doing right and what you can fix. For example, take a look at the engagements on your Instagram posts versus your Facebook posts. Here’s what you can find:

  • Which platform had more engagements?
  • What are the defining features of posts that did well versus others?
  • Were there any influxes in followers throughout the campaign, and why?

By considering your KPIs for your campaign, you’re able to build out an even more effective marketing strategy for your next school fundraising event.

Thank your registrants.

After your school fundraising event, it’s best practice to send out thank-you notes to all who donated or volunteered with your fundraisers. Use your registration data to address your supporters by name and ensure your letters go to the correct recipients. This is recommended because the practice of recognizing your school’s supporters can go a long way for retaining their support in the future.

Seek input for upcoming school fundraising ideas.

Now that you have your registrant’s contact information use it to your advantage to get some essential feedback. When your supporters see that you consider and incorporate their feedback, you strengthen those relationships and build a foundation for more improved future fundraisers. Some suggestions of questions to ask include:

  • What they thought went well
  • What areas of your event could be improved going forward
  • If any social media outreach stood out to them

With these simple questions and any other aspects you want constructive feedback for, you’ll be able to move forward in your planning with your supporter’s opinions in mind.

Creating a marketing strategy for your school fundraising event doesn’t have to be difficult, but it must be done intentionally. Be sure to spread the word across multiple platforms, and include only pertinent information in your content. Once you’ve run your campaign, take a look at what can be improved. Happy fundraising!