Frustrated With Results from Your School Fundraisers? 6 Easy Tips for Kick-Ass Fundraising

Successful school fundraisers can happen – with creativity, participation, and planning. Here’s how you can ensure your next fundraiser will more profitable with less stress.

Of course, creating successful school fundraisers is the goal of all school and parent volunteers as they plan their fundraising calendar. But, given the range of challenges fundraising presents – time, volunteers, participation, you name it! – it’s SO important to get out ahead. Here are six tips to help you and your organization ensure greater success for your next fundraiser.

  1. Numero uno! Think ahead – start planning early. As with any big undertaking, the earlier you get things started, the better. Give yourself and your volunteers more lead-time and, chances are, you’ll probably raise more money for your efforts. Spring fundraiser? Get the ball rolling early in the new year. Fundraising in the fall? Lay the groundwork even before school lets out for summer to give everyone the time they need to hit the ground running when school starts in September. Give yourself a couple of months to ensure your best chances of success.
  2. Assign help. You can’t do this alone! Let’s face it, the success of your school fundraisers will only be as strong as your team. Leverage the skills and talents of your volunteers to help assign the critical roles necessary to be successful. If you can choose:
    • OCD/Type A Coordinator. This person may, in fact, be you, but you’ll need help! Be sure to ask a like-minded volunteer who can take some of the organizing and management off your hands who can help track the fundraising milestones, take charge of reporting, managing task lists and deadlines.
    • Communications Volunteer. Communications – email, social media, website, press releases, and others – are critical. It can also be time-consuming. Ask that parent who is good with words – sending out short, encouraging reminders to the team and your community of parents throughout the fundraiser.
    • Counting Beans. Any fundraiser comes down to the money. Ask someone good with numbers to keep track of the funds and banking.
  3. Know where the money goes.  Do you know what you’re raising the money for? Do you know how much money is required to make it happen? Identify clear, specific goals. This information will keep everyone on the same page as well as keep the team motivated and focused. Understand the goal and you can use it to promote your fundraiser and generate more interest. Help your donor community visualize the good things their money will do.
  4. Communicate!  Put your communications volunteer to work – clear, simple communication keeps things on track and helps keep the team in the loop. Be sure everyone knows what’s coming up, what to expect, share details with parents and donors, remind students of their responsibilities, give participants the information they need to collect funds and fulfill orders.
  5. Expand the reach. Don’t assume that your fundraiser is only relevant to your community. Consider taking it to a wider audience and a whole new community of donors. Whether it’s through social media or including your workplace or other activities (book club, place of worship) you’ll find more eager donors.
  6. Utilize helpful tools. Fundraising is so much easier when you use helpful tools. Shameless plug: an application like Fundables App can streamline the entire lifecycle of any fundraiser, to help your organization expand reach, collect funds, and make more money. We’re here to assist you with the fundraising process so you can reach your goals.

BONUS TIP: This point cannot be overstated – don’t forget to say “thank you.” You have to let your volunteer team know their tireless efforts are appreciated. Consider simple thank you cards made by the kids or a celebratory BBQ to wrap up the fundraiser. You also want to extend gratitude to those who supported your fundraiser – thank you notes or even a community announcement goes a long way toward boosting community spirit and ensuring they participate in your next fundraiser.

You can do this! Fundables can help take the time, labour, and stress out of some of your fundraising efforts. Contact us to learn how!

Non-profits, Fundraising & Technology: 2020 is Your Year to Jump into the 21st Century

Make 2020 your organization’s year to jump into the 21st century… enjoy more ease, better efficiency, and raise more money!

When it comes to fundraising, non-profits and other organizations are still very much last century when it comes to raising the money they need.

Volunteers, parents, athletes and other members of fundraising teams are hitting up potential donors – door-to-door, via email, across social media – in an ad-hoc, hit-or-miss way chasing down funds and collecting money in paper envelopes. Paper envelopes that inevitably fall to the chief organizer to sift through, calculate, and somehow accurately report.

As mentioned, there are some aspects of technology that fundraisers are incorporating, albeit in a haphazard and disorganized manner. Every day, for instance, parents are posting their kids’ fundraising activities – walk-a-thons, product sales, charity events, and other means of raising money – on social media. Yeehaw!

But… because of the unsystematic approach, while the funds are being raised, it’s a mess for parents and volunteer participants: manually recording purchases and trying to collect funds; the whole process becomes an annual obligatory pain in the ass! It’s also a bookkeeping nightmare for the organizer at the top of the campaign – only slightly better than napkins scrawled with team members’ fundraising results – where he or she must collate, tabulate, calculate, and record in some kind of decipherable manner.

Bring on Technology – and a Renewed Sense of Efficiency!

It’s high time your organization embraced technology as a power for innovation and good. You probably already know that the sphere of technology is unavoidable. Chances are you’re connected personally. So don’t try to avoid it for fundraising and non-profit activity.

Rather, there are several remarkable interfaces that will not only improve your organizational efficiency but improve donor experiences as well.

Let 2020 be the year where technology helps you reach more prospective donors, promote your fundraising efforts, and expand your reach to help make new friends for your organization.

One of the primary concerns of non-profits is the desire to improve donor engagement while expanding their digital footprint. Here are a variety of ways organizations can amp up their digital profile, expand their reach and engagement with existing and potential donors, and enhance their fundraising efforts:

  1. Improve Your Website: It’s common for non-profit organizations to prioritize looking for money to support their programs and resources. Of course. But, consequently, the state of their website is quite often lacking – designs reminiscent of 1998, in many cases. No more! As most searches are performed on mobile devices, it’s vitally important your website is mobile-friendly. In fact, to be recognized by Google, a mobile-friendly website is now required. Use your new website to promote your Calls to Action (CTA), where your “Donate Now” or “Volunteer” buttons are front and centre. Your website doesn’t have to be complicated or expansive. In fact, a single page, dynamic scroll will suit for most organizations, or at the most include two or three pages to make your mission clear.
  2. Employ Content & Social Media Marketing: Content is truly king in this Information Age and keeping your website and social media up-to-date with fresh, consistent material. Fresh content serves a couple of different objectives: Google loves regularly posted, fresh content and ranks accordingly; Google also loves websites that are linked to by ‘Top 10″ ranked sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. – posting your blog or website content frequently on social media platforms does just that; web and social media activity allow you to establish your authority in your space, helping to validate your efforts and encourage a sense of trust among your target audience.
  3. Expand Your Email List with Engaging Content: Along with social media, email marketing is a must. It may even be more important as it isn’t subject to the ebb and flow of social media popularity. Promote the benefits of signing up for your email newsletters as much as possible. All of us have inboxes overflowing – we’re more likely to open emails that are meaningful to them or spark interest. Create emails that are relevant, interesting, and engaging; encouraging click-throughs to your fresh web content as well as your CTAs. The average open rate for nonprofits remains relatively high at 15% – 17.5%. Improve and maintain your rates by using an intriguing title and include engaging content. CliniSpan Health provides nonprofits with free content to improve fundraising capabilities.
  4. Incorporate Video: Video doesn’t have to involved, professionally produced, or particularly glamorous. Video is hugely engaging and popular and people are just as interested in genuine, casual videos recorded on your phone as anything properly produced. Don’t concern yourself with rehearsing and scripts, go for authenticity! Talk about your next campaign or provide fun scenes from a recent event. Post on your social media platforms weekly or monthly. Your goal – developing connection!A
  5. Clever, User-friendly App Solutions: Make it easy to help people give! A fundraising management application such as Fundables allows easy setup and launch of a fundraising campaign while allowing for ease of donation, saving time for all involved – organizer, team members, and prospective donors. But, do some research to find out what application will suit your needs best. First priority: make it a piece of cake for your donors!
  6. Thank-You Notes: After pursuing high tech, efficient digital solutions, when it comes to gratitude you’ve got permission to step it back, old school! Thanking your donors with hand-written notes will go a long way toward providing a personal touch. In the world of online e-donations, you want to make your donors feel sincerely appreciated. An instant receipt and automated e-thank-you should always be followed by a personalized written note. The donor will feel the love and be more inclined to give again!

Fundables can help take the time, labour, and stress out of some of your fundraising efforts. Contact us to learn how!

Education Fundraising: Necessary Evil?

For better, or for (not necessarily) worse, education fundraising helps provide the valuable resources that meet the needs of today’s students.

Let’s take the ‘evil’ off the table for a minute and just stick with the necessary. Education fundraising refers to the many ways schools bring in money from private sources, including parents, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, alumni, foundations, and universities and colleges.

And, it has, due to a variety of factors, become a very necessary part of our children’s experience at school. Schools and parents often fundraise to top up government funding shortfalls so they can provide students with a wider range of opportunities than school budgets can offer.

Dollars raised purchase all kinds of resources:

  • school supplies
  • books
  • musical instruments
  • technology
  • drama productions
  • athletic programs
  • playground equipment
  • school trips
  • and much, much more.

The right fundraiser can have huge payoffs

Effective fundraising can provide a big pay off for schools that do it right. For instance, a handful of schools in Toronto, Ontario, raised over $300 per student last year – more than 30 times what many other schools raised.

When it comes to schools in regions or districts with more limited resources, however, fundraising has become a vital part of the education landscape to ensure students can have the advantages and benefits enjoyed by kids in communities with better access and support.

According to data collected from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation and the Adopt a School Program, current school budgets only allow for one new library book a year for every three children in many economically disadvantaged communities in Canada.

In fact, teachers are spending more than $200 million of their own money each year on books and resources, an average of about $453 in individual out-of-pocket costs.

As a result of these shortfalls, education fundraising has become big business in Canada and North America. National numbers are sketchy, but in Ontario alone, schools fundraised more than half a billion dollars in a single school year, according to Ontario-based non-profit People for Education (PFE). Keep in mind that the half-billion-dollar figure includes more traditional fundraising as well as income from sources like school fees, vending machines, and corporate sponsorships.

Remarkably, one Ontario school alone managed to raise a whopping $400,000.

School groups in the United States raised more than $1.5 billion every year selling various products for educational needs.

A recent PFE survey focusing exclusively on elementary schools found that 52 percent of reported fundraising goes toward essentials such as textbooks, classroom supplies, and computers. 

Fundraisers – a parent’s second (or third) job!

Fundraising activities range broadly and can be very creative. Everything from old standbys like pizza lunches, bake sales, chocolate-covered-almond and wrapping-paper drives to big-ticket money-makers such as theatre nights, black-tie galas, and “direct-ask” donation campaigns.

And this is on top of additional community fundraisers. “Every direction they turn, parents are saturated with fundraising,” says Naomi Kruse, administrative officer with the Manitoba Association of Parent Councils, and mother two. “It can sap a parent, not only financially but also physically and emotionally.”

With all the work that volunteers put in versus the amount reaped, John Puddifoot, the chair of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) at Queen Mary Elementary School in Vancouver, says that they would get more monetary benefit if parents simply found part-time jobs and contributed that salary to the school. Crazy! 

While we can’t do anything about the need to fundraise for your school. And we can’t take away the reasons your school needs to fundraise – we can help make your fundraising easier! Fundables can help take the time, labour, and stress out of some of your fundraising efforts.

Contact us to learn how!

5 Proven Ideas for Effective – and Fun! – Fundraisers

Organizations are always looking for fun, new ideas for their fundraisers. Here are 10 possibilities to inject some fun into your next campaign.

It’s important to shake things up throughout your various fundraisers, for your volunteers and your donors. But, you also want to know before you embark on any fundraising effort – taking up the valuable time and resources of so many volunteers and families – that the method you choose will produce results.

Chances are though if you know your target audience for the campaign, and you make it fun for everyone, the time and effort of planning and deploying a fresh, new fundraiser should be as successful as you’d hoped. Here are a few ideas to add a little zing the next time you’re organizing to raise money:

Community Yard Sale

A great springtime event, this helps get the community motivated for spring cleaning while also providing a fun neighbourhood event to help raise funds for your organization. Most everyone has a closet or garage full of things that they need to get rid of, so encourage your friends and neighbours to bust out their old lawn mowers, clothes, and furniture and donate for a good cause.

Things to think about: you’ll need space – an empty parking lot or streets with little to no traffic on the day of the event. Will you have booth space for sellers to reserve or will it be a bit of a free-for-all shopping experience with a check-out strategically placed at the exit? Will you offer opportunities for selling food and beverages; will they be professional vendors or will you incorporate home-made baking and cooking into your fundraising? How you design your yard sale will determine how many hands you’ll need to organize, implement, and manage.

How to make money: sales of donated items.

Organize a Concert

A concert event can be as big and involved – or not! – as you want it to be.

If you think only big charities can host a benefit concert, think again. Nonprofits of any size can run one of these fundraisers. Choose a performer, or performers, that you know will appeal to your target audience and get planning.

Things to think about: This idea requires significant lead time – months if you can. You can inquire into local or regional bands and performers happy to perform. You might even be able to get them to consider donating their talents in-kind but talk to them about the options. After the band(s), securing a venue is one of the bigger components to the project, along with security, insurance, and any other logistics. It’s all about marketing so be sure you’ve got email, social media, and website covered!

How to make money: concert ticket sales.

Dunk Tank Fundraisers!

A fabulous warm weather activity that is HUGELY popular!

Dunk tanks are a great fundraiser for churches, schools, and other organizations. It’s really effective when combined with a company BBQ or another outdoor event. All you need is an unfortunate volunteer or two (ideally, the school principal or your boss!) to sacrifice themselves for the good of your cause.

Things to think about: You can rent a dunk tank from most party rental stores. Plan to pay about $200 for a half-day rental.

How to make money: Charge by the number of throws and, depending on the dunking victim, watch the money roll in!

Host a BINGO

This is a fast and easy activity that’s a ton of fun and a super-effective way to make money with low over head. Offer great prizes to the winners and keep the BINGO card revenue.

An activity for young and old, everyone loves a rousing game of BINGO! Easy to plan and not exactly labour intensive, an afternoon of BINGO can provide great results among your roster of fundraisers.

Things to think about: Contact nonprofits in your community (or the local BINGO hall) to see if anyone has a set of BINGO balls, cards, and markers/tabs you can rent or, ideally, borrow. Most of your time will be spent soliciting local businesses for donations to provide as prizes.

How to make money: Charge per BINGO card or per collection of cards.

Sell Products

Product sales for fundraising

The Girl Guides knew what they were doing! Tried and true, you can really choose from just about anything to sell for this fool-proof fundraising activity. Support regional businesses – products and services – and offer those you find appropriate for sale to your target audience. A great way to support your local business while providing great product or service as a way to easily raise funds for your organization.

If a particular product or service has proven a high seller in the past, stick with a winner. Or, mix it up and support other businesses and products for variety.

Things to think about: You’ll have to choose and vet the service or product(s) you want to sell as well as identify the variables (ie. flavours, sizes, etc.). Enlist children, parents, families, as partners in the project where they take on the sales to their own family and friends.

How you’ll make money: Your service or product vendors will likely charge your organization their wholesale price and you will collect the profit.

Fortunately, with the advent of the Internet and social media, product selling as an effective fundraiser no longer means sending little Jane and Johnny door-to-door.

Fundables Fundraising Management App can make your next product sales or event ticket fundraisers seamless, easy, and effective! Create, launch, and get the word out about your next fundraising campaign – fundraising at your fingertips!

Contact us to learn more!

Fundraising for Youth Sports? Here’s Your Game Plan!

Fundraising can be hard work! What works best when fundraising for your youth sports league or organization.

With youth sports more costly and time-consuming than ever, there are no shortages of fundraising activities going on throughout Canada and the United States to support our kids’ participation in all manner of activity: minor hockey, soccer, golf, curling, alpine and nordic skiing, you name it!

As a result, you’ll be asked to support everything from car washes to lotteries and auctions to skip-and walk-a-thons. Or, chances are you’ll be asked to purchase chocolate bars, calendars, and coffee beans to help teams raise the funds they need to be competitive.

For many families, fundraising is what allows their son or daughter to participate.

But how do you do it right? How do you encourage people involved so the burden isn’t falling to the same few active parents? What methods – and tools – are the most effective and raise the most funds fast?

Get started early

One of the most common reasons youth sports fundraisers fail is because they’ve been thrown together too late, last minute, and far too quickly and haphazardly.

At the first parent’s meeting or the AGM, before the season even begins, is when the plans have to be put in motion. Parents have to be informed, prepared that there’s an expectation of participation, and intentions have to be known, including timeline, strategy, tools, and goals.

To try to get started once the season is underway is difficult as weekends are spoken for, parents begin to get overwhelmed with the demand of the season and their lives in general, and it’s harder to rally support.

Get a jump early on so it can go on the calendar and everyone has the lead time to make the effort necessary to make whichever means of fundraising you choose successful.

Prepare and state your case to encourage participation

When appealing for support and participation it’s so important that you’re able to articulate clearly what’s in it for the team and the parents. You need to be able to show volunteers and parents why the programs are beneficial.

People’s time is valuable to them and unless you can prove inherent value to them, it will be hard to enlist help, particularly enthusiastic and positive help! Explain the potential increase in expenses without a vital injection of funds raised; Identify clearly what the youth sports team, club, or organization might have to go without if the necessary money isn’t raised through fundraising and parents’ support.

Let everyone know what the costs of keeping the club or organization going really are. Make the compromises or sacrifices tangible and easy to see because until people see the hard numbers, they may not be clear as to why fundraising, and their time and energy, is so important.

Grow a thick skin!

As any organizer knows, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page and in agreement. There’s always going to be a parent – or two, or three! – who don’t agree with how things are being organized or implemented.

Prepare yourself for a dozen other people who think they know better. Inevitably, you as an organizer is going to be subject to criticism.

In addition to a thick skin, it will be important to enlist an effective communicator (who also has a thick skin!) to help explain decisions to the parent group. And to be able to withstand shall we say exuberant feedback and possibly opposition.

Understand your target donor audience

Whether you choose to sell a product, conduct a car-wash, gather a collection of incredible prizes for silent auction, it’s important to understand the best method for your customer base. Make it something you know your community of potential donors will be interested in.

As in business, understanding your target audience will mean the difference between success and failure.

Switch it up and keep it fresh

Don’t be afraid to be creative! People like something new and fresh.

But, being original doesn’t mean you abandon previous fundraising methods that are proven. If it works, stick with it, but don’t be afraid to try new methods if they could better benefit the organization. A mix of novelty with something that’s tried and true is a great way to offer diversity and freshness while still holding on to an approach you know works.

The more established your fundraising efforts – consistency from campaign to campaign, year to year – the more trust, perhaps even anticipation you’ll enjoy from prospective donors. Adding a little zing will simply keep them intrigued and likely even earn you better results.

KISS!

Keep. It. Simple. Silly!

Rule of thumb is to plan only one or two larger campaigns per year rather than several small ones. 1. Parents will be prone to fundraising exhaustion; 2. So will your target! And, as many fundraisers rely on appealing to friends and family for donations, too many events asking for them to purchase or donate money can actually become annoying.

Planning a select one or two larger fundraisers per year avoids fundraising overload for everyone involved, ultimately making them more profitable.

Don’t get too ambitious as you approach your campaign. Selling a product? Choose one high quality, popular product that you know will provide purchaser satisfaction as well as great fundraising results. Opting for a fun comedy night? Keep it to the performance alone – don’t overwhelm busy parent volunteers with a full-on dinner theatre!

Delegate – seek help!

The fact is, a campaign is only as strong as its team. No one, even you as Organizer Extraordinaire, can’t do everything on your own. The best way to ensure your fundraising success is to find a reliable helper to help carry some of the load. Not to mention help provide feedback, ideas, and even simply a valuable sounding board.

Finding a few people to whom you can delegate tasks, particularly if they’re well-suited, is ideal. For instance, task an accountant-parent with keeping track of finances; blogger-mom with communications; a tech-savvy parent with managing the website and associated technology tools.

The old adage, ‘many hands make light work’ is absolutely true when it comes to volunteer work and fundraising. The more people involved, the easier, and likely more profitable, the entire project will be. So don’t be afraid to ask!

Regardless of the type of campaign you choose, or how satisfying you ultimately find it, fundraising is a challenging undertaking.

Contact us to see how Fundables can help ease some of the volunteer burdens for you and your team!

 

National Volunteer Week April 7-13, 2019

We celebrate the legions of volunteers – the people who touch our lives and communities every day – making wonderful things (big and small) happen that benefit us all.

National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration observed in many countries, to promote and show appreciation for volunteerism and volunteering. In Canada, it is organized by Volunteer Canada; and the Points of Light Foundation in the United States.

When we look at the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that Canada and others are committed to achieving by 2030, there is not a single goal that does not involve volunteers. Whether working to eliminate hunger, promoting quality education or reducing inequalities. It comes down to volunteers. 

For most volunteers, it’s about giving back, giving to others, without much consideration about what they might be getting out of their hard work and selflessness. However, the benefits of volunteering can be significant to the volunteer, their family, and their community. The right fit can help reduce stress, find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and possibly even advance a career. Giving to others has also been proven to aid mental and physical health.

But, not surprisingly, the benefits they might reap aren’t typically the motivation behind the volunteer spirit for most. Look at the volunteers you know: they’re invested, involved, and engaged in helping others as well as their neighbourhoods and larger communities.

For the over 13 million Canadians participating in volunteer efforts, and the 62.8 million in the United States; yes, it brings them satisfaction and joy. But, more importantly to these committed volunteers in our lives and communities, it brings the people they serve much-needed aid, relief, care, and so much more.

And that’s why they do it. A need to serve. A need to help. A desire to leave the world just a little bit better than the way they found it.

So, on this week, let’s make a special effort to recognize the wonderful volunteers we know and love. Let them know you appreciate all they do to make our lives, as well as so many others, just that much more joyful!

Thank you volunteers!

Have Product, Will Sell. Still a Popular Means of Fundraising

Indirect financial support – purchasing product – is a fool-proof, effective, and popular means for fundraising. Just ask the Girl Guides!

Despite the rise of crowdfunding platforms and apps designed to accept donations with a single click, there’s still an old-school means of fundraising that continues to be as popular as it is effective.

In fact, in 71% of Canadians purchased goods (e.g., chocolate bars, cookies, poppies, you name it!) from charities and volunteer organizations, to the tune of almost $1 billion each year.

It’s an old model for sure, but still very much alive. For almost a century, the Girl Guides have effectively proved that selling a quality product is a great way to make money. A win-win for everyone: the organization makes money supporting and selling a great product and the purchaser enjoys the satisfaction of not only donating to a worthy cause but gets a little something for their contribution.

History of the Girl Guide Cookie

In 1927, an ambitious leader of a chapter of Girl Guides in Regina, Saskatchewan baked and packaged cookies for her girls to sell as a simple way to raise money for their uniforms and camping equipment.

Little did she know that she was starting one of Canada’s best-loved and tasty traditions – Girl Guide cookies!

Almost 100 years later, Girl Guide cookies are the official fundraiser of Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada. All money raised through the sale of the cookies supports girls and women in Guiding by:

  • Helping them provide diverse and exciting programs and activities 
  • Allowing girls the chance to discover new interests, learn valuable leadership skills and making lasting friendships 
  • Assisting girls and leaders to attend camps and events 
  • Providing training and support for Guiding leaders

It isn’t just Girl Guides of course. There are thousands of product-based fundraising campaigns launched each year throughout Canada and beyond. Items ranging from baked goods to chocolate bars to wrapping paper to grocery gift cards and more continue to provide for millions of organizations in need.

Are you planning a fundraising campaign? Let Fundables make your next campaign – raising the money your organization needs! – easier than ever.

Sign up to learn more about the NEW Fundables Fundraising Management app, coming soon!