There are many benefits to hosting traditional fundraising events at school. Schools always need extra money to fund classroom resources, support student programs and update infrastructure.
Fundraising events can also help build a connected community and can lead to a lot of fun, laughter and memories.
Fundraising is important but can take a lot of effort. So, if you’re going to invest time and resources into a fundraising campaign, it pays to do it the smart way and maximise your gains.
Whether you’re running a crazy hair day, disco, car wash or spelling bee, I’ve got lots of tips to make your fundraiser as profitable and successful as possible.
13 ideas for more successful school fundraisers
But first, let’s consider the benefits of setting up a fundraising plan.
What’s a School Fundraising Plan and Why do I Need One?
Taking the time to put together a written fundraising plan can ensure you get the most reward for effort. Have you ever been in the situation where a new term begins and everyone starts throwing around ideas for the next fundraiser? There can be a lot of time wasted just exploring and debating possibilities. Before you know it, half the term could be over!
A fundraising plan is like a roadmap that ensures everyone is on the same page. All members of your school community know what your funding goals are and how you’ll get there.
Fundraising plans are ideally created at the start of a school year – or even the end of the previous year so you can hit the ground running. However, it’s never too late to create your fundraising roadmap.
Who will put the plan together? It depends on how your school is structured. For some schools, it will be the School Council, for others it will be the Parents’ Association. Whoever drives the plan, it pays to seek input from a range of stakeholders.
5 Steps to Creating a School Fundraising Plan
Let’s go through some basic steps to bringing your school fundraising plan to life.
1. Check the legalities
The first step is to make sure any fundraising plans are in line with your education department guidelines. For example, New South Wales government schools can explore this bulletin for advice and Victorian government schools can find advice on the DET website.
2. Set your goals
What do you need to raise money for? Maybe you already have clear objectives or perhaps you need to check with administrators, teachers, parents and students to find out about their real wants and needs.
3. Decide on your approach to fundraising
As we saw in my recent post: How to Master School Fundraising and Actually Make Money, there are pros and cons to hosting traditional fundraisers; a mixed approach can be powerful.
For example, you might want to plan for one larger event (e.g. a fete or art show), with some smaller fun activities (dress up days and raffles) throughout the year. These can be supplemented with funding raised from a Business Directory and Sponsor Banners within the SkoolBag app.
Need help coming up with ideas for fundraiser events? We’ve compiled 40 fun fundraising ideas for primary schools and high schools.
4. Set days and times
When you’ve decided on the activities you want to run, schedule them into the school calendar so everyone knows what to anticipate.
If you’re taking advantage of the Business Directory and Sponsor Banners within SkoolBag, you might want to put that on the calendar too. For example, could the call for partnerships with local businesses be put out during the last week of each term?
5. Publish and share
When your outline is done, it’s time to come up with an overview of your plan that you can share with all members of the school community.
Committee members might keep a more detailed spreadsheet of their annual plan and offer a visual summary to the wider school community.
Here’s an example:
How to Run a Successful School Fundraiser
Now you have your plan in place, you can move on to thinking about the finer details of how to run a profitable and enjoyable school fundraiser. These tips will help! You’ll find a graphic summary below.
1. Encourage all members of the school community to get involved
Put some thought into how you can best recruit volunteers. Rather than just putting out a mass call for help and leaving it at that, could you:
- Personally invite someone you know has a particular skill?
- Approach new members of the school community and encourage them to join a committee or assist with a task?
- Assess whether any families have language barriers or technology barriers that have prevented them from responding to the call for volunteers?
Some people might be willing to help with a little extra encouragement or support.
2. Involve students in the process
Traditionally, adults are the organisers of fundraising events but there are many benefits to involving students. Fundraisers can bring learning to life for students.
They can get real-world experience with project management, communication, problem-solving, teamwork, maths and more.
No matter what sort of fundraiser you’re running, there are probably some ways students can become involved – making posters, counting products or money, assisting with stalls, or setting up spaces. Or better yet, give them voice and choice.
Students could even be invited to present proposals for the next school fundraiser. You might be surprised at the creativity and passion your students demonstrate!
Tip: Check if your education department has guidelines around students’ involvement in fundraising activities. For example, the New South Wales Education Department outline a number of obligations that must be met in this bulletin.
3. Make the aims of your fundraiser clear
When promoting your fundraising campaign, make the goal crystal clear.
For example, instead of just saying you’re running a raffle, explain that you need to raise $2000 to buy an air conditioner for the library.
Don’t forget to update the community about the funds raised and the outcome. Notifications on the SkoolBag app or in your eNewsletter are great for this.
Parents who’ve helped with the fundraiser will feel satisfied that their contribution made a difference. They’ll probably feel encouraged to get involved next time!
4. Offer choices in the way volunteers can contribute
The nature of school fundraising is evolving. Some parents don’t have time to be baking cakes or manning a fete stall. They’d rather make a financial contribution in exchange for their time.
At the same time, many parents can’t afford to make financial contributions but would be happy to help out at a fundraiser for a few hours.
It also suits some parents to help virtually. They might not be able to make it to meetings, but they can design invitations or set up a spreadsheet from home.
Some parents might also be willing to donate their services towards the end goal, rather than towards the fundraiser itself. For example, a parent who’s an electrician might offer to install that air conditioner in the library for a discount rather than buy or sell raffle tickets.
Offering members of the school community choices is a great way to achieve maximum contributions.
5. Streamline administration with digital forms and finances
School fundraisers often involve a variety of administrative tasks. Parent helpers might need to register or submit their Working With Children’s Check. Payments may need to be made for donations, tickets or goods.
Rather than spending hours chasing up cash and paper forms, look for a secure digital alternative.
For example, digital forms are a good alternative to paper notes and you can now accept mobile payments using Braintree straight from the SkoolBag app. Braintree is a PayPal service that’s secure, straightforward and reliable. Find out more about how you can enable payments through eForms with Braintree.
6. Consider how your school could help others
Sadly, there’s a lot of inequality in education around the nation and around the world.
While schools always have a long list of needs, perhaps you could consider how your fundraising efforts could also help a school community that’s worse off.
Maybe a percentage of your profits could go towards a school in a remote Aboriginal community, an underprivileged suburb, or a third world country?
Not only would you be making a big difference in helping all children achieve a quality education, but your own students could also benefit. This could be a great way to start raising students’ social conscience and show them they can make a difference in the world.
7. Promote your event clearly and widely
How will everyone in your school community know about your event? Along with word of mouth and some posters around the school, there are many features within the SkoolBag app that can help.
Your school Newsletter and app are the ideal places to announce your event, build excitement and share regular updates.
Within the app, you can send notifications to the whole school community or just certain Content Groups – e.g. a sports team, a year level or your school council. Notifications can be posted by Group Managers. These can be teachers, parents or other members of the school community. You might have Class Parents who take on the role of a Group Manager.
The SkoolBag calendar allows your community to see when events are coming up and sync these dates to their own calendars.
You can also schedule reminder notifications on the day so no one forgets to dress up, bring their gold coin, or attend your special event.
8. Thank your contributors
When your fundraiser is all said and done, you might want to put your feet up and relax but don’t forget to thank all of the key players first.
Along with personal thanks or public announcements at a school assembly, consider how you can show your appreciation digitally.
Pop a message in your next eNewsletter, schedule a notification in SkoolBag to highlight the work of your contributors, or even consider adding Sponsor Banners for any businesses that helped out.
A heartfelt thanks goes a long way. Contributors who feel appreciated will no doubt be encouraged to continue the partnership in the future!
Conclusion: Consider a Mixed Approach to Fundraising
Fundraising plays an important role in most schools. It fills the gap between a school’s allocated funding and their financial needs.
Traditional fundraisers yield many benefits. They’re a great way to generate income while uniting staff, families, students, and the wider community.
Many schools are now conscious of not overburdening busy parents and teachers with too many requests for time or money.
Raising funds through your Business Directory within your SkoolBag app can supplement your income and take the pressure off traditional events. A mix of fundraising options can offer the best results for your school.
A well-funded school means students can achieve their full potential academically, physically, socially and emotionally.
Perhaps it’s time to think outside the box, boost your school funds and help your students thrive!