5 Tips for a successful school fundraiser

5 Fundraising Tips for Schools You Can Implement Today

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With school budgets becoming smaller and smaller each year, a successful school fundraiser is a great way to show your support for your children's education and interests. School fundraisers are frequently used to support a variety of school-related causes:

  • Donate new supplies for a classroom
  • Fund a new technology program
  • Help fund a school play
  • Raise money for new sports equipment/jerseys
  • Support a school trip

With so many great clubs and projects to support at your school, it is important to ensure that you are organizing a successful school fundraiser that stands out from the rest, and helps to make a real difference for students.  In order to help you in your school fundraising endeavors, we have put together a list of our Top 5 Tips for a Successful School Fundraiser. As a general point, keep in mind that the best way to have a successful school fundraiser is to make the donation process as easy as possible. We all know that parents have extremely busy schedules - they will be much more likely to support your cause if you make efficient use of their time!

1. Host a Silent Auction or Raffle

While there are many fundraising formats to choose from for your school fundraiser, we’ve seen that some have outperformed others. Silent auctions and raffles create the perfect combination of interaction and engagement, while also giving participants a chance to win a great prize. All of this happens while still supporting a great cause. Leading into our next tip, silent auctions and raffles are also extremely well structured for digital/online applications.

2. Go Digital

Many of our tips will build on the idea of going digital. As you probably already know, the fundraising industry (especially as it relates to schools) can be outdated at times. In their traditional format, most fundraising methods actually create large barriers for maximizing your donor pool and proceeds raised. Focusing again on silent auctions and raffles, physical bid sheets and paper raffle tickets are a hassle that no donor likes to deal with, making the entire donation process clunky and inefficient.

Luckily, there are some fabulous options out there for online fundraising, and specifically for online silent auctions and raffles. Online fundraising allows you to maximize your reach and make the donation process itself much easier than before, saving your busy donors time, and creating a better donation experience. Switching to a digital format will also make your setup as the fundraiser host much easier, as you will no longer need to create physical bid sheets or donation cards, and can focus all of your important fundraiser information on a user-friendly web page.  

Finally, digital fundraisers allow your donors to make payments online with their credit card - this will almost definitely increase your proceeds, as your donors can pay from anywhere and will avoid the hassle of writing a check.

3. Start Early

Starting your fundraising efforts early will set you up for increased success. While it’s important to start organizing your event early, it’s equally important to create an early channel through which your donors can start contributing.

Do you plan on holding a physical event? If so, set up your fundraiser so that your community can make donations prior to attending your event. This is something that we call maximizing your fundraising length, and it can be one of the biggest advantages you can give yourself, in order to host a successful school fundraiser.

For most fundraising hosts, the best way to maximize fundraising length is to create a donation method that doesn’t rely on being physically present at the fundraiser itself. This could mean anything from an online donation page to a mobile fundraising solution, or even a multi-day fundraising event.

Providing your audience with a longer period for donations also allows your community to socialize and tell their friends about your fundraiser, ultimately leading to a larger donor pool and more funds raised. More on this is in our next tip!

4. Leverage Your Network(s)

There are two major networks that you should focus on, during your fundraiser setup and execution - the parents AND the students (for surprisingly similar reasons)!

Parents - The parents of your school’s students will end up representing the majority of your donor base. But you should also tap into this vast network for help in setting up a successful fundraiser. Through your Parent Teacher Organization, you should easily be able to contact this potentially huge network. We suggest reaching out for two specific purposes:

- Item Donations - Especially if you are running a silent auction or raffle, having valuable fundraiser items is a must. Your network of parents is low hanging fruit for item collection, so always be sure to include them in your item solicitation outreach!

- Social Media - Any time that you have a large network at your disposal, you should be putting heavy emphasis on mobilizing them and harnessing their social reach. Using an online fundraising solution like Accelevents will allow you to share a dedicated fundraising page out to your audience. These parents can then share the page on their social media sites, effectively increasing your fundraiser’s reach and donor base exponentially!

Students - Your students are likely to be your most passionate force in raising donations for a school fundraiser. In addition to general solicitation of donations, your student base can help in the following areas:

- Item Creation: Raising money for a school affords you with the opportunity to collect and create fundraising items with emotional significance that will garner huge donations. Your best source for these items is the students themselves. Urge your students to create items that parents will love to bid on. This could be anything from artwork to video recaps from sporting events or school plays.

- Social Network (for high school only): In this day and age, your kids are likely to have a larger social network than their parents. In the same way that you are encouraging parents to share your fundraiser’s link on social media, so too can you encourage the students to do so. The combined reach of parents and students will make a massive impact on your fundraiser, and will almost definitely lead to a tangible increase in proceeds.

5. Don’t Restrict Yourself!

When organizing school fundraisers, most people think that they are restricted by two things: time and physical space.

From a time perspective, fundraiser hosts often limit their fundraising period to the day or night of their actual fundraising event - this could mean that your donors only have a few hours to donate and support your cause! On a similar note, many fundraising hosts restrict their fundraiser, by thinking that their donor base is confined to those attending the physical event. This greatly reduces your potential donor audience size, because parents have a lot on their plate, making hard to find time to attend a fundraising event. Our advice from Tip Number 2 (Going Digital) now becomes more important than ever.

By utilizing mobile and online fundraising platforms, you will be able to maximize your fundraising window AND greatly increase your audience, leading to higher proceeds for your school.

Rather than being restricted to the defined hours of your fundraiser, online fundraising allows you to send a dedicated fundraiser web page to collect donations for days or even weeks before your fundraiser starts. Now you can turn your fundraising day, or night, into a fundraising week or month. Online fundraising also allows you to grow your donor base exponentially. Instead of limiting your audience to the physical confines of your fundraiser venue, your audience can now submit donations/bids from anywhere with internet or mobile access. This has major implications for your fundraiser’s bottom line, giving a massive pool of donors to draw from.  

As a final note, keep in mind that the points above are general tips that will apply to your next school fundraiser. When considering the many school fundraising ideas available to you, try to utilize as many of these tips as possible to ensure that your next campaign is more successful than ever!

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