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5 Tips to Boost Your School Fundraising

It’s that time of year again. As the new school year gets underway, we inevitably start getting knocks at the door from wide-eyed grade-schoolers-turned-salespeople sent out to raise money for their school. Maybe it’s your neighbor’s 15 year-old son raising money for his football team or your 13 year-old niece raising money for her class trip, but the drill is the same: They smile politely and hand you a magazine-style catalog along with an order form. You scan the order sheet to get an idea of what others are spending, because you don’t want to look cheap. Then you flip though the catalog to decide which items you dislike least. Your choices typically include wrapping paper, candy, magazines, and various lotions.

There is nothing wrong with the catalog approach, but the people that buy are generally doing so because they want to help the child and/or the school, not because they actually want anything in the catalog. The customers are typically the caring relatives and supportive neighbors, but mostly the parents. It’s essentially no different than collecting donations (like for a 5k run or a bowl-a-thon). But if you want to use products to raise money, selling one or two distinctive products that people actually want to buy can be more effective than selling fifty that people don’t. Here are some tips on how to choose and sell the right items:

1. Make it Your Own

When you imprint a product with your school or team logo, it instantly becomes much more valuable than a generic retail item. It is then a unique product that is only offered by you. It also becomes a promotional tool for your school, team, or club — so choose items that people will use regularly (and publicly). One of the most popular items for team fundraisers that we sell through our CozyCoverz.com store is our sweatshirt blanket with the school’s logo or mascot — great for outdoor sporting events. Once the first few are sold, other people start seeing them and it creates a buzz. Stadium cushions, umbrellas, and stainless steel sport bottles are also popular. To add even more value, imprint additional useful information on your items such as a game schedule, pool safety tips, or whatever makes sense for your promotion. Virtually anything can be customized with your logo or message.

2. Do Your Homework

Students study and do research to prepare their assignments (theoretically), and a promotional fundraising program should be no different. A pre-made catalog relieves you of having to decide what to sell, but if you take a little time to choose a product that you can create a demand for, you will be surprised with the results. Think about items that not only will complement your program, but also will be useful in your community. For instance, if you are raising money for your Hockey Team, you might sell knit hats and scarves with your team logo — people will wear them at games and around town. Come up with a few possibilities and test market them. Get some opinions from potential customers on which items excite them and if your pricing is right for them. Want some help with ideas? Ask us!

3. Keep it Limited

Having specific start and end dates for your fundraiser creates a sense of urgency and motivates people to act. Typically, 2-3 weeks is plenty of time. Once people have received and begun using the items they purchased, it will likely create additional interest. So, you can offer a second release if there is enough demand. To add even more exclusivity to the product, coordinate your fundraiser with a specific event or occasion (ex: Class of 2011 keychains or Division Championship watches).

4. Go Where People Are

Scouting the neighborhood (safely) and hitting up relatives at family functions is fine, but students will likely get better results if they go where there is heavier traffic. Certainly set up a table at school games and events, but also try the mall (get permission) or other local shopping or recreational areas.

5. Promote in Advance

You can start selling your fundraising products even before you have them in your hands. You can create a flyer to hand out as well as email. You can get an image of what the product will look like with your logo — at Embellishable, we create “virtual samples” for customers all the time. We have also set up web pages for schools to collect orders and even accept payments. Accepting pre-orders allows you to place a larger initial order and save some money, since quantity affects pricing for custom products.

Hopefully some of these tips will help make your fundraising this year more profitable and memorable!


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