Do’s and Don’ts of Fundraising
For many parents and booster club members, fundraising is a fact of life. It can be fun, leading to new friends and more professional and personal opportunities. Many times, it also leads to a closer bond between parents and children. However, a few common mistakes tend to pop up in fundraisers, and the following list of do’s and don’ts helps ensure success.
Do: Raise Money Multiple Ways
All too often, a fundraiser consists of a single event or product. That’s it–the only way money is raised. For example, if it’s a car wash to raise money for a football team, the only way money is coming in is from each $15 wash and dry. That is a big mistake because there are so many ways to expand an idea to incorporate multiple avenues. Take the car wash idea. Another way to raise money would be via sponsorships. A local gym could donate $2,000 and have the players give free one-day passes or discounted membership offers to each person who gets their car washed. The gym could help publicize the car wash with a sign for its members, and its donation could also garner it a banner or sign in the football stadium.
Similarly, if the booster club website advertises the car wash, it could also include a link for people to donate directly without needing to have their car washed.
Don’t: Forget Community Involvement
What happens sometimes with high school fundraising is that the target audience is too narrow. In one way, this makes sense. Unless someone has a child or grandchild on the team, why would they want to donate? So, many endeavors focus exclusively on the high school community and involved family members.
However, expanding the scope of a fundraiser to involve the community leads to more funds rolling in. Booster club members, athletic directors, players, coaches and others directly involved should reach out to high-profile community members and even notable former players. If someone who played on the team five years ago is successful in the NFL now, a fundraiser centering around a dinner or autograph session with him could be quite lucrative. No matter the idea, there is always room for community involvement, and that leads to more donations.
Do: Identify Goals and Why There Is a Fundraiser
Unfortunately, too many fundraising efforts are vague. The website might say something like, “Help us raise money for the basketball team!” and that falls flat. There’s no sense of need or urgency in that.
Get specific when identifying and detailing the aims of the fundraiser. Is the gym too dark? Have the seats become too small? Say instead, “We’d like to give our fans a better experience by making the gym brighter and the seating more spacious,” which is more likely to get donations. Those involved in the fundraising effort do not necessarily have to spell out all these reasons on, say, tickets, but they do have to know for themselves and to be able to get sponsors, set goals and measure success.
Don’t: Make the Fundraiser Boring
It’s okay to admit it–a lot of fundraiser ideas are boring, and all too often, that translates into subpar results. Since community involvement is important, it’s good to think about experiences or products the community in general might enjoy. Seasonal themes can be fun: haunted houses near Halloween, a polar plunge or gingerbread house contest in winter or a romantic getaway giveaway near Valentine’s Day, for example.
Of course, there is nothing wrong per se with selling candy or holding car washes. Lots of people enjoy candy and have dirty cars. However, if there have been a lot of candy sales or car washes this year already, another approach may be more successful.
Do: Involve Parents
One reason that selling candy is popular is that parents can easily get involved. However, there is room for parental involvement in any fundraiser. Parents can sell products or services, design a website, reach out to community leaders or businesses, volunteer time in setting up an event or buy yard signs to advertise the fundraising event.
Of course, it can seem like most of the parents on a team aren’t interested. One thing to check is whether they even know a fundraiser is happening. Perhaps their child forgot to give them a letter, for example, and communications should explain why the fundraiser is important. How will it help them and their child? It is also critical to be proactive and give parents opportunities to participate. Don’t make them have to reach out and ask.
All that said, one of the best ways to get parents involved is to involve their children. The players on the team should, if possible, play a big role in all fundraising efforts.
Don’t: Treat Everyone the Same
When booster clubs and fundraising committee members reach out to parents, people in the community and other folks, what happens sometimes is that they’re all treated the same. All potential sponsors get the same exact email, and it isn’t addressed to anyone in particular. While it takes time to research sponsors and good people to contact, it’s time that pays off. An email that begins, “Dear Robert,” is better than one that says, “Hello” or “Dear ABC Grocery Store.” Do the research on each potential sponsor and explain their options for helping and what’s in it for them.
Do: Thank Everyone
Fundraisers are not isolated events. How this one goes can affect the willingness of parents, community members and sponsors to participate in the next one. So, it is good practice to thank everyone involved for their donations, time and/or effort. They have made a huge difference.