United States politicians have repeatedly proven that schools are not their top concern when it comes to providing ample funding. So, when a parent group leader sets their mind on the idea that the local elementary school needs a new play structure, you can bet there most likely won’t be any budget reserved or left over for such a purchase. Many schools are struggling to meet teacher payroll, pay for books and computers and make necessary building repairs, let alone put in a new play structure.
Let’s face it, in order to get that new play structure, parent group leaders often have to resort to fundraising. But not all group leaders are created equal when it comes to raising funds. Many embark on the effort not having any prior experience whatsoever.
If you are one of those people, read on. We have rounded up some of the best tips out there from some of the most talented, experienced and educated sources available.
Go for the Deep Pockets
We’re not talking about individual millionaires here. We’re talking corporations. Many of your local companies have very healthy bottom lines and are looking for ways to invest in their community. All you have to do is ask! Seek out the companies whose owners or managers have children or grandchildren who attend the school you are fundraising for. If there is no such connection, don’t give up. Sell the community factor and don’t be afraid to offer them a plaque of recognition to go with the structure, and better yet, some public relations work with your local news outlets. You will find that companies will be more willing to contribute when they get “positive exposure” out of the deal.
If you think about it, there tends to be certain fundraising activities that get recycled over and over and over. In some cases it’s because they work well but not always. Many times it’s simply because it is familiar and easy to repeat. But as with all things in life, that which is not refreshed will die. Don’t be afraid to rethink, retool and recreate. There is a plethora of great ideas out there. A simple search for “fundraising ideas” on the Web proves that true. Find one that suits your interests as well as your market and go for it. You may just find that your fresh approach mades the difference between mediocre and great success.
Recruit and Delegate
No man or woman is an island, so avoid thinking you are exceptional and can pull the whole thing off by yourself. Find local interested parents. Figure out who your advocates are and get them involved. Approach them with your plan in place and ask them to accept a specific role. Then follow up with them, frequently. If you see they are fizzling, don’t be afraid to offer them “help” by assigning a co-worker for them, or giving them a role they may enjoy more. Keep in mind your goal is to lead the fundraising project, and if you get too caught up in doing all the busy work, you may falter as the leader.
Start Early, Plan Well
You know the idiom: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Your fundraiser isn’t going to put itself together. As the leader of the fundraising project, it is up to you to provide the structure—the organization—of the effort. If organization is not your strong suit, bring someone on board who excels in that field. Once you have a good plan in place you are free to focus on execution of the plan. Be sure, however, to allow yourself enough time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say. Do some backward scheduling after picking a target date to have the money raised and the structure purchased. Backward scheduling will allow you to plan ample time for each step and give you a clear, reasonable start date.
Say “Thank You”
Take every opportunity to tell those who donate how much you appreciate them, especially the larger donators. Get the local media involved, use plaques, send thank-you cards, hold a donations appreciation event after it is all said and done. It’s simple: people are motivated by pats on the back (and by tax breaks).
Go out there and have fun. Sell the dream, know why you are doing what you’re doing and why it matters. And have fun!