It is common for commercial fundraising businesses to include incentive prizes as part of their package. The more product kids sell or the money they raise, the bigger and better the prize will be. Some may argue that when fundraising for a school or club, with no immediate and personal benefit, incentives prizes are a useful way to motivate kids to get involved.
However, sometimes the cost of these prizes can absorb 20%, 30% or even more of the money raised by the school or club, prompting some groups to demand an alternative.
This article outlines some cheaper, DIY ideas for incentive prizes, ensuring as much money as possible goes back to the school/club, and would be suitable a range of fundraisers including fun runs, readathons, colour runs and selling products.
How much should you spend on incentive prizes?
Obviously as little as possible is the preferred answer, but setting aside 10% of the funds raised seems to be a suitable starting point. Your group or school may need more or less depending on the level of motivation and community spirit, and whether you have been able to access external sponsorship from local businesses.
Three DIY incentive options
There are three primary ways to approach incentive prizes for students:
Option 1: every child is eligible for a prize depending on how much money they raise (ie the more they raise the better the prize)
Option 2: a raffle system where the children earn a raffle ticket for each $5, $10 or $20 they raise. The more money raised, the more raffle tickets they have earned and the greater chance they have of winning.
Option 3: the class system where prizes are awarded to the class(es) which raise the most money or sell the most products. This creates a sense of friendly competition much like the Aussie Penny Wars.
Option 1: Incentive prizes for all
Above is a great example of an incentive prize sheet from a fun run held at Kimberley Park State School in Queensland clearly showing the different level of prizes on offer. Some of these prizes were sourced from a toy wholesaler while the larger ones were purchased using credit from the Rebel Sport Community Kickback program.
The first level required sponsorship of between $10 and $29 and offered a choice of four prizes including a slap band, a hand ball, putty or gel pen and notebook. By the time a student had raised between $100-$199 the prizes included a totem tennis set, a Wahu Beach Bash set, aqua air hocky or beach cricket set. The cost of the prizes overall was no more than 10% of the money raised.
To maximise profits for the school, ordering prizes should only be done after the event is complete and the money collected. Only then should students select their preferred prize, and orders made. The downside to this method is that there is a delay between the event and the students receiving their prizes, but by promoting them in advance like this, should spur sufficient interest and motivation prior to the event.
When you select your prizes for each category, ensure you have items that appeal to both boys and girls, and make each prize category more valuable and exciting than the previous.
Where to purchase incentive prizes
As well as local discount chains (Red Dot, Reject Shop etc) and large department stores such as Kmart (which has a huge range of gifts in the $1-$10 range) prizes can be purchased from wholesalers. Don’t forget the option of using canteen treats (icypoles or muffins) as incentive prizes.
Incentive prizes could include: slap bands and keyrings, pens and erasers, slime and putty, balls and frisbees, drink bottles and bath fizzers, board games and sports equipment, playing cards and puzzles, caps and socks, vouchers and giftcards, seed kits and craft kits. Be creative and realistic – remember some of these prizes will be coming home with your kids – don’t buy prizes that will just annoy everyone.
Fundraising Mums attempted to contact all the toy wholesalers across Australia, and those who replied and are available to sell to schools and P&Cs are listed below:
Provides a huge range of cheaper novelties (slime, slap bands, squishies, sticker books, modelling clay, kaleidoscopes, arts and crafts and more).
Based in Tempe, NSW
No minimum order
Provides a huge range of cheaper novelties (lanyards and keychains, bubbles, slime and squishies, stationery and glow products, wooden toys and sensory toys and more).
Based in Loganholme, Qld
Minimum order $200 (ex GST/delivery)
Provides larger, quality toys including musical, arts and crafts and pretend play.
Based in Point Cook, Vic
Minimum order $500 (ex GST/delivery)
Has small items starting at 20c plus larger, quality wooden and educational toys, musical toys.
Based in Mentone, Vic
Minimum order $300 (ex GST/delivery)
Option 2: The Raffle System
This system works like a normal raffle – the more raffle tickets you have, the greater your chance of winning. For arguments sake, kids receive a raffle ticket for every $5 (or $10 or $20) they raise. Then you can hold a public draw at assembly, with the prizes on display. It’s probably a good idea to have a valuable prize (or multiple prizes) if you are using the raffle system, and if you’re paying for them with the funds raised, the prize pool should be worth approx. 10% of money raised.
Ie. If you expect to raise $2,000 then consider spending around $200 on prizes – such as one $100 prize and two $50 prizes or 4 x $50 prizes or even 8 x $25 prizes.
This method is also great if you have prizes being donated by local businesses – as they may be more likely to donate a single more valuable prize such as a skateboard, giftcard or signed merchandise. Learn how to find sponsorship and donations here.
If you don’t want to spend any money at all on prizes, check out my article on ‘Incentives to Get Kids Involved’ for a range of free (or cheap) prizes that kids will be thrilled to win.
Option 3: The Class System
This last method removes individual rewards and incentives and instead has classes working together for a reward. A tally is kept of how much each class fundraises during the special event, and the class who earns the most (or the top two or three depending on how many prizes you have) wins the prize as a group.
Suitable prizes for class groups include:
– a pizza party
– movie and popcorn party
– getting to choose a theme for free dress day or disco (and free tickets)
– extra-long recess for a week
– a special ‘Master Class’ (cooking, sport, music, art) conducted by one of the teachers or a parent
– a special excursion to the local pool/park/beach etc
– an icecream ‘sundae’ bar
– special cushions to sit on at assembly for a whole term
– a lunch prepared (and served) by the Principal
– a visit by the Mr Whippy van