There are literally hundreds of fundraising products and businesses on the market – all with unique ways of helping you to raise money for your school or club. With so much choice, it can be overwhelming. Here are some questions to focus your search for the right product for your next fundraiser.
The specific reason you are fundraising might impact on the product you choose – are you raising money for an ongoing project (new playground, air conditioning, new computers) or will the money be going to fund school events such as graduation dinners, camps or movie nights?
Are you trying to raise awareness about something? Is there an obvious product you can fundraise with that will help promote the overall campaign (ie selling recipe books to raise money for a new canteen or selling engraved bricks for a new assembly hall).
(By the same token, you don’t want to be selling chocolate frogs or cakes if you’re raising money for diabetes or selling junk food if you’re fundraising for a kitchen garden).
Do you want any additional benefits from the fundraising event such as physical activity, parent/child interaction or literacy skills? Or are you primarily interested in maximising profit? (Click here for fundraisers with additional benefits).
Some fundraising products have minimum quantities you need to order and others have scale of economy – the more you buy the cheaper they get (and the bigger your profit). Therefore the size of the group fundraising will make a big difference to the type of product you choose.
How many children in your school/group? Will this be a whole school event or just for a single class or year group? Will it be compulsory or optional?
Are you targeting children or parents as the potential ‘purchasers’ of the items?
Does the product appeal to the wider community? Can you sell them via social media or at a public event? Would you be able to sell the products at a stall at a community/farmers market?
Some fundraisers require only one or two people to coordinate, others may require a whole team. Distribution is usually the biggest logistical challenge – how will you get products to the people who bought them?
How many people will you need to coordinate the fundraiser?
How many people will need to distribute items (if applicable)?
Will individual students be selling products privately (such as door knocking family and friends) or will there be a centralised point of sale such as a website or market stall?
Are you just doing this fundraiser because you’ve done it before?
Track your profits from selling this product over the past few years – has it gone up or down? If your sales are steadily decreasing then perhaps it’s time to try something new.
If you think you have something new and exciting, ask parents and staff who have been at the school for a long time if the product has been sold in the past. What was the reaction? Was it a success?
Is there a comparable product from an alternative company that might offer a better deal for your group?
Sometime even the best fundraising product can be derailed by bad timing, so think about the implications of when you’re selling your product on the success of your fundraiser.
Does your product require refrigeration or special storage?
Is there a natural event (such as Christmas or Mothers’ Day) before which you could hold your fundraiser to boost sales?
Does the timing of your fundraiser clash with other major events at your school, club or community?
Also check to make sure other local schools/clubs aren’t holding the same fundraising drive at the same time.
The best fundraising product is something lots of people need lots of the time. Think rationally about your target market and what proportion of them will want to buy the product.
Does your product have mass appeal or is it more likely to appeal to a niche group?
Is it unusual or different from you could get in the shops? If not, is it cheaper? If not – why are you selling it?
Is it the sort of item people buy because they feel obliged, or something they genuinely want (if you don’t know – ask around, people will be very honest with you).
Is it consumable? Will people need to buy more next year?
Will it melt, spoil, go out of date? Can unsold stock sit safely on the shelf for 12 months?
If it is a keepsake item, is it good quality and practical? Is it likely people will want to buy another in a year or two?
Is it from a reliable (preferably Australian owned) company?
Is it safe? Is there any potential for allergies or injuries?
Does the company send product samples?
When choosing a fundraising product you also need to look at the process involved – if there are too many steps involved, will you be losing customers?
Do you need to book your fundraiser in advance?
Do you need to pay upfront to purchase items?
Are there minimum orders?
Is the fundraiser entirely online or are there physical products to sell? Does ‘helping’ with the fundraiser just involve sharing a weblink with family/friends and asking them to purchase, or does it involve selling physical products?
Do you need training to sell the product or use the sales software (if applicable)?
Does the business supply paper order forms and flyers as well as electronic?
Will it require class time, such as time to draw pictures/write stories etc that then get made into the customised product? Are teachers on board with the fundraiser? Will they need training/information on how it works?
Are there dedicated customer support people at the fundraising company to answer calls/emails and assist you with questions?
If you need to pre-order a certain quantity, will they accept unsold stock after your fundraiser is over?
What are the timeframes associated with receiving items once ordered? Is stock always available or made to order? How many weeks will it take to design/create personalised items?
Do customers pay the business directly or do you need to collect cash/payment and then forward on?
Do customers receive their orders individually (ie posted to their house) or do you need to distribute from a central point?
Is there an incentive program to encourage kids/families to sell more of the item? Does this fit with your school values? Is it eating up too much of your profits or do you think it is necessary motivation to get kids involved?
How long does it take for the business to pay your earnings?
Ultimately, profit should be the primary consideration when choosing a product. Unless you are specifically choosing a fundraising product because it offers other benefits (such as keepsake, health benefits, community benefits etc) you need to keep an eye on a) how much profit you make per sale and b) how many sales you can expect for your community. Basically, how hard will you need to work to make a profit?
What is the profit margin per item?
Can you choose your own sale price?
What is the average number of items you would expect a single person to sell on average? (for example a person might sell 10 chocolate bars on average but only 2 tea towels and 0.5 voucher books).
How much money are you needing to raise? Will selling this product realistically help you earn the required amount?
Does the company offer any discounts or incentives for booking before a certain date or holding multiple fundraising drives?
Are there any extra fees that might bite into your profit such as delivery costs or surcharges?