Updated July 2019
Passive fundraisers are those you can set and forget, and which operate continually in the background. Apart from the initial effort of organising the program, and some regular reminders, they can bring in a steady stream of income throughout the year.
Although they might not have the same earning potential as a single, highly organised event, set-and-forget fundraisers steadily tick along in the background, costing nothing and requiring minimal effort. Over time, these set-and-forget fundraisers can bring in an impressive – and very easy – contribution to your fundraising coffers.
Scholastic Book Club
Scholastic has been around for over fifty years, offering a range of books and other materials to schools and day-cares across the country. As a passive fundraiser it requires only one person to set up the online ordering system, and then distribute catalogues and books once a term, while the new online ordering system makes it easier than ever for parents to order and pay for books. No more struggles with envelopes full of coins and notes.
Scholastic offer 20% of sales back to the school as credit to purchase books and resources as part of the Scholastic Rewards program. In 2018, Scholastic distributed over $10million worth of educator resources to schools across Australia and New Zealand. It is easy to make a few hundred dollars worth of rewards every term, which translates into more resources for your school.
Passive fundraising with personalised name labels
There are a number of label companies such as Bright Star Kids, Stuck on You and That’s Mine which offer simple programs where registered schools are offered an online code, allowing 20-30% of sales to be credited to a fundraising account. Families can order labels for books, shoes and clothes online, with everything organised and distributed by the companies. Labels are one of those things required almost every year, and with a dedicated reminder campaign towards the end of each school year, a steamy stream of income is possible. Do your research and be sure to sign up with a company that offers good sales throughout the year, and put reminders in your newsletter when you are notified of upcoming sales.
Play for Purpose
Play for Purpose is an online raffle that allows sporting clubs and charities across Australia (with the exception of NT/WA) to keep half the money raised by selling tickets to supporters. At least four raffles are run every year with the major prize being worth $250,000 and odd of 1 in 34 of winning a prize. It is free to be involved and can be very profitable. Learn more about Play for Purpose here.
Passive fundraising with cashback fundraising
Cashback fundraisers are groups of online shops which donate a proportion of your purchase price to your favourite charity. They include Shopnate, Gifts4Good, YourChange, School Buy and Shop It Forward. The range of online shops are enormous and include everything from Woolworths and Amazon, eBay and Dan Murphys, David Jones and Apple. There are a number of cashback sites all of which offer slightly different deals with different online stores (read my article here). If you have a community which does a lot of online shopping (even a week grocery shop), it is worth researching cashback fundraising as an option for your school or club.
Passive fundraising with IGA Community Chest
IGA (the Independent Grocers of Australia) support local beneficiaries by donating a percentage of sales of their IGA branded products back to local groups (up to 20 cents per product sold).
You must apply to your local store to become a beneficiary and provide a submission based on what type of group you are (anything from a local school, play group, sports club or other charitable organisation) and what you will use the money for. To date, the IGA Community Chest has provided over $86 million to groups across Australia.
If you are selected to be a Community Chest beneficiary, then it is a matter of advertising the fact to your group and local community and encouraging them buy IGA branded products.
Some stores have their own loyalty programs where a percentage of all purchases are refunded to either the shopper as a cash back or to a nominated charity of your choice. Simply ask at your local IGA if they have this program. The store will provide a card to shoppers which, when shown every time they shop, will allow any points accrued to be directly credited to the community group. Apart from reminding your school or group that they should shop at their local IGA, there is no more work involved, and money raised will be directly sent to you throughout the year.
Click here to find out more about IGA Community Chest.
Sell newsletter real estate
Not all passive fundraising needs be done via external companies, you can set up your own program selling ‘real estate’ in your school or club newsletters to local businesses. By selling advertising space in 2 or 4 term chunks of time, it is an easy way of earning a few hundred dollars with little work. Learn more here.
Passive fundraising with Bubbler Deals
Set up by a Perth mum in 2012, Bubbler Deals is a national coupon site that not only provides great discounts and deals for families across Australia, but they will also donate 5% of the voucher value back to nominated primary schools and playgroups. There are hundreds of beneficiaries across Australia, with thousands of dollars in donations already paid out including $11,000 to Playgroup WA.
Every time a deal is purchased, the customer can nominate which school they wish the donation to be paid to. Deals are advertised weekly and include everything from kids movie and popcorn deals, massage sessions for mum, saving off back-to-school books and more.
Click here to find out more about passive fundraising with Bubbler Deals and how to nominate your school as a beneficiary and click here for more information about the story of how Bubbler Deals began.
Affiliate marketing is like cashback fundraising except that you retain 100% of the cashback (and do 100% of the work). If you have a school/club website or newsletter and a ‘digital’ community, you can create links to businesses that record purchases and send cash rewards back to your nominated school. It takes a bit to set up, but under the right circumstances, can be a successful fundraiser that ticks along in the background. Learn more about affiliate marketing here.
The key to successful passive fundraisers is keeping them at the forefront of families minds. If people don’t use the programs, then the school can’t make any money.
Take advantage of the range of promotional material and sample packs that companies send to you. If you have a school Facebook page, link it to your passive fundraising partner to ensure that your community is kept up to date with sales and promotions.
New families to the school need to be told about the program, and old families need to be constantly reminded.
Create a flyer with all the details about passive fundraisers including links, web addresses, images and passwords and provide them to families at the beginning of every school year (or term).
Create a dedicated page on your school website for families to visit, and include brief mentions (and links) in your school newsletter.
Please note that fundraising with toy catalogues has now been removed from this article after the last remaining business, Parent Direct, announced it would be closing its school fundraising business on June 30, 2019.
Related Article: Top 5 Passive Fundraising Ideas for Sporting Clubs and Schools