Schools fundraise for one reason only – to earn money, lots of money preferably. While there may be lots of additional benefits such as community building and raising awareness, schools can always do this without the fundraising component, and without as many headaches.
So it is easy to say that when fundraising, the goal is to make sure that as much money goes to the school as possible. This is often used as an argument against fundraising products, where at least some of the money raised (often more than half) is directed back to private businesses. Why work hard selling products to earn someone else money when that cash could be going to the school? It’s a compelling argument.
While I certainly don’t think they should form the entirety of your fundraising program, there are a number of reasons why fundraising products are actually a really good option for your school*
They can be organised by a small team of volunteers with minimal effort
One advantage of fundraising with products is that while you need lots of salespeople (ie kids and families) to sell the products, organising the drive is usually straightforward and can be managed by a small team. Where you have low volunteer numbers or the majority of your committee is preoccupied with a larger event, a product drive could easily operate alongside with only one or two people overseeing it.
Companies are professional and usually provide a level of marketing and service as well as incentives
At least half the money (sometimes up to 85%) from sales will eventually be sent back to the company to cover their costs and margin. But as well as the products themselves, your fee usually includes a wealth of material and services that make the fundraising process as easy – and successful – as possible. After all, it is in the company’s best interest for you to maximise sales.
Many fundraising companies will provide marketing materials including posters and brochures, they offer templates for school newsletters, communication with parents, media releases and more. Many provide software or access or to secure sites where you can do the ordering and payments online, so students never need to worry about handling cash. Some companies also provide incentives (prizes) to encourage sales. Almost every aspect of the process will have been considered and managed, minimising the time and effort required from you to run the fundraiser.
Many fundraising companies support good causes
While all fundraising product companies are businesses and seek to make their own profits, many have underlying causes they wish to support and respectable motivations for what they do. Some seek to raise awareness, others send a portion of their own profits to charities. Some are inspired by helping kids with their health and fitness and learning.
The variety and range is enormous
From poker to pencils to plastic wrap, stuffed toys to electronics, clothing to discounts – there is almost nothing you won’t find as a fundraising product. The variety of products means you can try something new every year, and the number of companies producing them mean you can find the business that works best for you (with the best profits). If you (and your school) are sick of the same fundraisers every year, there are plenty of options to try something new.
You can sell to a wider community
Because there are so many options, you will find many of them have wide-appeal, meaning that you extend your sales well beyond the school community. The share-house down the end of the street full of uni students may have no interest in buying calendars decorated by five year olds, but they may be very happy to buy from a wine drive or raffle tickets for an exotic holiday.
You are supporting Australian small business
Many people start their fundraising businesses because they have already been in the position of being a school parent being asked to raise money. Perhaps they remembered how much fun they had or how difficult it was, and they have their own business or product they want to share.
Naturally not all fundraising companies are small nor Australian owned, but it doesn’t take much to check out the ‘about’ pages of a website and find out who is running the business and what their story is.
The school can come to depend on them
It may happen that the community begins to look forward to a particular product fundraiser, and it becomes entrenched in the culture of the school. Running the same fundraiser at the same time every year such as for voucher books, labels or school supplies, Christmas cards or gifts for Mothers/Fathers Day means that your community do not need to source these things elsewhere – they can rely on the school or group for providing the product year after year.
They often require no upfront payment and are risk-free
Many product fundraisers provide a period of credit where the fundraising group is not required to pay for the goods until after the event has run, meaning the costs can be paid out of the money received, and the P&C/P&T do not need to pay upfront. This reduces the risk associated with the fundraiser – it is also worthwhile checking out returns policy and if you are able to order extra products partway through if it is very successful.
*This post is not sponsored by anyone, it is my own genuine belief as a school mum and member of the P&C for five or so years.