You don't have to sell expensive apparel or game-time candy bars to create buzz around your fall fundraiser. While these might be traditional crowd-pleasers, there’s an easier way to run simpler, more effective, and more evergreen fundraisers this fall.
This is where a community discount card fundraiser comes into play: you can rally local businesses to offer discounts via a discount card program, which gives them more sales, gives your donors a good deal on local meals and products and gives you funds without any difficult logistics.
For an even smoother fall fundraiser, use these quick tips to maximize your results and create a positive experience.
Get Buy-In From the School Early
The fall season is usually the best time for many schools, sports programs, and extracurricular groups and organizations to host their fundraiser. Everyone is excited about the new season or school year. As games begin, it's the perfect opportunity to raise funds from parents, donors, and community members.
While all of that activity is great for your fundraiser, it's not great for taking the first steps for your fundraiser. Your school's principal, administrators, and PTA boards are likely to be busy, too, and that means delays in getting your fundraiser approved. Before you can get started with your discount card fundraiser, you need to:
- Get approval from your department head or district administration (especially if you have to meet strict approval standards for vendors and products)
- Reach out to volunteers — both staff and PTA members are a valuable resource for managing fundraiser logistics and organizing students
- Ensure you aren't competing with other programs at the same time, especially with the same fundraising idea
You may also need to clear the fundraiser in conjunction with your budget. Make it clear to your administration what you need funds for, how you plan on allocating the funds, and why it's important. This is your opportunity to explain the costs of your programs and their value to the community. The best time to get buy-in is during the previous school year: send out emails and get confirmation before everyone heads out for summer vacation.
The sooner you get approval, the sooner you can start reaching out to businesses and sponsors. Getting in the door early can help you be the first one to reach out to popular vendors and community hotspots.
Work With Sponsors That People Like
While you may have parents and community members who buy your discount cards for the sake of your program, better sponsors drive better results. Reach out to local businesses that are popular with your students and their families to see the best results. Popular options include:
- Restaurant franchises: Chain restaurants often have a budget for networking and sponsoring local organizations as part of their marketing efforts. Speak to owners who have locations near your school, near your sports field or local event center, and other popular spots in town.
- Local businesses that frequently sell to students and teachers: Office supplies stores, t-shirt printers, and sporting goods or uniform stores are an excellent choice. Both the stores (your sponsors) and your target audience (parents and donors) know that they're likely to be doing business together throughout the school year.
- Small and local businesses: Every town has its small businesses that have been community favorites for years. Furniture stores, plumbers, landscapers, bakeries... These may not be big favorites among your students, but they're the lynchpin of fundraisers. They're likely to help sponsor your events for the occasional big-ticket deal or just to keep their business name in front of their own target markets (parents and working professionals).
As you build your discount card program over the years, you can trade out sponsors for even better options that align more with your donors or become more involved with your programs. Many local businesses will be happy to sponsor your event, especially if they're offering discounts rather than putting any money forward themselves.
Of course, as you build relationships with businesses in the community, you can ask for direct monetary donations, donations in the form of supplies, food, or space, and permission for your students and volunteers to sell discount cards at the store.
Involve Parent Groups to Increase Your Sales
Every fundraiser relies on participation. Whether your student participants can drive or not, their parents' involvement often plays a substantial role in how much you can rely on your students. Getting parents on board is also helpful because they can reach out to their own friend groups and professional network rather than just facilitating drop-offs and student transportation. Reach out to:
- Your school's PTA: When your PTA knows about and supports your fundraiser, you can see a lot more sales and momentum. Members may also have contacts for sponsors or run a business themselves.
- Booster clubs: If your department or program is big enough, make it a priority to grow and maintain a booster club. This group of parents and community members will care about your program specifically, not the school overall. Their support can help you cut through the noise of louder, bigger programs.
Involving your parent groups can help with every stage of the fundraising process, including:
- Rallying volunteers and participants, especially if you need to cover booths and time slots at school events
- Spreading the word through word-of-mouth marketing, creating and distributing flyers, social media posts, and more
- Advocating for your program to school and district admin
Parents and community members can take advantage of social sharing capabilities to spread your fundraiser to the masses! This is especially valuable if you have mobile fundraising where donors can buy cards and make donations online.
Set a Goal for Every Student
Ultimately, your program participants and students will need to sell discount cards for the best results. Whether they focus on friend and family groups, go door to door, or sign up for time slots at games and events, they'll need to be involved. Setting individual goals for your students can help drum up interest, make things a little competitive, and keep everyone focused.
Some different approaches for setting goals could be:
- Requiring everyone to sign up for a minimum number of time slots at fundraising events
- Setting flexible weekly goals that are reasonable and won't discourage students
- Getting students to set their own goals
- Creating a leaderboard that celebrates top performers
To really engage your students, create prizes for participants that sell the most through your discount card fundraiser. These prizes can include small gift cards, different privileges during class or after school, and having their name publicly displayed. The goal here is to keep students engaged and eager to participate — without disrupting your program.
Don't Do It Alone
All of these tips are designed to help you have the right resources and support as you implement your fundraiser. We're also here to help you manage your fundraiser behind the scenes.
At Launch Fundraising, we've built an online fundraiser platform that helps you track marketing, sales, communications, top performers and participants, and everything in between. Check out our software today to see how it can help simplify your fall fundraiser so you stay on top of your game.