It's that time of year: kids are going back to school - and that means it's time for another year of school fundraising! I bet you are super excited. Right?
Well, okay. Looking at my notes here, I can probably figure out why you aren't jumping up and down with joy over the prospect of doing more school fundraising.
Why Is School Fundraising So Hard?
Why is school fundraising so frustrating some times?
According to our research (which consists in part of personal experience), we've figured out three main reasons:
1. Schools tend to be stuck with the same old donors every year. And who wants to be asked over and over to give money? At a certain point, they get tapped out.
2. People tend to think that they shouldn't have to give to schools. I mean, public schools get funding from the government and private schools get tuition, so everybody is covered. No fundraising needed. (Obviously this isn't true really. But how do we convince donors of that?)
3. Even when they get the need, many donors just don't have the money. This can be especially true at smaller private schools where parents may be doing everything they can just to pay said tuition.
What's the Solution? Let's Discuss in Video Format
While we can't magically make school fundraising easy, we can offer some tips to hopefully help. This video covers 10 of them.
(And P.S., if you don't want to watch a video right now, you can skip ahead. The same tips are listed below.)
10 Tips to Help Overcome Donor Fatigue at Schools
Here are the 10 tips discussed in the video:
- Tell stories about why you need the money. People respond when they feel emotions.
- But still use numbers and statistics. They can help sway anybody on the fence after your story-telling session.
- Be as specific as possible. Tell people what there money is going towards, why that is important, and why you need their help now.
- Show the past results. Because schools often have the same donor pool, this can be especially important. You need people to want to give to you year after year. So work to prove to them that their money is going towards progress and improvements.
- Give them something in return. Whether it is a school dance, a service, or a product, when you give people something in return, they may give to you because they believe in your cause or because they want the thing you are offering.
- Make It Easy. Here is some common sense for you: the easier something is to do, the more likely people are to do it. If I have to be at your gala at 8pm in order to bid on your auction items, then I may decide last minute to skip because I am at home comfy in my pajamas. When there is an easier option (hint, hint, semi-sales pitch here: mobile bidding would be a solution for the above hypothetical problem), take advantage of it!
- Encourage monthly or year-round giving. Maybe asking for $120 all at once is intimidating to some of your donors. However, those same people may be able to give you $10 a month. Either way, you are getting $120 from your donor, so shouldn't you encourage that? Similarly, if I'm strapped every year around your annual fundraiser, then I may not be able to give or may not be able to give as much as I would like. However, if you offer year-round ways to give (giving kiosks, online donation options on your website, etc.), then I may donate when I can afford to do so.
- Show You Listen. Your donors are going to start ignoring you if they think you are ignoring them. So respect what they have to say about your fundraising efforts. Have your donors been asking you to stop raising money for the new football field while the science lab is falling apart? Then maybe switch up what you are raising money for (or better explain why fixing the football field is a high priority). Are they telling you that December, when you have your annual benefit, is a hard month for them financially? Consider moving your date. You get the picture, right? You don't have to blindly follow their suggestions, but genuinely listen to their concerns and somehow address them. Creating donor personas can help with this, by the way.
- Expand Your Reach. If your problem is that you have the same old donors every year, then get creative about ways to expand your reach. Get a team together and brainstorm ways you can target different groups of people and how you can convince them to donate. Maybe you haven't taken enough advantage of local businesses. They can buy ads in yearbooks, signs on fields, sponsor events, and more. Or, they can fund a scholarship, which maybe you can name after them. Perhaps you keep hitting up parents, but haven't been working as hard on asking their extended family. Imagine if you had a letter writing campaign where kids got to right their own letters and mail it to family asking for help supporting their school in XYZ. Perhaps you can ask the community. You may end up getting donations from parents hoping to send their kids to you in the future. (After reading that back, I'm realizing it kind of sounds like I'm saying they may try to bribe you with a donation. That's not what I meant: but maybe they want those school improvements you are trying to achieve done before their kids start.)
- Show Your Appreciation! The last tip on this list is just being better about showing your appreciation. Nobody wants to hear from you only when you are asking them for money. Communicate with them all year-long, and make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
The Final Words
Ok. Now that you've got my awesome tips, I'm going to offer you something else:
A free ebook all about school fundraising!
This thing has 65 different ideas for ways you can try to raise money for your school. And like I said, it's totally free, so enjoy!