Top 10 Tips for Creating School and Community Fundraisers That Don't Suck!

car wash fundraiser photo

Image credit: devinlynnx/Flickr

Do you have the urge to run and hide when you see your child or co-worker approaching with that all too familiar order form? Does your mind automatically turn to visions of stale caramel corn moldering in the office kitchen? Or maybe you shudder at the thought of a giant footprint of the scented candles and wrapping paper sitting on your re-gifting shelf in the hall closet? As a father and the co-founder of school and community fundraising company, A Part of Something Big, I know how you feel. Cringe no more. Spring and early summer are when many schools and organizations make their fundraising plans for the following year. We thought it would be the perfect time to bring TreeHugger readers a top ten guide to making your next school or community fundraiser an event to be proud of!1. Set Your Goals
Set a goal of how much money your group wants to raise and why. People respond far better to tangible goals than numbers. (i.e. If we hit our goal of $10,000, we can build a new wing for the community center.)

2. Think Impact
Select products and companies for your next fundraiser that support larger causes or initiatives, in addition to raising money for your school or community project. Selling chocolate bars to build a new wing for the community center is great. Selling fair trade Divine Chocolate bars that also help to build schools in Ghana is even better! It also provides a simple way to demonstrate how our buying choices impact the world.

3. Avoid Fundraising Fatigue
Research when other groups in your community are holding campaigns. Then set a limit for the number of fundraisers you plan to do this season. You may be able to collaborate on a campaign with another group or avoid bombarding your prospective customers with multiple fundraisers.

4. Make a Connection
Make your fundraiser more than a signup sheet and cash exchange. Inspire and engage prospective customers with information. Include stories about what their purchase will make possible for your project and for the people who make the products. This is an opportunity to engage and connect people to their own community and a bigger cause.

5. Make it Relevant
Think through what campaign approach will work best for your project and community. Is it an online campaign? Do events work best in your community? Or does the door to door/desk to desk approach produce results? Get insights from your friends, neighbors and co-workers and plan accordingly. Also think about which big picture cause will work best. It could be environmental concerns, fair trade projects or microeconomic initiatives. Choose a campaign that will resonate with your community and support your fundraising goals.

6. Get Visual and Virtual
Think "more show and less tell." Great imagery and video links help paint a picture of your fundraising goal and the larger cause you are supporting. Use county, school or organization's website to bring your campaign to life. This will also help cut down on printed materials!

7. Put Your Relationships to Work
Whitney's brother-in-law is the editor of the city paper? Make the request and do it with your head held high. Remember, you are making a positive difference with this campaign in more ways than one.

8. Price and Quality Matter
Be realistic about what your potential customers will want to spend and make sure the products are high-quality at any price. A dozen recycled newsprint pencils at $5 can be both high quality and cost conscious.

9. Be Practical
When selecting your campaign products, ask yourself "Would I use this or would it end up on the re-gifting shelf?"

10. Involve Your Local Educators
One great advantage to creating a fundraising campaign that supports a larger cause, is the opportunity to engage our kids in important stories, people and events worldwide. Encourage your school's faculty to incorporate fair trade, environmental sustainability and poverty relief into their lesson plans.

Richard Averitt and the A Part of Something Big team have sourced more than 260 products all produced by one of 25 charitable and forward-thinking organizations for guilt free fundraising. Check out to find out more.
Read more about fundraisers:
Green Fundraising For Schools With One Big Caveat
Growkids Means Smart Green Fundraising for Schools
Green School Fundraising with Carbon Offsets

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