How to build a killer prize program for school fundraisers

Thank you for tuning in to my rants about fundraising. If you’re here searching for fundraising tips and guidance then you’re at the right place. I’m going to share with you the best way to build prize programs. Most are specific to school-wide sales but each can be tweaked to fit your needs. Let’s begin.

Participation percentages
Our goal should always be increase participation to increase your results. If we only have a few participants helping then those participants need to help raise a lot of money for the sale to be successful. If we can increase out participation rates to 50% or more this is where we see big results. How do we increase fundraiser participation? Prizes!

Incentivizing the action
When we kickoff a fundraiser our focus is getting the kids to let their family and friends know it has started. Social media can only do so much on it’s own so we rely on emails, texts and in-person conversations. incentivizing the action will help increase your results. Simply get kids to start talking about the fundraiser and soon even the 8th graders will start selling stuff. Most of these prizes are low to no cost promotions.

High price, low level
I’ve debated with other fundraising coordinators in my industry what level we should start placing prizes for students that participate. In my experience adding a prize at level 1 or one item sold encourages students to do their part. This prize can be super simple. With that comes an opportunity to win a bigger prize. This is something you normally wouldn’t put at a low level because it’s cost is too high to give every participant one. Instead use this opportunity and prize as a raffle. You can really get this to take off if you implement a quick start award. More on that later.

Make them beg
Take a look at your last prize program and tell me if anything on there is easily duplicated outside of the school. If so, you’re losing participants! If mom or dad can easily duplicate the prize outside of your fundraiser then the your students will stop begging to participate because they’ll get the prize. Example, Sell 2 items and get a popsocket. If the student is begging to participate because that’s the prize they want, parents will just buy the item and call it done. You can customize prizes but be careful, having leftovers is a bad thing if you have no way of getting rid of them. Instead try implementing an event at school. Those are nearly impossible to duplicate. Food smoothie is a fun event I’d defaulted to and kids absolutely love it.

3 Prize categories
No doubt my own kids are different in many ways. They are completely predictable in many ways too. Over the years kids have loved prize that fall into three categories. Food, Status and Money. Anything with sugar is a win, that’s why our World’s Finest Chocolate and Otis Spunkmeyer Cookie dough sells so well. Status does well when it’s recognized. Top seller, principal for a day or class leader will inspire some of the quiet kids to stand out in a way they never have. Money, we all like money and we seem to not have enough of it. Money towards a students account is not as fun as giving away cash. Focus on actually handing a student money and make sure you do it where other students can see it. If it’s a large amount of money, after sharing it in front of the school, tell the student you’ll send it with their parents. This will help you avoid any problems when the end of day bell rings.

I hope this helps. There are many more tips and tricks to share. I can only share from my experiences and what others in my industry have shared with me. If you’d like to find out more about the things I use to motivate students and increase participation please contact me or join my mailing list.


Leave a Reply