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.

Thanks,
Greg

The Power of $1

What is the best fundraising product to help your school, club, or sports team raise money?

My name is Greg and I own/run a fundraising company in Idaho. I have helped several groups and sports programs reach their goals. The information I’m about to share is based on my own experiences and what I’ve observed in the industry over the last 8 years. Enjoy!

For years I worked very hard to provide a fundraiser for various group types. Most of my efforts are directed towards helping schools reach their goal. These schools have anywhere from 250-2000 students. Our goal is always the same, raise as much money as we can in a two week period. Sports team fundraisers are similar but we can shorten the time frame by a week and still produce similar results.

Magazines

Don’t cringe when I say the word magazine because that is where most of my time was spent when I entered the industry. Price points averaged $22 per sale and distribution to supporters was a piece of cake. I eventually transitioned my groups away from magazine sales when results continued to decline. Publishers were really good at stealing supporters from our schools with 2-3yr subscription prices that didn’t benefit the school and we could not compete with their prices.

$20 Cookie Dough

The next product we selected was cookie dough. Our sales soared! We knew introducing a food product to the fundraiser would increase our results but WOW! We found that people from all demographics were willing to spend more money on food than non-food items. Our schools loved the increase in money raised but eventually grew tired of the increased workload cookie dough brought. Lucky for us, Cherrydale (AKA Beleive Kids/Kredo Inc) has helped my groups continue to raise money with cookie dough and we’ve drastically reduced the workload. If cookie dough is something you’re thinking of running, make sure it’s backed up by a company that know how to distribute frozen foods or logistics will become a nightmare.

The Power of $1
I eventually added World’s Finest Chocolate to the products our company offers. I was a little hesitant to do so because I feared what would happen when a student/athlete left campus with a case of chocolate and no money turned in. Little did I know how big fundraisers could grow by switching from a $20 cookie dough to a $1 chocolate bar. In every fundraiser where we switched a $20 cookie dough tub with a $1 chocolate we nearly doubled our profit. Why? We noticed more students wanted to participate when we told them the product we’re selling is a $1. If you take 2000 kids and increase participation from 30% to 50% you now have a huge increase in your sale. Not only that but your potential customers are excited to have a lower price point to become a supporter.

The best of $1 World’s Finest Chocolate Bar
1. You will increase fundraiser participation because families can afford the product.
2. Supporter age ranges increase, which increases the number of potential supporters. 5yrs and older can find a dollar
3. Distribution of products happens at the sale, no waiting!

Regardless of where you live, contact me with any questions as there are many reasons you should and should not run a chocolate sale. I’m here to help!

Greg
Idaho Fundraising Inc

Sales vs Donations

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog. This article aims to cover a few objections I have about fundraising and the direction we’re heading. I also share some helpful information about donation fundraisers vs product sales.

Are you one of the parents that would rather give money vs buying a product to help a kid raise money for their school? If so, you’re not alone. I too feel the same way. I believe this happens because we’re overwhelmed with fundraising, not just our schools but every group in town is trying to raise money. This is where donation campaigns have really taken off. I feel like I get donation requests regularly and fewer products are being offered. Do you see this as a good thing?

Donations have been such a big hit that several companies have emerged to take part. Their software works great, the simplicity of gathering donations and record-keeping online has drastically reduced the workload. What’s more alarming though, the percentage of participants is dropping.

As I share this most companies that help schools (K-12) raise money via donation aim to keep 30% of the money collected. For example, when Grandma donates $100, groups typically receive $70. When we look at participation percentages dropping, we have to understand we’re losing the attention of those that opt in to helping. Why? Perhaps we are not including enough incentives to encourage participation but the software companies would fix that if it meant more money. Would you be surprised if I told you it’s based on who donates to the program? Family members make up a majority of those that give and as we mentioned before, we’re overwhelmed with fundraisers. Some families feel bad asking family to help support their school with a donation so they opt out of the participating in the fundraiser.

Sales. As a participant in a fundraiser, there’s a lot to be learned in helping your school raise money. In a way, it’s a selfless act that teaches students a lot about life. How to interact with people enhancing out communication skills, simple math, accounting and if I’m not getting to ahead of myself it teaches them about running a small business. Donation campaigns have made the process so easy that I fear what it might be doing to our kids will have negative long term effects. Lower grades might not be missing out on these details but the older we get the more we’ll need those skills.

As we continue navigating fundraisers and what it takes to help a group make money we’ll be focusing on what makes a fundraiser reach more people. Catalog/products sales have come a long way and now have the ability to ship directly to our supporters. Donations have been on our radar as they continue to gain popularity. They have our attention because we’ve started working on software that collects donations and gives the school 100% of the money donated. If you can hybrid a donation campaign with a product sale you’ll be able to capture sales from family members, family friends and your neighbors.

Stay tuned for more information about our 100% profit donation fundraiser. If you have questions or need help getting your fundraiser off to a healthy start. Don’t hesitate to contact me.

Greg

Fundraiser Incentives and prizes that work

It’s takes money to make money should be the center of your prize program focus. I write this post to help you find creative ways to increase participation without spending all of your fundraising profits on prizes. I do not recommend all the incentives in a fundraiser be free but working towards 3% cost reinvestment is a good target. Plan on spending 3%-10% on your prize program to have a big sale.

Build It Big
We’ve all seen the prize posters that offer prizes up to 150, 200, 250 items sold. We all shake our head thinking, no kid is ever going to reach this level. Chance are you’re probably right. The second year in fundraising I reduced prize levels and saw a drastic drop in avg items sold for the fall. Include big prizes, it creates a wow effect, and you’ll increase the desire kids get when aiming for something big.

What if everyone did
Create a low level prize that requires at least one maybe two sales to win. If we can get 80%-100% of students participate by selling one item in our fundraiser you’ll have a huge sale. Try adding a large prize as a raffle for selling 1 item. I’d also suggest including a cash value that way students who already have the prize will be excited by the money.

You’re Hired
One of the most exciting prizes for an elementary school student is to take over the school or do something silly to the admin. I’ve ran many sales that offer a principal for the day incentive to one lucky student. This student will get to work side by side with the principal for half or a portion of the day. One thing I wanted to create with this prize was a lasting impression so I made a shirt that you could use. Check it out on Amazon. Kids have loved this token of appreciation and it’s a simple prize. If you want more details on how to run this incentive please ask and I’ll share.

No Cost Promotions (Staff/admin)
Dress like…rappers, superheros, pajamas
Shave school initials in hair
Kiss an animal
Principal in jail (build a cell)
Eat Something….Food Smoothie, Hot peppers
Police/Firemen lunch visit (Elementary) Motivates a teachers too 🤭

Helpful tips for Fundraising Online

My name is Greg and I’m a fundraising coordinator. I’ve been helping schools and groups run fundraisers for a long long time. This year is different because most of our programs need to run online and with that there are challenges. I am going to cover some of the basic information to help you get your program off to a healthy start. If you’re falling behind and reaching your goal seems like a distance wish the Bonus Weekend Challenge listed at the bottom of this post.

  1. Too Much Info
    • (Problem) Several fundraisers have started this year with a fizzle. Emails went out to parents, prizes were shared with the kids and the results were less than great. If this happened to your group then how the message came across didn’t work. In many cases we’ve seen fundraising information get crammed into the typical school communication with too much information.
    • (Fix) Start sending messages for fundraisers in their own communication. Example, sending an email to your parents/students should only include a message about your fundraiser. Let the other emails contain calendar information, lost and found, etc. We’ve found this to be helpful in raising more funds during the sale. Tip, don’t write the word Fundraiser in the subject of an email 😎
  2. To: Staff From: Principal
    • (Problem) We asked teachers to play a fundraiser kickoff video in class on our start date. After starting we notice our view counts don’t add up to the number of classes we have. We all know there are some staff members who aren’t team players and absolutely don’t like fundraisers. Their students are going to miss the message if not miss the fundraiser completely and that negatively impacts your sale.
    • (Fix) There’s a couple ways we tackle this. Have your principal email the fundraiser to staff and set the tone. Please have all students clear their desks and watch this 5min or less video. After the video plays please make sure your students get parent letter/catalogs. Incentivize staff too. Offer teachers a prize if they get 50% of the class to participate by either selling or sharing the fundraiser they win something. $25 gift cards = more participation.
  3. Check your followers
    • (Problem) We started our sale and have made several posts about our fundraiser on our social media page. Why aren’t we getting more sales? Not all families operate on social media and with that there’a lot of negative feelings associated with social media. How many people follow your social media page?
    • (Fix) Social media posts work best when a live video is used. This attracts attention because scrolling through a social media feed is only stopped when something stands out. Additionally after the live video is saved it still has live video tied to the message. Just remember to make it short and lively. Under 1 min is best. If you’re main avenue of sharing the fundraiser is social media you’re missing the ability to connect with your families. Email and Robo calls are the best method as these families have opted into school communications. I’d heavily suggest having the principal schedule 2 emails a week about the fundraiser.
  4. Behind but not out
    • (Problem) We’re approaching the last few days of our sale and we’re close to our goal but it’s not looking good. It’s probably best to stick to the dates set on our parent letter and leave the fundraiser as is.
    • (Fix) There’s nothing that stops us from adding an extra weekend to our fundraiser, especially if we’re running a Boonsupply sale. They ship products as orders are entered so our first customers have already received their products and we’re not waiting for a big school delivery. Message all of the families and let them know we’re adding a bonus weekend. Additionally let the kids know how close you are to the goal and tell them you have a surprise. WE’RE ADDING ANOTHER WEEKEND SO YOU CAN EARN MORE PRIZES. Kids that sell 2+ items over the weekend will be entered into a drawing to win prizes. Links to products we used that you can easily add to the additional weekend push.
Amazon Gift CardVisa Gift CardPrincipal for a Day

I hope this information has helped you make some changes to your fundraiser. I have many more tips and tricks I’ll be sharing as this blog is a simple way for me to share all the info I can. If you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask. I’d be happy to answer your questions and help, even if you’re not selling my products 😉

About me

Idaho born and raised

I grew up in Burley Idaho of all places and life was simple. I spent most of my time playing sports and creating memories with my friends. After graduating from high school I attended Boise State University. It wasn’t long after college when I decided to marry my high school sweetheart. Together we live in Boise with 3 little kids and attend church at Faith Community Bible Church. It’s hard to believe what life has become but everyday is a new day and we’re happy to call Idaho our home.