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School Fundraiser Checklist --
Don't Forget These Essentials

By Jennifer Lawton

Are you planning a school fundraiser? Many schools have at least one or two "big" fundraisers every year to help support their school, if not other special fundraisers for activities or special projects. There are so many different fundraisers you can choose from -- from doing a school fair to selling a product to holding a dinner dance. But with every fundraiser it comes down to the basics: getting everyone organized and ready for success. Here is a simple checklist to help strategize your school fundraiser to be simply terrific!

1. Plan early and plan ahead

When you give yourself (and your school) additional time to work on your project, you are helping to encourage more volunteers to come forward, time to find more sponsors, time for more creative thinking and just more time to find any challenges that may exist in your school fundraiser. Finding event sponsors will help you save money, but sometimes this takes extra time. Event sponsors also tend to step forward when they see that an event is popular in the community. So that extra time could mean more event sponsors for you.

The ideal time to start planning next year's fundraiser is literally the week after the event is over.  That might be tough, but at least hold a brainstorming meeting to talk about what worked and what didn't so you can overcome those challenges for next year.  Write down everything and type up your notes and recommendations for the next chairperson.  They will thank you for it!

2. Go with what's popular

Fundraising is essentially a team sport, not an individual one. It is important that you look for fundraising ideas that everyone is going to get excited about and want to jump on the bandwagon. This is not to say that a unique idea isn't welcomed -- sometimes a unique idea is just what the doctor ordered! But listen to parents, teachers, the principal and encourage your committee and others in your school to voice their opinions about fundraising ideas. People in your community will want to support your school, give them a terrific fundraiser that helps to raise the energy high and gets people excited.

3. Develop your winning team

You can't go this alone for successful results. To fundraise for your school, a team of volunteers is needed to form a committee for your event or fundraising project. Invite your Board Members or School Staff to join in on the project. Be sure to ask everyone, not just the "usual suspects". Some fresh voices and new energy could be just what your fundraising project or event needs to go over the top and raise more than you ever expected.

4. Motivate every volunteer

Your volunteers should feel positive, enthusiastic and energized about their role in the fundraiser for the school. Every volunteer is needed and appreciated and should be thanked for their service on a regular basis. Encourage volunteers to come forward to do tasks they want to do for the fundraiser and motivate them to take-charge of what interests them and needs to be done.

Don't micro-manage your volunteers, but offer them positive leadership that they know is available as a resource for the project. Place volunteer leaders in those positions that have excellent communication skills, as a volunteer who can communicate with everyone will most likely help to keep a team motivated. A motivated team succeeds.

5. Pay attention to the numbers

Sometimes when doing a school fundraiser, a group can wind up with a seeing the "forest but not the trees" mentality. Your budget is crucial, what you can afford to spend on the fundraiser and what you need to raise. The budget needs to be in full focus at all times. The primary reason to do the fundraiser is to raise funds, so the budget must be considered with every choice that you make.

When deciding to use a paid vendor for your project always get several estimates to select from, as even getting an estimate from another vendor may encourage your original choice to give you a lower price for your fundraiser. Paying attention to your budget all the time will help you stay on target, and will keep your event a fundraiser instead of putting your school in the red for an event that should have been monitored better.

6. Seek publicity

Every event needs publicity to help get the community involved and to encourage potential sponsors, more volunteers and other relationships. Contact your local newspaper, magazines, cable television and radio stations. The media will typically need at least several weeks’ notice to cover an event as they get many press releases. Getting pre-event publicity is the most important as this will help your event get more attention and may help you raise more funds. This is also the perfect time to thank your event or project sponsors and volunteers.

7. Say "Thank You"

When your fundraiser is completed it is important to say "thank you" to everyone involved. A handwritten thank you note or a personal telephone call goes a long way. Being recognized for hard work makes people want to give again to your projects when another important project for your school comes up again. Remember to also thank your event or project sponsors and advertisers.

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About the Author: Jennifer Lawton searches for fun and creative fundraisers that parents, teachers and students will enjoy.  She is a frequent writer for SuperFundraiser.com a site that provides customized fundraising programs for schools, sports teams and other youth groups.



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