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Are You Teaching Students These Important Lessons
During a School Fundraiser?

When your school decides to pursue a fundraiser for a particular need, it is very easy to focus on that goal with laser-like intensity. The time and effort required to pull off a successful fundraising event requires this kind of commitment from everyone involved. However, I contend that there are also numerous opportunities for children to learn some very important life-lessons along the way. I believe that it is our responsibility as adult leaders to ensure these lessons are not glossed over in the rush to raise dollars. We should be coaching parents on how to discuss what goes into a fundraiser and why it is important for the students to be involved in a positive manner.

How to Set Goals

The first lesson children can learn from a school fundraiser is the concept of setting and then working toward a goal. Since the goal often has a direct impact on the students' school, it may be easier to help them to see why it is meaningful. Early on in the process, parents can explain to their children that if they want to "get" whatever the goal is, they will have to do the following things in order to achieve it. It's a very simple "If...then..." scenario.

How to Practice Self-Sacrifice

Once children have grasped the notion of goal setting and committing themselves to the work required for success, they may be ready for perhaps most important lesson to be taught from a fundraiser, which is that of self-sacrifice for a larger purpose. Children from elementary to high school are often more focused on their own needs and desires than those of others. If we can get them to realize that they should give of their own time, effort, and money for their school, it will be an important moment in their journey toward adulthood. Once the fundraiser is over, parents can talk to their children about the good feeling that comes from helping others. Hopefully, this will develop into a life-long habit for them.

How to Ask for Money for a Cause

Another lesson that can be taught to children is how to properly ask people for money. This is a very difficult task. In fact, many adults are scared to do this. During a school fundraiser and under the guidance of parents, teachers, and other concerned adults, children can learn how to share the story of their school's need with others. They can become comfortable in asking, not for themselves, but for a cause they truly believe in. They will get used to hearing "no", but not giving up. They will experience the rush that comes from someone giving a meaningful donation, just because they had the courage to ask.

How to Present to Adults

During this process of asking for money, whether it be for a product sale, a pledge, or for raffle tickets, children will learn how to present themselves to adults. They will quickly realize that improper attire, a weak handshake, mumbling, lack of eye contact, and un-preparedness will result in a flurry of "no's". It won't take long before they begin to adopt those habits which garner proven results. This kind of behavior modification will only bring the students more success as they enter the world of college admission interviews or eventually, job interviews.

How to Articulate Passion

As the children gain experience making fundraising presentations, they will be able to start articulating their own pitch. They will learn the language required for successful "asks". They will develop the ability to paint an effective word-picture for their potential donors. They will learn when to speak and when to listen. They'll figure out how not to say too much. They will gain the ability to share their passion with strangers and get results doing so. These skills will be useful to them in any profession they choose. Parents need to recognize these teachable moments and make sure their children are seizing the many learning opportunities in front of them.

Conclusion

In order to become successful in the field of fundraising, a person needs to understand other people. He needs to be comfortable in himself and in his cause. An excellent fundraiser needs to know how to create and share a vision. He needs to know how to listen to and genuinely care about their people he is soliciting for donations. These attributes don't just "happen" overnight. They must be carefully cultivated over years of trial and error, and success and failure.

As you plan out the strategy for your next fundraising event, I urge you not to forget that you have the chance and the responsibility to make sure these vital lessons are passed on to the next generation.

About the Author: James Berigan is a former school principal who enjoys guiding schools with their fundraising efforts. He writes for the Top School Fundraisers blog at http://TopSchoolFundraisers.com/news which includes a variety of fundraising options like fundraising events and school carnivals.



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