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Motivating Parent Volunteers for School Fundraising

By Jennifer Lawton

Everyone knows that school fundraising is important, especially parents. But when it comes to getting tasks done, it can be hard to get parents to come forward. How can you keep parents motivated to work on a school fundraiser?

Keep these ideas in mind to get parents involved and energized while working on your school project.

1. Clear Goals - When working on a school fundraiser, make sure that parents understand why you are doing this project. Do they know that the band needs new uniforms and funds to attend a special competition? Do they know your school needs new computers? Whatever the need is, make is specific and clear so that parents see a deadline and parents see a specific goal. Giving parents (or anyone), a specific goal makes it feel more achievable. Making your message clear helps them to fully understand the need for the fundraiser.

2. Make It Easy – Some parents may feel confident stepping into a fundraising assignment, but others may not have any experience. If you break down tasks into measurable goals, they may realize that this is something that they can achieve. Sometimes they may also realize that they have done something similar to this at work or for another organization – and this will make them feel more confident going into the task. Breaking down the task also gives them the opportunity to ask questions about what they feel most challenged about.

3. Good Leaders - Every project should have a leader that is concerned with the project, but they should also be concerned with developing future fundraisers for the school. How can they help new parents get involved and do their best for the school? By listening, by being available and by responding to questions. Sometimes simply knowing that someone is there to answer your questions and to listen to you gives you the confidence to go forward with your project.

4. Do Less Fundraising - According to the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors & Suppliers doing less fundraising is truly “less is more” in many ways for your fundraising efforts. If you make many fundraising “pleas” during the year, parents will grow weary of the drives and working on them. Those that donate will also grow tired of giving, or will be unable to give as often as you’d like. Having one or two fundraising efforts a year could be far more successful than many, smaller efforts.

5. Keep the Energy Up - Make your project seem exciting and stay positive about it. No one wants to work on something that is a real drag. Make meetings seem inviting by offering refreshments (coffee and cookies are quite inexpensive). Even if there are parts of your project that are challenging, keep a positive attitude about your fundraising project for your school and remind people that making an effort will have an impact.

6. Listen - Sometimes new volunteers come onto a project and they have ideas that could make a difference. They may be ideas that are a little off-the-beaten path, or they are not from the “tried and true” members of the Committee. Change is often necessary to be successful, and a good school fundraising project is open to change. Simply by listening to your volunteers you can be aware if changes need to be made. This will help you raise more funds and will most importantly, help you have strong relationships with your volunteers. This will keep them quite motivated.

7. Say “Thank You” - Thank volunteers early and often.  What would you feel like if you gave your time to a project and people did not even say thank you when you completed it? Probably you would think twice about volunteering for them. Saying “Thank You” is a critical step in motivating volunteers each step of the way. At the end of a project it would be nice to send thank you notes, too.  Parents who feel appreciated are more likely to volunteer for the next project.

Keeping volunteers motivated for your school fundraising project can take a little time and a little effort. But volunteers are valuable and our schools need terrific volunteers involved and dedicated to their success!


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

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