Archive | May, 2015

Smart Questions for Fundraising Strategy

29 May

With recent cuts to federal and state budgets drastically reducing educational funding, your school’s fundraising efforts are becoming more and more important. The responsibility of generating financial support for school programs and projects is falling to parents, teachers, and volunteers – who often have little to no fundraising experience. Because of this, the creation of a cohesive fundraising strategy is often overlooked.

The following questions are designed to help you analyze your fundraising strategy – so you can devote your time and energy to the activities and efforts which best meet the needs of your educational institution. If your school already has a fundraising plan, these questions can be applied to evaluate its effectiveness, and help you create or strengthen your existing fundraising guidelines.

Why you are raising funds?

Your fundraising efforts should be focused on the problem you hope to resolve, or the needs and opportunities you hope to meet with the funds collected. Raising funds to purchase new playground equipment is great – but the real reason you are raising those funds is to allow children to play safely, and promote their health by encouraging them to exercise. By emphasizing the reasons behind your goals, you’ll help your fundraising team and donors understand your purpose, define how the money raised will be used, and provide a connection between your goals and fundraising efforts.

What values do you share with your donors?

In the example above, your school’s efforts would be supporting the health and safety of students. Your best prospective donors would be those who also hold interest in supporting those efforts – for instance, the parents or grandparents of your students, or a community organization which is focused on teaching kids healthy exercise habits. Ask your fundraising team to brainstorm, and identify any local organizations or individuals known to share the values which define your efforts – and you’ll find yourself connecting with donors who are already inspired to support your cause.

Do your efforts align with your values?

It is essential that your fundraising strategy reflect the values of your goal, or it may be counterproductive. For example, a cake walk to support the purchase of your playground equipment (which aims to promote the healthy habits of students) would be inappropriate – where the sale of healthy snacks, such as those offered in a Popcorn Palace fundraiser, would be perfectly suited to support your efforts. Making sure that your fundraising activities and efforts align with your ultimate goals and values is important to donors – and to the success of your campaign.

What will your fundraiser cost?

A comprehensive fundraising strategy needs to take the cost of fundraising activities into consideration. If your fundraiser is centered around product sales, make sure you are clear on any up-front or out-of-pocket costs before committing. You should also take into consideration additional costs such as posters or flyers, prizes, or awards, when determining your campaign budget, and cost per dollar raised. Revisiting these numbers after your campaign is completed will help you refine your fundraising strategy for future efforts, as well.

Are your fundraising partners operating in their integrity?

Partnering with corporations or other organizations is a great fundraising strategy, and can be an effective way to raise additional support for your campaign. It helps you demonstrate wide support for your efforts, and can help you raise additional awareness about your educational organization’s needs. Still, you should carefully assess any company or organization considered for partnership before beginning your campaign, in order to ensure that their values align with your own, and that they are operating in their integrity. Aligning with a business who’s efforts or practices are in conflict with your goals could be detrimental to your campaign – but a strong partnership with an organization whose values and goals reflect your own can offer an incredible boost, and reinforce your fundraising efforts.

How will this campaign benefit your community?

Whenever possible, explain how the accomplishment of your school’s goals will positively impact your community. When you can help others understand how their contributions directly affect their community on a wider scale, you’ll gain greater support, and pave the way for their willing participation.

While these questions aren’t the only things to consider, you can use them to hone your fundraising strategy, educate your community, and prepare volunteers and students for interacting with potential donors. By focusing on your school’s goals, and the values they support, you’ll allow your donors the opportunity to contribute to your campaign in a way that makes them feel valued and connected.

For more information on how Popcorn Palace can help you launch a fundraising campaign which supports the health and well being of your students, with no out-of-pocket cost – contact our fundraising team, and we’ll help you get started on the path to fundraising success!

Competition vs. Cooperation: Which Gets Better Fundraising Results?

19 May

Are you organizing a fundraiser for kids, and you’re wondering whether to make it a competitive or cooperative fundraiser? You should start by asking yourself which is better for the members involved and which would raise more money. Before you begin your fundraiser, compare the pros and cons of each.

Competition

Many fundraisers are designed to be competitions and with good reason. Some students get inspired and energized trying to outdo each other in school fundraisers – some kids have really competitive spirits.

Using this as a healthy advantage can lead to excellent results with fundraisers. If the kids are not yet at an age where they care about or understand the financial side of things, set other goals they can focus on. For example, choose a number of items each child is expected to sell. Keep a tally with stickers on a decorated poster.

For older kids who do understand the finances, directly setting monetary goals lets them be more involved in the fundraising, and they can track what percentage of the overall fundraiser they’re bringing in by themselves. For further incentive, offer a small prize to the one who raises the most.

You don’t want any angry or hurt feelings between anybody involved, so you have to find a balance of friendly and competitive. If you succeed, you can achieve fantastic results. To make the most of this, try a few of these tips:

  • Regularly meet to compare sales and numbers. Merely knowing there is a number to aim for helps, but having a time to review how each team member is doing keeps everyone on their toes.
  • Make sure to make the goal easily measurable.
  • Keep the end prize something fun but not over the top.
  • Always be positive about everyone’s efforts. If you keep the tone light and friendly, kids will follow with the tone you set.
  • Make sure the focus is always kept on the end goal and what they will be able to be accomplished with the funds.

Cooperation

If you feel your group isn’t well suited for competition, than cooperation is a better option. Cooperation has its advantages. Where competition can foster individual successes, cooperation can teach your group to work with each other to achieve the same goal. You can use this as an opportunity to teach kids about teamwork and sharing successes, and some people just do better in a cooperative environment because it’s friendly and less stressful.

Fundraising is really well suited for cooperation because your members have the same end goal in common: raising money to do something awesome with the funds.

There are multiple choices for how to organize a cooperative fundraiser. You can focus on teamwork and working in groups. Either set teammates early on, so they’re working together in their small groups throughout the fundraiser, or organize teams and consistently change up the members, so it is less likely they will get competitive in their groups.

You can also organize larger group events, so everyone is working together with the same opportunities. Some kids can work booths, while others raise awareness for the organization. Some kids can help set up, and some kids can help break down the booth at the end. This way, kids are responsible for more than just sales. They all pitch in in different ways.

Some final tips for cooperative fundraising:

  • Regularly meet to talk about the group goals and what you are doing together to achieve them.
  • Tally success as a group and don’t track individual contribution.
  • Offer a group prize for everyone when the fundraising is finished, like a pizza party.

Competition and cooperation both have their merits and can each drive great results. Choosing one over the other depends on the people involved and what your ultimate goal is.

At Popcorn Palace, we love to talk fundraising. If you need any help with an upcoming fundraiser, than read through more blog articles for helpful fundraising tips or contact Popcorn Palace today.

 

 

Guidelines for Successful Fundraising

12 May

When fundraising for your school, team, or charitable organization, you’ll likely be relying on the participation of volunteers, PTO/PTA members, and your students parents to get the bulk of your work done. Whether your fundraiser involves the sale of Popcorn Palace’s delicious and nutritious gourmet snacks, or the planning of another fundraising event – your team needs a great fundraising strategy to help them succeed in raising the funds your organization needs.

Working with a group of students or volunteers is different than working with a paid staff. Though they may be enthusiastic, and have access to a wide range of community members and social contacts, they need to feel supported and appreciated, in order to remain motivated. Here, our fundraising experts outline some simple guidelines of fundraising strategy, intended to assist you in organizing your volunteer efforts:

Provide volunteer training

The best way to support your volunteer team is to hold a pre-fundraising orientation, in which you outline your goals, fundraising strategy, and expectations. Share any specifics you’d like them to keep in mind, and let them ask any relevant questions. You can also let them know exactly who to contact if they run into any issues, snags, or concerns. By taking the time to help familiarize your volunteers with your unique goals, you’ll help them focus their efforts, and ensure their satisfaction – and happy volunteers make better fundraisers!

Provide materials (and ongoing support!)

In addition to training, make sure your team has everything they need to be successful. Provide your volunteer team with printed copies of your training and orientation outline, along with a healthy supply of the items they will need to fundraise – including Popcorn Palace brochures, order forms, donor envelopes, annual reports for your organization, or information regarding where donations will be spent (such as images of team uniforms, equipment which will be purchased, and so forth).  Also, be sure to provide ongoing support, by scheduling frequent volunteer check-ins, or providing a volunteer “hotline” for questions which arise throughout the campaign.

Be open to creativity

While you should outline the basics protocol and standards of fundraising for your school or organization, don’t stifle the creativity of your fundraising team. Stay open to the new angles and ideas presented by enthusiastic volunteers, and you may find their feedback helps you expand your fundraising strategy to incorporate new angles and opportunities.

Keep track of progress

Make sure each individual has a clear handle on the tasks they are expected to accomplish, and stay in close touch with your volunteers throughout your campaign. Keep track of your progress, and make sure to offer support to volunteers who may be faltering. Your ongoing support, encouragement, and attention to detail will ensure the success of your campaign!

Appreciate your volunteers

Remember, your volunteers are here to support your efforts – not because they have to, but because they want to. Make sure your team feels appreciated, by expressing your gratitude and thanks throughout the process. By providing them with ongoing praise and recognition for their efforts, you’ll find yourself with a dedicated team of volunteers – who return to support you, year after year!

For more information on fundraising strategy, and how to successfully organize and support your volunteer team, feel free to contact Popcorn Palace. Our fundraising experts are available to provide you with the information and support you need to make sure your campaign is a hit – year after year!