The time kids spend in school, from their pre-K days to high school graduation, is a wonderful time – a time filled with learning, trying new things, making memories, hard knocks, playground lessons – oh, and raising money. At some point, every child and parent has to partake in fundraising for a school-related cause. It’s easy to look at fundraising as just another thing you have to do, like signing the release form for the upcoming field trip, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Fundraising, when done right, can offer meaningful and even amazing results, all while being fun! Yep, we said it, fun! When you eliminate the stress and frustration of choosing, planning, organizing and executing a great fundraiser, all you have left are the good parts: More money and increased awareness for your worthy group, club, organization or team. It’s possible – with a few smart tips and a good dose of enthusiasm.
Lucky for you, we’ve got all that packed in this little guide. Seriously, WE’RE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT FUNDRAISING! At Rada Mfg. Co., it’s our job to help school groups raise money – the fast, easy, fun way. Heck, it’s not just our job, it’s our passion. Each year, we help over 18,000 fundraising groups raise money, and a big chunk of those groups are school-affiliated.
Providing our fundraising program to this many groups has given us more than a few little nuggets of money-raising wisdom. We’ve been rocking the fundraising world since 1948! Our experience has taught us what goes into hosting a successful fundraiser, and we want to share those tips with you. This guide not only offers tons of ideas for fundraisers for pre-school through college, it provides tips and guidelines that can help take your fundraiser to the next level. Looking for even more information on hosting fundraisers and generating profit? You can check out our Ultimate Guide to Fundraising. It features all the details you’ll need on the general fundraising process and offers other fundraising ideas for non-school groups and causes.
Whether you’re a parent of a young child who’s new to school fundraising, a fundraising group leader, or a middle school, high school, or college student looking for fundraising ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for tons of new ideas and insider tips to make your next fundraiser the best your school has ever seen.
We’ve all been there: The student council is fundraising for the homecoming dance, and they’re selling cookie dough. Again. You still have tubs of dough in the back of your freezer from last year, and your kids have begged you to take the order form to work and plead for your coworkers (who are working on a health incentive) to load up on cookie dough. It doesn’t have to be this way! If selling cookie dough is your thing, and your kids and community loves it, then by all means, sell away. But if multiple groups in your school are selling goodies like cookie dough, chocolates, candy, baked goods, and popcorn, the community can get a little overwhelmed and diluted by the barrage of fundraisers. You can only buy so much cookie dough!
It’s important to change up the types of fundraisers you do and offer things your community will be interested in. Why? Because a lot of different people are asking the members of your community for money. There are tons of groups – through pre-school, elementary, middle school, high school, and college – that depend on the help of fundraisers.
You or your children are likely involved in one or more of these groups. Whatever the reason you fundraise, your group or cause is important to you. That’s why you want to choose a fun, unique fundraiser that your community can get excited about. If you’re looking for ideas or suggestions to get your own creative juices flowing, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve come up with tons of fundraising ideas for whichever level of school you’re involved with. Read on to find the perfect fundraiser for your school group!
Not sure what kind of fundraiser is right for your group? Check out Chapter 8 of The Ultimate Guide to Fundraising for a flow chart that helps you decide what kind of fundraiser is best for your group based on their personalities and skills!
If you’re curious about what Rada has to offer as a fundraiser, check out the next chapter, where we’ll give you the run-down on all things Rada Fundraising. Once you’ve picked the perfect fundraiser, check out our tips for each stage of the fundraiser and our promotion tips to make it a complete success.
It’s easy for us to talk about how awesome Rada is (that’s why we work here). But if you’ve never worked with us, you might not know why we’re unlike any other fundraiser you’ve done before. Let us walk you through it!
Rada Mfg. Co. has been working with fundraising groups since 1948. Groups request our catalogs and share them with their friends, family, and community to sell our products for a 40 percent profit that comes back to their cause. Last year alone, we helped over 18,000 groups raise money; a big chunk of these groups were school-affiliated. So when we say we’ve got history and experience, we really mean it. Helping you have a better fundraiser is our passion.
So why do so many school fundraising groups choose to use our program? Well, there are several benefits of selling Rada Cutlery and kitchen products, which includes utensils, gift sets, stoneware, cookbooks and delicious food. Check out some of the reasons you should sell Rada below:
We want to cater to your needs, so we offer several different options for submitting your product orders. You can send them our way via phone, mail, fax, or online. You choose what’s easiest for you. Learn more about the process at www.radacutlery.com/fundraising/ordering.
If you choose to work with us for your next fundraiser, we can help you out in the promotion department, too. We offer posters, table runners, display boxes, t-shirts, a CD of product images, and a ton of other promo materials. These are perfect for drawing attention to a fundraising booth at an event or to let people in your community know your group is hosting a fundraiser. Check out all the promotional materials you can order at www.radacutlery.com/fundraising/selling#materials.
Still curious about what it’s like to fundraise with Rada? See what real customers had to say about their experience.
“Stanton County Art Club has done this fundraiser for several years and people are still asking, ‘When are you selling Rada?’”
– Tiffany Chenoweth, Stanton County High School Art Club, Johnson, KS
“Our club participates in your fundraiser every year. Thank you for offering such a great way to help us raise money for our Beta Club!”
– Holly Pickerel, Eastern Elementary School Beta Club, Glasgow, KY
“I have bought your product before from a fundraiser and like the quality. I think it would be great for my school to do a fundraiser also.”
– Kelly Putvain, Wolcott Elementary School, Wolcott, VT
“Everyone is excited about this fundraiser. We want to get started as soon as possible. Our students are raising money to help fund their trip to Washington, D.C. Thanks!”
– Heather Register, Nakina Middle School Jr. Beta Club, Nakina, NC
“I bought the paring knives over 10 years ago and I love them!! I bought them at a church fair in the town I used to live in. I think it is a great product and would like to sell them at our school Christmas Fair.”
– Andrea Guelli, Rockport PTO, Rockport, MA
“We have used Rada as a fundraiser for quite a few years! We are very pleased with the service we receive from you!”
–Ella Mirrie Taylor, Green Bank Middle School Eighth Grade, Green Bank, WV
“I have Rada Cutlery and love it! I am the secretary at my daughter’s school and we are looking for fundraising ideas for her junior prom. When I saw that you do fundraising I knew that this was a MUST call!”
–Holly Nietfeldt, Durant High School Junior Prom, Durant, IA
“As I was growing up, my parents owned your cutlery and when I got married, I insisted on getting my own. I’m hoping that I can get some interest raised at my child’s school to do a fundraiser with Rada.”
–Shelly Borella, St. Patrick School, Canonsburg, PA
“I have Rada knives and love them! Our middle and high school band programs needs to raise money and I think the Rada knives would sell easily since they are so good and so reasonably priced. I’d like to share this with the rest of the boosters.”
–Martha Yeager-Kebo, Fitzgerald Band Boosters, Fitzgerald, GA
“After reviewing your website, I am sure we want to do a Rada fundraiser. Looks as if you have made this a very simple process, which this Beta Mom truly appreciates.”
–Cynthia Coates, Leake Central Jr. Beta Club, Carthage, MS
If you’re interested in fundraising with Rada, take the first step and request a catalog. Want to learn more about the process? Our website www.radacutlery.com/fundraising can tell you everything you need to know, and you can check out our products! We want to help you raise money, so give us a call at 1-800-311-9691 with any questions or concerns, and we’ll make your fundraiser a fun and simple process!
At this point, you probably have a pretty good idea of what kind of fundraiser you’d like to do for your school group, but perhaps you’re not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! The following chapter will give you a play-by-play of all the stages of common fundraisers and how to navigate them. Just think of us as your friendly tour guide. If you follow these steps, you’ll be prepared to execute a solid fundraiser. Let’s take that idea and bring it to life!
Before we can really get the ball rolling, we have to set our sails in one direction. That means choosing the best fundraiser for your group. There are tons of ideas in the pages of this guide, and you can find inspiration all over the place. The hardest part might be picking an enjoyable one that will also generate the funds you need. Not every fundraiser is right for every group. Take a look at our Selection Consideration Flow Chart to help you choose a fundraiser that will meet the needs of your group and fit their personalities. And remember, you don’t have to have an annual fundraiser that follows tradition. You can always choose something different. In fact, it might help you out to change things up! If your fundraiser has become stale, make it fresh by selling a new product or hosting a new event. Consider items you haven’t tried before, or a product that was sold years before but enough time has passed that the products would feel “new” to them.
More guiding notes – Limit the number of fundraisers you have. Too many fundraisers can make people feel pulled in different directions, which might encourage them to only buy from one catalog or fundraiser. Don’t dilute the sales pool; focus on better results with fewer fundraisers throughout the year, and people are apt to buy more things. Change up your timing, too. Rescheduling a fundraiser can boost sales. Many schools sell at the same time every year based on when they need an increase in funds. Try thinking about when your customers might be likely to buy. Sell in November for holiday sales, March when people have more money from tax returns, or in April for Mother’s Day gifts.
Now that you’ve picked an awesome fundraiser, you’re ready to start the planning and goal-setting process. You might think your goal for this fundraiser is obvious – you want to raise money for your group or cause! But goal-setting needs to be much more specific than that. How much money are you looking to raise? Are you trying to raise awareness of your group? Are you wanting to reach a new audience that doesn’t know much about what your group does? Are you hoping that group members learn valuable skills throughout the fundraising process? Those thoughts need to be articulated to the whole group and written down. When you discuss specific goals, there’s no confusion about what is expected of group members or what you want the outcome to be. Break your goals down into long-term and short-term objectives that seem more attainable.
Once you’ve created your goals, make timelines on a calendar so group members can measure their progress in the selling process by certain points. Take time at each group meeting to see what people have accomplished and give praise to those who are meeting or exceeding their goals, as well as encouragement to those who might be coming up short.
Along with goals, you’ll need some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). What the heck are those? We promise they’re worth your time. KPIs help you define your goals and turn them into specific actions. KPIs are easy to create for number-related goals, such as raising a certain amount of money by a target date. Group members can simply add up the money they’ve raised by that point to measure their progress. But for goals that are less cut-and-dry, such as raising awareness, you’ll definitely need a KPI in order to measure success. A KPI for raising awareness could be a certain number of new Facebook “likes” or a group member successfully posting to Twitter about your fundraiser a certain amount of times per day for a month.
For each goal, come up with a few KPIs to be checked frequently. These will help your members stay on track toward your group’s goals, which means a better fundraiser. Put KPIs on your timeline calendar, too. Alongside your goal and KPI calendar, create a calendar that shows when you’ll be executing each part of your fundraiser. This is also the time to create a budget, which will be easier once you’ve created goals and can see how long this fundraiser will last.
So how are you going to motivate your group members to meet these goals and KPIs? Say it with us: Incentivize. Offer kids who meet their KPIs at each checkpoint a chance to grab for candy or stickers in a jar, or to draw a ticket from a fish bowl for a prize, such as a pencil or bookmark. To get more group members involved in the fundraiser, offer more prizes at lower sales levels, such as small prizes for selling one item, five items and ten items. If participation is high, you can up the number of prizes you offer, or simply increase the quality of the prizes and offer them at higher selling points. To include all the students in the prize winnings and still keep top sellers motivated, tell participants that for every $10.00 they sell, they earn a $1.00. In addition to prizes, top sellers might get special privileges such as front-of-the-line passes, use of a sofa at a sporting event, having their fingernails painted by a teacher, having a teacher carry their books to the next class, the role of principal for a day, fancy lunch in the principal’s office, or a limousine ride to or from school.
It’s not just students who are motivated by incentives, though. You might want to reward the parent who helped the most with a special parking spot, or front-row seats at a school program. For teachers, you might want to collect a wish list and then reward the teacher with the highest class participation the first item on the list. You could also work with the principal to have him or her act as a classroom aide for the most successful teacher, take over their recess duties, or give them a casual jeans day. The principal could also offer to do something silly, like wearing pajamas or a ridiculous outfit. Share these ideas with your group and the rest of the school to get people motivated to reach their goals. Everyone can get behind a little principal teasing!
Don’t forget to mention to your group that you’ll be partying it up when you’re done! Promise a special event for your group such as a pizza party, before school breakfast, ice cream social, or limo ride.
Getting the word out about your fundraiser is crucial to its success. There are so many ways to do it, so promotion doesn’t have to mean making a million glittery posters (but that’s still a great way to start!). We’ll get into the details of successful promotion in Chapter 6, but here’s a quick overview. You’ll need to choose a few methods from the ones listed below, and execute them several weeks before the start of your fundraiser. Remember all those planning timelines? Your promotion methods should be on there, too.
Here are some ideas:
Promotion is a huge part of the fundraising process, so much so that you might want to designate a mini-team in your group to focus solely on promotion. If any group members have experience with design, art, sales, marketing, public relations or social media, give them the opportunity to lead your promotion team.
The time has come! You’ve planned and promoted and you’re well on your way to meeting your goals. The start of the fundraiser is bound to bring some unexpected bumps in the road, but if you’ve taken care of stages 1-3, then everything will run relatively smoothly. This is the time to embrace the chaos and scramble and be the best cheerleader you can be for your group members.
As a leader, you should be checking up on KPIs and goals at meetings, addressing any concerns or issues that have come up, and encouraging the awesome work your team is doing. If your meetings aren’t very frequent, we’d suggest checking in with members at least once a week to make sure progress is being made and there aren’t any issues with the process.
For catalog fundraisers, after you’ve finished selling, it’s time to place your product orders. This process is often pretty simple, but always extremely important. You want your customers to get the products they requested in a timely manner, and that means placing their orders correctly. Take time to execute the ordering process accurately, and you’ll definitely have repeat customers. Different fundraising programs offer various methods of ordering. At Rada, we want to make the process easy and convenient for you. You can place your orders by phone, mail, fax or web. Find out what options you have with your fundraiser and use the process that best suits you.
The products have arrived, so it’s basically a mini-Christmas. Set up a time when your group can meet to divide the products and deliver them to your customers. If your products are large or bulky, it might be easier for members to let their customers know when they can come pick them up at the school or another central location. Make sure to have members collect money at this time if they haven’t received pre-payments from customers.
Victory! You’ve crossed the finish line and it’s time to celebrate! Add up your profits and share the outcome with the rest of the group. This is a great time to go over what went well with this fundraiser and what could have gone better. Take notes on this to reflect on for your next fundraiser.
During this meeting, collect any contact information group members may have from customers. Next time you have a fundraiser, you can use this to send them promotional materials. This info is also helpful for writing thank-you notes to customers for their support.
Plan a party for your group in which you reward your top sellers with the prizes they earned, as well as some praise. Giving awards or small gifts for outstanding performances lets those members know their work is appreciated, which can help motivate the group for future fundraisers.
Follow these seven easy steps, and the fundraising process will be a piece of cake. It’s all about planning, so when the time comes to fundraise, you’ve already squashed any problems that could crop up. Your team will be goal-oriented, armed and ready with a plan and timeline, and motivated to reach those KPIs!
Get even more details on the stages of fundraising here www.radacutlery.com/guides/ultimate-fundraising-guide/fundraiser-stages
You know this fundraiser is a project for your kids, but as a parent, sometimes you feel like you should help out – especially when they’re younger. And, let’s be honest, sometimes you have to. But how much help is too much? How can you ensure that you’re letting them learn from the process? How can you give them a hand without completely taking over the fundraising responsibilities? If your child has a fundraising project to complete, never fear. This should be a project that brings you together and helps both of you learn something new; neither party should be stressed out. We’ll walk you through how to strike a balance between helpful and overbearing.
Help them find the right fundraiser or product: If your child’s fundraising group is still picking a fundraiser, or the group is having kids make products to sell, help your child figure out what will work best for them. Help them develop a list of skills they feel confident about. Then work on picking a fundraiser they’d like to do or a product they’d like to make. When they go to their next meeting, they’ll have motivation and good reasons to support the fundraising ideas they like.
Practice a sales pitch: Working on a sales pitch is one of the best ways to prepare your child for fundraising, whatever their age. If they’re very young, assist them in drafting a sales pitch by asking them questions about the products they’re selling, how much money they’re trying to raise, and how it will be used. Challenge them to come up with the answers and then help them write them out in a pitch format. Teach them to introduce themselves and their school group, deliver their pitch, and then politely ask for a contribution. Be a good audience for their practice. Go over the mini-speech a few times, offering constructive criticism to help them make improvements. Once they’ve had a few days of practice, they should feel much more confident about approaching strangers with their pitch. If your child is older, leave them to develop and write their sales pitch, but be a listening ear when it comes time to practice, and help them hone their speech. No matter how old your child is, go over how to gracefully accept a “No” from a potential customer: They should always be grateful for the customer’s time, no matter the outcome.
Spread their network: Another easy way for you to help your child is to share what they’re doing with your network. This expands the base of customers they can sell to. Take a flyer to work, your gym, and the grocery store. Bring catalogs to the office and let coworkers know what your child is selling. Help your child send a post out to family and friends on Facebook making them aware of the fundraiser. If your child is in high school or college, they can drive around town and put up flyers and order forms. But you can still be helpful by suggesting places for them to do this, as well as telling your coworkers about the fundraiser.
Encourage them, but let them miss their goal: If your child is struggling to make the suggested amount for their group, don’t feel like you have to step in or make a bigger personal donation than you’d like to help them reach their numbers. Turn this into a teaching moment. Offer tips for how they could improve, but also let them know that fundraisers don’t always meet their goals. These goals are important because they give us something to reach for, but as long as they’re raising some money, that’s the most important thing. Money doesn’t equal success, so challenge your kids to think about the connections they’ve made, the skills they’ve learned, the fun they’re had, and what a difference the money they have raised can make.
Participating in a fundraiser should help kids learn, not feel frustrated. Hopefully your child’s fundraising group already completes some version of an end-of-fundraiser assessment, but this is something you and your child can also do together. Talk about what tasks were most challenging and which ones came easy to them. Discuss what they could have done better and how they can improve in those areas. Did they stick to their schedule? Did they procrastinate and not meet their goal because of it? Were they hesitant to reach out to strangers? These are easy mistakes to make, and there’s no shame in them. By talking through these points, you can frame them as areas to work on and things that will make their next fundraiser a huge success. Now that they’ve experienced this fundraiser and its challenges, they’ll be even better prepared for the next one. Soon enough, they’ll be fundraising experts.
If your child easily reached their goal, you should still discuss the fundraising process. Did they take a leadership role? Do they feel they could handle that responsibility in the future? What ideas do they have for future fundraisers based off of how this one went for their group? Push them to take what they learned to the next step to make an even bigger difference in their next fundraising opportunity.
Encourage your kids to take the time to write thank-you notes to their customers, including family, and anyone that helped them along the way (that means you, too). Last, but certainly not least, celebrate with your child! Do something they enjoy, such as taking them out for ice cream or a movie. They deserve it after all their hard work.
One of the most important parts of the fundraising process is promotion. Without building up your audience and customer base, the best fundraising ideas in the world can turn a less-than-desirable profit. But that won’t be you, because you have all the tools you need to reach your whole audience. One of the best parts about hosting a school fundraiser is that you often know a lot about the people you want to reach and where to reach them. By taking advantage of the school building, student media, and the community’s allegiance to the school, you’ll easily be able to attract customers and alert people of the wonderful cause you’re representing.
First, identify your audience (the people you’ll be selling to). Most school fundraisers target parents and family members of the children participating in the fundraiser. Some are more focused on the community. For example, the community at large will likely be just as invested in a renovation to the local school’s football stadium as current students and their families. That means you could post flyers around the community at banks, grocery stores and parks to raise awareness in the community. Distant relatives probably won’t be as interested in contributing to this type of project. However, if your child is selling products to raise money for a field trip that means a lot to them, it makes sense to reach out to family and let them know. Here, you could take advantage of Facebook and other forms of social media to let non-local friends and family know that you’re fundraising and ask them to help you reach your goal. By knowing your audience, you can pick the form of promotion they’ll see and respond to. Think about the demographics of your audience (their age, gender, careers, hobbies) and choose your promotion based on that. If you’re trying to reach an older demographic, it might be better to send them a letter rather than post a Facebook status about your fundraiser.
Keep your promotional messages consistent. It might seem like a good idea to make different colored posters, flyers and calling cards with new, fun fonts, but you want your message to be reinforced when someone encounters it more than once. Too many different visuals can get confusing. Choose a design concept for your visual promotional materials and stick with it; that means using the same color combinations, fonts, logos and slogans throughout the process. That way, when someone reads your flyer and then sees a poster a few days later, it reminds them of the information they already know, helping them to remember your cause. You want people to make associations between your different promotional materials, not be confused by them. That doesn’t mean everything has to look exactly the same, but each piece should look like it belongs to the same family. If your flyer suggests people visit your website, they should be able to open it up on their browser and know they’ve made it to the right place.
Timing is key to promotional success. You can’t wait until the last minute (procrastinators, we’re looking at you), but starting too far in advance can build anticipation that fizzles out during the wait. To hit the sweet spot, begin your promotional efforts two to three weeks before a traditional sales fundraiser and four to five weeks before an event fundraiser. You want to allow people time to generate some word-of-mouth and excitement about the fundraiser. And make sure to release your promotion in waves; don’t choose one method and stop after that. Continue promoting your fundraiser until it’s completely over.
You know the saying, “Give and you shall receive?” Well, it applies to fundraising, too. If other grades or teams are hosting a fundraiser and ask for your help, pitch in if you can. If you can’t make a monetary contribution, there are other ways you can help them out. Post to your social media channels about it and help spread the word that this group is awesome and could use support. Offer to pass out flyers. Gestures like these helps promote a sense of community. Plus, when it comes time for your fundraiser, others will remember your generosity.
A few other useful nuggets: Promote your fundraising products as gifts. People are often unwilling to spend money on themselves, but they always need gifts for others. And besides, it’s fun to spend money on family and friends! Plus, if you can offer a product that not only they would use, but one they would be happy to give to somebody as a present, that product just became twice as appealing.
Play show and tell with your products. Ask for samples from the company or purchase several just for display. Knowledge of the product will go a long way when it comes time to promote and sell it. Sometimes a product will “sell itself” by how well it is manufactured or presented.
Study up. Make sure your kids know exactly how much of your profit is going and where. People are more likely to help a fundraiser if they know what the money is being raised for. If you can say $X will go towards new computers or $Y will pay for a class field trip, people are more likely to make a purchase.
Try a few of these methods based on what you think your specific audience will respond to.
Looking for a catchy slogan for your fundraiser? Check out these tried and true slogans for school groups.
Get more tips and information about fundraiser promotion methods here www.radacutlery.com/guides/ultimate-fundraising-guide/promoting.
You’ve reached the finish line! You’re about to graduate from our crash course in school fundraising. Don’t worry, there’s no cumulative final waiting for you just amazing fundraisers in your future! Think of this guide as your cheat sheet for all things school fundraising. You’ll have tons of ideas, including fabulous Rada Cutlery. You’ll have an outline that walks you through all the stages of a successful fundraiser. You’ll know when to lend a hand (and when to take a step back) with a child’s fundraiser, and you’ll be a master of fundraiser promotion.
But just as this guide is closing, a new challenge awaits you: Your next fundraiser! Go out there and do awesome things for your school group. You’ve studied up and now you’re ready.
If you’d like to fundraise with Rada, please visit www.radacutlery.com/ssl/request-catalog to request a catalog. Check out www.radacutlery.com/fundraising to learn more about the program or call us at 1-800-311-9691 for help with your fundraiser at any time.
We can’t wait to hear your fundraising success stories. Good luck and happy fundraising!
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