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4 rookie mistakes to avoid in fundraising

“Booking a fundraiser is simple right?  You just place an order, set up a display and the products sell themselves!”

If only it was this easy!  We have created a list of the top 4 mishaps we hear about in the wonderful (but often unpredictable) world of fundraising, along with some suggested prevention strategies.  We can’t promise our strategies will offer a foolproof drive, but they should help to make things easier for you in the long run.

  1. Over-ordering. It’s great to be ambitious but being too ambitious can backfire – you don’t want to be stuck with lots of left overs and even if your chosen company accepts returns, the more you have to return, the more it will cost in postage which could take big chunk out of your profits.

Solution:  More than often it is better to start off conservatively and top up if you need to.  Our basic rules of thumb for ordering are:
1. If running a take-home drive, order one carry bag per family, maximum.
2. If holding a market stall or setting up a display, order the minimum amount along with order forms. Stalls can often be predictable to it is best to order conservatively.

  1. Assuming the products will sell themselves. You may have sold out of your carry bag within two days, but not everyone will be this proactive, or lucky.  Busy people need reminding, disinterested people need encouraging and some people may even need a little pushing.  

Solution: Communication and lots of it!  Let families and staff know about the fundraiser well ahead of time with posters, newsletter inserts and good ol’ fashioned word of mouth.  Why did you choose this particular fundraiser?  What is good about it?  Where will the funds go?  Give people a real reason to jump on board before it even begins, and once the drive does start, be sure send out weekly emails and/or texts to encourage selling and advise of timeframes.  Let’s face it – you’re never going to get cooperation from everyone, but don’t let a few party poopers dishearten you!

  1. Not asking for help. Coordinating a fundraiser is a big task and if not done properly, can really affect results.  If you’re lucky, teachers or staff may jump in to help when you’re headed for struggle street, but you shouldn’t rely on this.

Solution: Enlist support before the drive starts.  This is sometimes easier said than done – quite often you’ll start the drive with a bunch of enthusiastic people willing to lend a hand, only to find half way through they have abandoned you.  This is why it is a good idea to put people’s roles in writing before you even order.  You don’t have to write out a Terms of Reference or anything formal like that, but emailing a list to the committee will help keep people accountable and weed out the “all-talkers”.  In the rare instance that no one puts their hand up, you may need to re-think the drive you are running.

  1. Allowing negative feedback to put you off. It’s true what they say… you can’t win em all!  Whether it’s fellow committee members, parents or the general public, it’s hard not to take negative feedback personally, but it’s important to soldier on, particularly once the drive has started.

Solution:  Do your research, know your products and profits, and believe in your decisions.  Have a mental list of why you like the products, why they work well for your group and how they are going to raise lots of funds!  Show people you have thought things through and are in control.