Anyone who has experience with school fundraising knows it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. School fundraising brings in much-needed money for everything from educational programs to new technology for students. When done right, fundraisers are also loads of fun, bringing people together and creating lasting memories for students, teachers, parents, and more.

Maximizing fun and minimizing stress is doable even for a brand new volunteer or PTA/O member - as long as you follow a few basic rules. The school fundraising experts at Booster have put together a list of fundraising mistakes to avoid as you make your plans.

8 Fundraising Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Lack of organization

As the saying goes, fail to plan, plan to fail. The PTA/O is typically responsible for a number of events and programs throughout the year, and it’s important to approach these fundraising efforts in an organized way.

A best practice is to start every fundraising year with an action plan. This action plan should provide a clear fundraising “destination” along with a path for how you’ll get there. 

Use this action plan to decide not only what will happen and when, but also who is responsible for what. School fundraising is a collaborative effort, and a clear action plan helps PTA/O leaders delegate tasks and utilize member strengths.

Use this same approach for each individual fundraiser. With an action plan for each event or program, your fundraisers will go much more smoothly and you’ll be able to easily review and evaluate your efforts in order to be just as (or more!) successful the following year.

2. Unclear goals

One of the most important parts of creating your school fundraising action plan is determining your goals. Not only do goals provide direction for your fundraising efforts and prevent chaos and confusion, but they also provide volunteers with a sense of purpose and satisfaction when goals are met. If goals aren’t met, you at least have a standard by which to measure what went right and what went wrong.

When determining your school fundraising goals, you should at least answer two basic questions: how much money do you aim to raise and what will the funds be used for?

The PTA/O should have a clear purpose for the fundraising year as a whole as well as each individual fundraiser.

3. No kick-off

A kick-off is one of the most crucial parts of any school fundraiser. It’s an opportunity to supercharge awareness and excitement for your event. Kick-off is the moment your fundraiser starts. Think of it as a whistle blowing or an airhorn firing off to start a race. It gets students hyped, provides important details to potential donors and lets everyone know to get the donations rolling in!

Because of this, your fundraiser kick-off provides a focal point for your promotion efforts. When creating social media posts, emails, flyers, or other materials letting people know about your event, the kick-off is one thing you’ll likely be focusing on. Which brings us to another fundraising mistake to avoid…

4. Failure to promote your fundraiser

People can’t donate to your fundraiser if they don’t know about it! A significant portion of your school fundraising efforts should go toward promotion. You may even find it helpful to create a subcommittee dedicated entirely to this important action item.

Though it’s likely not the only promotional tool you’ll use, social media will likely be your best friend when it comes to promoting your fundraiser. Other important promotional avenues include school announcements, flyers (sent home with students and posted around the community), email newsletters, and more.

5. Poor fundraiser tracking

As we discussed in item #1 of this list, staying organized is arguably the most important rule of school fundraising (besides having fun, of course!). That rule applies not just before the fundraiser, but also during and after. For any fundraiser, you need a way to measure progress toward your goals by managing donors, tracking donations, and keeping dates and benchmarks all in one place.

Some PTA/Os use traditional spreadsheets to track progress, but online fundraising trackers like MyBooster make this process even easier.

6. Poor volunteer management

School fundraising wouldn’t be possible without volunteers. That’s why volunteer recruiting and management are a key part of any fundraising effort.

Keeping a roster of reliable volunteers who want to come back year after year is an art that every PTA/O member should master. It requires good recruitment tactics, such as using parent volunteer forms to gather information about volunteer availability and interests. It also benefits from a commitment to building relationships and showing appreciation for volunteers’ hard work.

In many ways, the same goes for attracting and retaining donors. Learn more about donor and volunteer management from Booster experts.

7. Relying only on events

Events like auctions, bake sales, car washes, and restaurant nights are tried and true ways to bring in cash for your school, and they’re usually a ton of fun. That said, amounts may vary when it comes to how profitable these events are - especially when compared to the amount of effort and organization that goes into one of these events.

The best way to maximize profits is to diversify your school's fundraising efforts. You should use a mix of events and year-round programs. 

One of our favorite ways to raise funds on an ongoing basis is through a spirit gear store. With this fundraising method, you can have an online “store” open off and on throughout the year where students, teachers, and members of the community can buy awesome t-shirts, hoodies, bags, and other school swag to show off their school pride while making a difference. 

Booster Gear makes opening an online spirit wear store easier than ever.

8. Wasting the summer months

Don’t get us wrong - everyone needs rest and summer is the perfect time to take a well-deserved break from school fundraising. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use some time during the summer to catch up (or get a head start) on things that tend to get neglected when fundraising season swings into gear.

From organizing files to brainstorming back-to-school week to just letting loose and spending quality time with your fellow PTA/O members, the summer months provide unique opportunities for school fundraising work.

Learn from the school fundraising experts

The experts at Booster have seen everything under the sun when it comes to school fundraising, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way so you don’t have to. If your school fundraising duties are feeling a little overwhelming, get in touch with Booster today

Whether you need a better way to track your DIY fundraisers or want a fundraising partner to help plan and execute your entire event, we’re here to help!

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