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Why fundraise? It happens every year. An elementary school sends an email announcing its next school fundraiser, causing many parents to wonder, “Why do we need to fundraise at all? How do school fundraisers work?”

In this blog, you’ll learn more about: 

They’re valid questions and ones that are not universally understood. But as the think tank Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and others have noted, many schools simply don’t have enough funds to provide students with the educational experience they deserve. The CBPP’s recent report on the subject noted:

“Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools — in some cases, much less — than before the Great Recession. Worse, some states are still cutting eight years after the recession took hold . . . These cuts weaken schools’ capacity to develop the intelligence and creativity of the next generation of workers and entrepreneurs.”

That’s why we asked a principal and two PTO Presidents why schools need to fundraise. If you’re wondering why we fundraise or how do school fundraisers work, their responses may give you a better understanding.

1. At a basic level, why do schools need to fundraise?

“As a school leader, I am very aware of the fact that the funds allocated to us from our various sources [federal, state, and local funding] often fall short of what is needed in order to provide all of our students the very best academically, socially, physically, and emotionally. As a result, we have to look beyond the normal sources of income to meet any deficiency that may exist.”  –Steven Puckett, Principal at Harrisburg Elementary in Fort Mill, SC

“Schools need money to purchase upgrades to their technology, playground equipment, special needs items, as well as provide teachers with funding to make their classroom student-ready. It also is a great way to get kids and their families involved in the school.” –Stephanie Provo, PTO President, Birnham Woods Elementary, Spring, TX

2. What are you able to purchase with the extra funds raised?

“Recently, our needs assessment showed that we needed technology, books for students and teachers, and more outdoor equipment for students. With this in mind, we decided to diversify our efforts and focus on technology and books our first year and more outdoor equipment our second year.” –Steven Puckett, Principal at Harrisburg Elementary in Fort Mill, SC

“We’re able to provide a canopy at our entryway, training for our teachers, substitute teachers for student led conferences, and updated technology.” –Trisha Cooper, PTO President, Oak Mountain Elementary, Birmingham, AL  

“We’ve purchased playground equipment, playground shades, so it's cooler for the kids, updated technology (because it's always changing), field trips for all of our students (so there is no cost to them), Chrome carts so students can learn on tablets, scholarships for our teachers to attend conferences or seminars, and many other things our staff and teachers ask for.”  –Stephanie Provo, PTO President, Birnham Woods Elementary, Spring, TX

3. How do those resources benefit your students and in what ways?

“As an elementary school, teaching students how to read is fundamental to what we do. The best way for them to learn is to get as many books as you can in their hands. Thanks to our fundraising efforts, we provide students with relevant, grade-level titles to push them to become the very best readers they can be. We also stress the importance of staying active. The funds we raised this past year allowed us to purchase and install an obstacle course-based playground system that our students absolutely love! This purchase has generated positive energy and boosted the level of physical activity for all of our children.”–Steven Puckett, Principal at Harrisburg Elementary in Fort Mill, SC

4. What do you look for when deciding on a fundraiser?

“FUN, FUN, FUN! If the whole thing feels FUN, you’ll increase your chance of effectiveness. Also, the more school goals you can accomplish with one fundraiser, the more effective your school operations will be. Boosterthon does this. It combines leadership, character (which is huge for our school), fun, and the opportunity to make money as well.” –Steven Puckett, Principal at Harrisburg Elementary in Fort Mill, SC

“We look for a way to raise funds while engaging our entire school population. We want our kids to feel invested in it. We also look at what we can do with the pool of volunteers we have.” –Trisha Cooper, PTO President, Oak Mountain Elementary, Birmingham, AL

“Since our school opened eight years ago, we’ve only used Boosterthon as our fundraiser. We do not sell cookie dough, coupon books, magazines, wrapping paper, etc. We partner with Boosterthon every year because the character traits they teach our students are great for them and us. Plus, everyone can participate in the program, regardless of financial participation. It's very family-oriented, and everyone is included for those ten days. We also love being able to take part in Boosterthon’s giveback programs (The Great Shoe Takeoff and The High-Five Meal Drive). It teaches the kids how to give back, which is way better than selling wrapping paper or cookie dough where nothing is learned.” –Stephanie Provo, PTO President, Birnham Woods Elementary, Spring, TX

5. For someone who thinks, “Didn’t we fundraise last year? Why do we need to do it again?” What would you say?

“Fundraising is not about making money. My personal belief about why we fundraise is for school improvement and the opportunity to provide all students with the very BEST educational experiences.” –Steven Puckett, Principal at Harrisburg Elementary in Fort Mill, SC

“Just like our households, schools have expenses, bills, and items that need to be replaced. Because of the lack of government funding, if we want our school to continue to be "top of the line,” we have to fundraise every year with intentionality.” –Trisha Cooper, PTO President, Oak Mountain Elementary, Birmingham, AL

“You have to fundraise each year. The cost of resources goes up every year, you get more students so you need more to fund them and their field trips, and the money eventually runs out if you’re giving it back to the school throughout the year. When you partner with Boosterthon, you won't have to do another fundraiser for your school — you can earn what you need in one event while having fun and teaching students great character traits too.” –Stephanie Provo, PTO President, Birnham Woods Elementary, Spring, TX

Are you looking for school fundraisers that can help give your students the best educational experience possible? Do you want to learn more to answer the question, “How do school fundraisers work?”

Check out a few Boosterthon case studies to see why we fundraise and what schools have been able to provide through our fun, hassle-free fundraisers.

The Ultimate School Fundraising Checklist

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