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Managing a Fundraiser
by Doug Nash
The demands on todayís teachers are greater than they have ever been. Not only do they have to teach but they are also expected to do more reporting and support extra curricula activities. By the time they do all they have to as teachers and individuals they donít have a much time leftover for other demands on their time and so fundraising is not high on their list of priorities. More and more the amount of personal funds that teachers spend in their classrooms so they can meet the needs of their students is significant. This seems to be an accepted fact of life by a lot of teachers and this adds to their frustration.
All of us have to deal with a lack of time and money at different times and teachers are no different. This is where a well organized fundraising effort can have a huge impact on the learning experience of our children and help teachers do their job better. The key is getting to the teachers early in the process, keeping their time investment to a minimum and making sure they see a tangible and personally relevant reward.
The first thing you must understand and accept is that you will not be able to recruit every teacher to your cause, no matter how frustrated they are or how difficult their situation or how helpful your efforts will be for them. There is and always will be a percentage of people who will not participate in the raising of funds but will always be there when the spoils of a lot of hard work are to be handed out. This is just a fact of life.
There is a four fold way of getting teachers involved and keeping them involved.
Do your homework and discover what the teachers at your school need most. It is better to focus in on one goal. However sometimes you may need to expand this to maybe two or three goals, so more teachers and therefore students and parents may get involved. The most important fact in regard to these chosen goals is the relevance of the goals to those you want to get involved and suitability of the fundraisers to the teachers and the area in which you want to fundraise.
Once you have chosen what needs have to be address you then need to determine what kind of fundraisers are most appropriate. The key to success at this stage is to involve the teachers in the choosing of the needs to be addressed and the fundraisers to address the needs. You need to keep the meetings to a minimum and keep them as short as possible. Remember that time is at a premium with the teachers and it is a major problem we are trying to help with.
By getting the teachers involved early and having a direct input to the whole process that is aimed at making their life easier provides the best kind of motivation for them to get involved and stay involved. For example, several teachers may want a particular set of books that they can use in class but the school either wonít buy them or canít afford them. Talk to the teachers for ideas and comments on what they are willing to do in regards to fundraising to acquire the books so that they donít have to pay for them out of their own pockets. The benefit of the books in this case has to outweigh the inconvenience and investment of time to get them. Once the benefits of the books are outweighed by the hassle of getting them you are dead in the water, the help of the teachers will disappear like mist in the morning sun.
By getting teachers onboard you gain access to other forms of help: students and parents and the wider school community like grounds men, teacher aides and the administration staff.
It is important to point out at this stage that there are two main groups benefiting from the books in this example, the teachers and the students. Both benefit but in different ways, so you have to sell the right benefit to the right people. Another point to sell is that the benefit of having the books for years to come outweighs the effort and inconvenience of getting them now to the teachers not the parents. The parents only care about this year and not the children to come, which is the concern of the teachers.
The third stage of successfully engaging teachers is choosing the type of fundraiser that is suitable to the demands on the teachers as well as the end goals of how much money you need to purchase the books.
Two points to remember that will have a huge impact. First, make sure that teachers only collect the money and hand it over to a parent or fundraiser. Secondly, keep the teachers and all others involved in the fundraising effort informed about the progress of the fundraiser. This is an easy and common mistake to make; the more informed people are the more appreciated and involved they feel. Money and information are always the most critical parts the success or failure of a fundraiser and fundraising organization.
A common failure in all types of fundraising is the follow-up, especially if you are intending to do more fundraising. Once the fundraiser is over and in this instance the books have been purchased, you need to go back to the teachers and ask a few questions. What the effort worth it? Would the teachers or others involved do it again why? How could you have done it better?
These questions if properly canvassed and then analyzed can offer a wealth of information that can assist you or others who may wish to follow your lead. This information can be used to make the next fundraiser easier, more profitable or hopefully both.
The vast majority of teachers are dedicated and professional who want to provide the best possible learning experience for the students in theater charge. Although at times it may not seem that way. Teachers can be recruited into fundraising efforts if the right approach is found. Rightly or wrongly, in the real world, it is usually up to the fundraiser not the teachers who will have to find the solutions. This is not to be seen as a slight on teachers, just a reflection of the busy times we live in. You can be successful in having teachers involved; schools around the world are proving this every day, so why should your school be any different?
About the Author:
Doug Nash lives in Logan City in Queensland, Australia. He has graciously consented to share his thoughts about fundraising with us. All of his ideas have a unique flair that come from being developed and refined half a world away from ours. Visit his web site at http://www.home.gil.com.au/~dnash/ for more fundraising ideas.
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