Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 16, 2018

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Prevent Fundraising Fatigue

by the AFRDS

As a school principal or PTA/PTO president, you are probably familiar with the phrase "fundraising fatigue." You may have even felt it yourself. Everybody seems to be fundraising these days and as a result, some families are tuning out and no longer supporting all of these programs. As a fundraising decision maker you have an opportunity to turn back this trend of apathy and pump new energy into your school's fundraising efforts.

The good news is that the vast majority of Americans still support school fundraising to a degree. During the 2005-06 school year, 8 out of 10 Americans (and 9 out of 10 parents) purchased a consumer item to support a school fundraiser. Why? Three out of 4 Americans believe that product fundraising sales are an important financial resource for America's schools and youth groups, and they're willing to help.

"Fundraising can be a positive aspect of school life," said Kathleen Berlino, principal of a K-8 Catholic school in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. "Parents, teachers, the principal and others involved in school fundraising all want the same thing - to give children what they need for a well-rounded, quality education."

Of course, there is a flip side. Among Americans who supported a school fundraiser, more than half (54%) only purchased products two times or less. And, among parents who do not support product fundraising programs at all, about a quarter say the reason is: schools and/or youth groups run too many fundraising programs and events.

Decrease the Noise Factor: Evaluate, Eliminate, Focus

When it comes to fundraising at schools, the motto should be "do a few and do them well." Too many fundraisers create burnout - with volunteers, parents, students and teachers. Parents and other supporters are already being tapped by the local little league, football teams and Girl Scouts, not to mention the plethora fundraising requests coming from schools. As fundraising of all types becomes more prevalent, the last thing your group wants to do is create more noise in the fundraising traffic jam.

Fundraising experts recommend that to reduce the noise factor organizations should focus on fundraising programs that make the most money - while limiting the time-commitment from volunteers. Organizations considering school-wide programs in particular should forego adding too many fundraisers to the school calendar. Make a promise to parents that if everyone participates in the fall fundraiser, the school will not hold another fundraising event this year. And be true to your word; if your school gets 100% participation, consider canceling other fundraisers that are less effective. Parents will appreciate the reduction in fundraising noise coming from your school and will be more likely to support next year's fundraiser.

School groups can get a maximum return by doing one or two fundraisers per year - and doing them well. Besides, it's not easy to organize, execute and promote five or six fundraisers in nine months. It's easier to get parents, students, teachers and volunteers excited and willing to participate if they know ahead of time that they'll only be asked to support one or two fundraisers each school year.

Tips for Reducing the Noise Factor

  • Focus on fundraisers that make the most money - while limiting time commitment from volunteers. Organizations considering school-wide programs in particular should forego adding too many fundraisers to the school calendar.

  • Establish a clear, financial goal - before evaluating products, programs, etc. Knowing how much money you need to raise will help make these decisions easier.

  • Plan early and keep a fundraising calendar - if the school or community has a planning calendar, be sure your event is listed. Stagger fundraising activities to avoid competing with other groups. And if your school or group is considering a product sale, be sure to work with a reputable company.


About the Author:

This article is from the Fall 2007 issue of the Fundraising Edge, an online publication of the Association of Fund Raisers and Direct Sellers and is reprinted with permission. Visit their web site at for more information and a look at the complete issues of the Fundraising Edge.

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