August 24, 2009

Back to school: No brainer fundraisers

Karin Piper/Charter Schools Examiner

Economic challenges are facing our schools in multitude of ways including reduced funding, budget cuts––and less income from fundraisers.

Education providers may be counting on its families more than ever to step up monetary contributions, but that may be overly optimistic this year.

Many families are living the same frugal financial reality as the organizations they wish to support, willingness to contribute does not always equal ability to do so.
We are not yet out of August, and doorbells are already ringing hot from pint-sized sales people. Coupon books, frozen pastries and gourmet popcorn have already been pitched, sold and rejected.

It was the uniform-clad popcorn salesman who got me thinking. I didn’t realize that he had knocked on the door more than once, until I opened the door, and halfway scared the kid to death.

“Uhm…I rang twice because your garage door is open,” he explained. Without flinching he broke into a well prepared spiel about helping out his troop so that he would have a chance to go to camp this year. He skillfully displayed the glossy brochure with specialty popcorn and closed the sale by asking for my business. While I was digging through my purse for my checkbook to buy the $10 basic tin, he shared that if he sells $175 worth of popcorn, his family does not need to pay for his camping trip.

“What if you don’t make your sales goal?” I asked. I should probably add that this was not the first year I’ve bought something from this troopster, so I’m not that really a creepy stranger.

He looked at his sneakers and replied:

“My mom says we’ll figure something out.”

So what are schools, and other non-profit organizations that rely on donations, to do in a tough economy? What kind of money raising activites are not met with blinds pulled and unanswered doors, like it’s past 8 o’clock on Halloween eve?
Some schools are turning to less traditional fundraisers. These income boosters are what’s called the “no-brainer fundraisers.” What fundraiser is a no-brainer? The kind that do not ask supports for anything beyond their ordinary behaviour or purchases. For example: