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If you’ve ever been a student, teacher, or parent at a public school, you know that they’re notoriously underfunded. They depend on school fundraisers and community support to supplement their limited finances.

So, if you work at a school, how do you successfully raise money and engage the community in new and exciting ways?

We’ll look at four popular fundraisers that can be both lucrative and engaging to help you achieve your fundraising goals and grow support for your school. Let’s get started.

1. Discount Card Sales

When a student, parent, or member of your community buys a discount card, your school receives the money and a local establishment gains a customer. By partnering with local shops and businesses to sell discount cards, your school can bridge the gap between the community and your school.

Discount card fundraisers can make up to a 93% profit, making it one of the most profitable choices in the industry. Because this is such a popular idea for schools, fundraisers have developed a slew of different ways to make your fundraiser stand out.

Here are three common types of discount card fundraisers:

  • Traditional discount card: Traditional discount cards are typically small, plastic, and durable—about the size and feel of a credit card. You might charge $20-$25 dollars per card, which likely includes hundreds of dollars in savings from around 15 local businesses.
  • Scratch card or spinners: Scratch cards and spinners add a unique gamification element to your traditional discount card fundraiser. Instead of purchasing a discount card for a set price, supporters scratch a card or spin a wheel to determine the amount they owe. Then, they receive their coupons!
  • Digital savings: As a modern spin on the traditional fundraising idea, you can choose to sell digital savings memberships to your supporters. These virtual coupon books give donors digital savings to companies like Books-a-Million and IHOP with the added convenience of managing their coupons from their mobile devices.

Discount card fundraisers offer a reasonable compromise between generous donations to your school and opportunities for community members to save. Whereas fundraising events offer an experience, discount card fundraisers give your supporters great discounts in exchange for their support of public education.

2. Charity Auction

According to ABC Fundraising, auctions are popular and low-cost events for nonprofits—and your school can benefit from them, too! These fundraisers allow families and communities to support your school, participate in an exciting event, and, hopefully, receive an appealing item in exchange for their winning bid.

There are essentially three types of fundraising auctions.

  • Live auctions: Live auctions are typically high-energy events with a personable auctioneer who encourages guests to bid on an item in real-time. For school auctions, you might make a popular teacher or principal your auctioneer to really drive engagement and bids through the roof.
  • Silent auctions: At a silent auction, items are placed on display for attendees to browse and bid on at their own leisure. Guests bid anonymously via a bid sheet placed by each item, and the individual with the highest bid at the conclusion of the event gets to purchase the item for their bid amount.
  • Virtual auctions: Virtual auctions transfer the main components of a traditional auction (live or silent) to the digital realm through mobile bidding so that supporters can participate from anywhere. Some auctions combine in-person and virtual features in hybrid events to provide maximum engagement and accessibility.

Solicit donated or discounted auction items from local businesses. When you auction these items, you’ll boost brand recognition for these businesses. Plus, you can save significantly and keep more of the profit from the event for your school.

3. Matching Gift Drive

A matching gift drive leverages corporate philanthropy practices to make any donation you receive go twice as far.

According to Double the Donation’s matching gift statistics, more than 26 million individuals are employed by companies with matching gift programs. That means that more than likely, some of your school’s parents, volunteers, and community members are eligible to have their donations to your school matched by their employer.

Here’s what your matching gift fundraiser will look like:

  1. Supporters make a donation to your school.
  2. They research their eligibility by searching their employer in a matching gift database.
  3. They request a donation match from their employer.
  4. The employer confirms the original donation with your school.
  5. The employer sends in their own matching donation (typically at a 1:1 ratio).

Although every participating employer has its own unique matching gift guidelines, most companies are willing to donate to public schools. That means you’ll likely receive a ton of match-eligible donations, so a matching gift program provides the perfect opportunity to promote matching gifts to your supporters.

4. Event-a-Thon

An event-a-thon is a creative event fundraiser that is often geared toward a specific activity, like dancing, walking, or biking. If you’re looking for a more educational twist for your school fundraiser, read- and spell-a-thons are great options, too.

Regardless of the activity chosen, the event-a-thon process remains largely the same:

  1. Students seek sponsorships in the form of pledges from family and friends, typically “$X per activity completed.”
  2. Students participate in the activity (either on a particular day or over a set time period) and track their progress.
  3. Sponsors make their donations corresponding to their sponsee’s performance in the event.

Pledge fundraisers like these can get the whole community involved, whether as a participant or a sponsor. You can even offer unique prizes and other incentives to motivate students to fundraise to the best of their abilities.

Plus, seemingly small donations (such as a dollar per lap walked or page read) can add up quickly—especially when each participant has multiple sponsors. By using one of the top fundraising platforms for schools, you can organize all the details of your event-a-thon, including pledges.

Any experienced fundraiser knows that school fundraising success all starts with a stellar school-specific fundraising idea—and sometimes that can be the hardest part.

Regardless of the idea you choose for your school, be sure to start planning early and to get your students, faculty, and administrators excited about it. Good luck!

About the Author:

Debbie Salat is the director of fundraising activities and product development at ABC Fundraising(r) – Debbie joined ABC Fundraising(r) in 2010 and is responsible for launching over 6500 fundraising campaigns for schools, churches, youth sports teams and non-profit organizations all across the USA. With over 20 years of fundraising experience, Debbie knows the path to success for fundraisers which she shares with groups on a daily basis so they can achieve their fundraising goals.

Debbie Salat at ABC Fundraising

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