school bus with trees and sky

by Element5 Digital, Unsplash

Volunteering to help organize a school fundraiser is one thing: knowing how to do it is another. It might seem straightforward and intuitive until suddenly it’s 10PM on a school night the week of the event and you don’t have a quarter of the donations you need to hit your goal. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, administrator, or some other helpful person, we’ve got tips to help you promote your school fundraising event so that you can get help from other volunteers, net more donations, and set up future events for success (even if you’re not in charge of them).

Take Advantage of Every Channel Available to You

colored pencils arranged by height and color

by Tamanna Rumee, Unsplash

Sure, you plan to email the school’s email lists and post to the local parent groups on Facebook, but are there other channels you might have forgotten? It pays to cast a wide net when you’re promoting fundraisers: not everyone will be paying attention to each type of communication they receive. If you use every channel at your disposal, you’ll be able to reach people where they are. Below are all the usual marketing channels and some you may not be as familiar with.

The School’s Website

If possible, see to it that your fundraiser gets a page on the school website. If it’s possible, create a small website for the fundraiser and ask the school’s web administrator to post the link to it on the school’s homepage.

Fliers: Mailed, Sent Home, Posted Locally

We’re mentioning fliers early because they can help with other channels too. If you’re designing a sharp looking flier, you’ll also want to create some smaller, simpler versions that can be posted on social media. Try to make your flier both eye-catching and informative. Mail your fliers out, send them home in kids’ backpacks, or hang them in local restaurants and businesses to drum up interest.

Social Media: Yours, the School’s, the Community’s

Make sure you (or the admin in charge of the accounts) posts about your fundraiser on the school’s social media channels. Additionally, ask teachers and parents (and perhaps students, depending on their age) to share the fundraising link on their pages as well. Don’t forget community pages like parent or neighborhood groups.

Plan to post more than once about your fundraiser: the closer you get, the more you should post. Try to use different formats: text post, reels, etc.

Email Lists and/or the School Newsletter

If it’s allowed, send out emails to the faculty, staff, and families of all your students. If you aren’t in a position to do so, ask if school administrators can include your fundraiser information in regular communications, like the school’s newsletter or calendar.

In-School Announcements

Even in this day of smartphones schools still make daily announcements over their PA systems. Ask to have a moment of the announcements time, or to have your fundraiser mentioned (early and regularly) by the person who does the announcements.

Local Papers, Radio, and TV

The thought of appealing to local papers or stations can be intimidating, but they want to hear from you! Even if one doesn’t decide to give you space or airtime for free, you might be able to ask for a discounted ad.

School Text Messaging Systems

If your school is capable of sending mass texts to students and/or their families, ask if this is an option for your fundraiser. It might not be allowed, but it’s worth asking, especially if your fundraiser is for something that everyone in the school can use/needs (tablets, a new gym, or a new playground, etc.)

Plan to Promote Before, But Also During and After

blacktop hopscotch

by Jon Tyson, Unsplash

Promoting a school fundraiser involves a lot of upfront marketing, of course, but you should also document and post during your event, and send out messages after it, as well.

Getting Volunteers and Getting Started

Successful fundraisers are rarely one-person shows. It takes a lot of hands to make live events and even virtual ones happen. If you need help, part of your early promotion efforts should be focused on getting more volunteers to sign up.

Start getting the word out about your event as early as possible: especially if it’s a live event, or ends in one. This allows people to reserve time in their busy schedules.

Hyping the Event

Make your promotion materials clear about the practical details (where, when, etc.) but also start telling stories about your fundraising goal. Are you trying to fund a team, club, or class trip? Share stories from previous ones. Working towards a renovation of a particular classroom or part of the school? Show what it looked like back in the day, and explain why each generation of students deserves the best environment.

Documenting the Event

If your fundraiser includes a live event like an auction, party, concert, or faire, designate official documenters who will share pictures and videos as it’s happening. Even if you don’t get more people to hop off their couches and come down to the school or venue, you’ll be able to use these images in future campaigns, and in your communications to donors.

Thanking Volunteers, Donors, and Showing Successes

After your event, you’ll (hopefully) have a lot of donors to thank for their generosity. You might be exhausted after your event but thank you notes (specific or general, mailed or emailed) will go a long way to cementing the worthiness of your cause in your donors’ minds. Not only that, but you’ll want to thank volunteers and anyone else who helped as well. 

Be sure to highlight particularly successful moments during your fundraiser. Perhaps describe a moment when bidding started to heat up on a popular item, or share pictures of families having fun at the carnival. Best of all would be the moment you hit your fundraising goal. But even if you didn’t, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate everyone’s hard work anyway.

Pass Your Learnings On

The nature of schools—and their teams, clubs, infrastructure, etc.—is that they will continue to need fundraisers even though their student body, and associate parent volunteers, will refresh every few years. Even if you’re a teacher or administrator, you might change positions, coach a different team, or simply not want to be in charge of the same fundraiser every year. Document what worked and what didn’t for you and your team, make sure your files live somewhere accessible or get passed on to someone who can use them.

By promoting your school fundraiser on every channel available to you, before, during, and after your event, you can help ensure that you hit your fundraising goals. Tell everyone you can about those candy sales, silent auctions, bake sales, donation drives, and beyond in order to get the best for your school’s students.