School fundraisers can be overwhelming for parents. Especially for parents with multiple kids in different schools, parents find themselves either buying or selling multiple products or tickets for events to support their child’s schools. All fundraisers are not created equal, especially for stay at home moms or dads who do not have a wide network to sell to. These days, it appears that schools have run out of ideas in having creative fund raisers. Every school, sports org., dance club, etc. always seems to have the stuff.
We recently did a survey across the country on what parents feel are the worst kind of fund raisers and what kind of fund raisers would they really support. The responses from parents were pretty consistent across the board.
Here are fundraisers that received the lowest scores from the parents in our survey. Their reason for the low scores was either because they did not offer anything of value to their child or to them that would have a positive impact short term or long term for the value of their money.
- Weekly pizza lunch specials with sugar drinks (unhealthy)
- Candy bar / Cookie Dough (parents don’t need more chocolate for their kids!) (Unhealthy)
- Fish fry (Unhealthy)
- Bake sales (Unhealthy)
- Wrapping paper (Useless)
- Useless gadgets that never find a use at home and usually break the first time you try to use them. (Useless)
- Books, gift cards, candles etc. (Low value)
- Magazine subscriptions where most of the magazines end up directly in the trash! (Clutter)
- Collecting pledges (low value)
Several schools strongly discourage parents from sending sugary treats with their kid’s lunches. However, they don’t mind hawking sugary candy bars, greasy pizzas and drinks to the kids and the parents as fund raisers.
In our next post, we will share those fund raisers that the parents rated as high on their list. Stay tuned!
Many school fundraisiers are beyond the affordability of parents. As much as a parent would like to contribute and help a school, in a down economy, parents are finding it increasingly difficult to give while meeting their basic necessities. There is always a feeling with the parents that the money given is not being utilized in a way that benefits the school and the parents. Parents do not mind giving, but what is sold by the school as a fund raiser is not a real value add for the parents.
School fundraisers are extremely time consuming and labor intensive to manage. It takes away time for a school to focus on their primary objective of teaching. Its uncomfortable to keep asking parents for money knowing fully well that parents may not be able to afford it.
Schools need to start thinking about fundraisers differently. Parents are more willing to give if they see a direct benefit from the fundraiser, positively impacting them or their child in school. Low cost ticket items are preferred over high cost fundraisers like auctions and dinners, unless the item is of significant value to the parent.
Fundraising products or solutions that would really work well are those that use a school’s resources and the parents time and money wisely to make a difference : Improving the child’s performance, making the parent feel that they are more connected with the child, programs that improve the school’s recognition, saving time and reducing costs for the school, improving parental engagement, reducing the parent’s workload etc.
School fundraising is a two billion dollar market in the United States. Almost every school, whether they are public, private, charter or faith based, has school fundraisers. Due to economic pressures, many schools are now resorting to extensive year-long fundraising to close budget gaps and keep schools and programs from shutting down. However, as the economy continues to lower family incomes and cut into parents’ volunteering time, schools are beginning to find that they aren’t raising as much money as they had in the past.
A survey done by the National Fundraising Association in 2007 determined that on average the most labor-intensive school-wide fundraisers are school carnivals, with an average of 59 volunteers needed. Other labor-intensive fundraisers included auctions (28), “-thons” such as walk-a-thons (22), breakfasts or dinners (17), and raffles (17). By contrast the least labor-intensive fundraisers for schools included product fundraisers (7), direct donations (7), and restaurant nights (6) . Another survey from the same source showed, unsurprisingly, that 71% of parents are “concerned and overwhelmed” about having to support more fundraisers. Right now, many parents don’t find that they get any significant benefits when they donate their time and money to help out with school fundraisers. Free t-shirts and bake-sale glory are nice, but they don’t quite cut it.
Are there any school fundraisers that are of real, long-term value to schools and parents which do not require a significant amount of time or effort? Can schools use their creativity to find fundraisers that reward both schools and parents?