Who Raises Money and Why?
All schools and types of schools
Sometimes fundraisers are accused of “taking advantage” or of “exploiting” school children to sell products. When I hear that, I usually respond with,
“It would be nice if the band director or club sponsor could go to the school superintendent and school board and receive all the funds to do what they want. If that were the case, I would be out of business. Similarly, if the group wanting to raise money could go directly to the public and ask for donations, where they would get to keep 100% of the money, and it worked – I would be out of business. People will pay $10 for a $5 item when they know that the other $5 is going to a worthy cause, but they will not hand you a $5 donation.”
In the same way that we need realtors to help us sell our homes, and lawyers to help us write our wills, and professionals to teach our children (although that becomes increasingly debatable), the best way for groups to raise large amounts of money in the least amount of time with the smallest amount of effort – is through product fundraising and we are the professionals in this business.
Know that, in addition to the public schools, there are private and religious schools. For example, in a local community, there is a Lutheran School Corporation, a Catholic School Corporation, a Jewish School, several Christian Schools and some private high academic schools that are not affiliated with a church.
Following is an example of the types of groups that raise funds and some of the reasons they do.
Parent Groups (PTO / PTA / PTL, etc). Elementary Schools probably have the largest organized parent groups. Be careful not to mis-use the labels, however. The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is a national organization into which the local groups must pay to belong. Schools who don’t want to pay those fees will use other names, such as Parent Teacher Organization, Parent Teacher League, etc. If you go into a school with an organized PTA and ask for the PTO sponsor, you already have the first strike against you. Parent groups want to provide additional Playground equipment, Computers and educational software, Sports equipment for teams and recess breaks, Money for classroom teachers to use, Field trips, Special events, assemblies, etc.
5th/6th Grade Classes. For class trips or outdoor education
Band / Choir. Both need more than budgets will allow. Elementary School bands get third generation hand-me-downs from the high school and desperately need new equipment. They seldom have much, if any, of an instrument budget. Both can benefit from electronic keyboards to which they can connect computer equipment and specialized software to help them write, arrange and transpose music. Often times, you can coordinate a combined effort from the Music Depart.
Art Department. Just like the band, art departments in Elementary School are usually under-equipped to provide the best education.
Library. Librarians want to expand resources beyond their meager allotment for books and add computer equipment, software, internet access and more.
Student Council. Their first experience at government, Student Councils in an elementary school will want to add a flag pole, put up a new school sign, decorate the cafeteria or provide new music for the library. They may want to organize an environmental campaign for which they need to make posters or advertise.
Principal / Faculty. I had a principal tell me once that he couldn’t buy a light bulb for a movie projector without going to the school board because it wasn’t a budget item. It is indeed a luxury to have money that they can use at their discretion without the state board of accounts or the school board of education needing to watch and approve their every move. Sometimes they will buy staff shirts to build school spirit, purchase incentives to use to reward desired behavior or enable teachers to not have to spend the average hundreds out of their pockets that school teachers generally do just to have what they need for their classes.
Parent Group / School-wide sale. Most Middle Schools have a parent group, but they are generally not as organized or enthusiastic as the Elementary schools. In most of the middle schools in my area, an Assistant Principal is generally in charge of selecting the company and the project and he/she may solicit volunteer help from some active parents. In a school-wide sale, often the overall funds raised are divided among the Music Department for band and choir, the Athletic Department for uniforms and equipment, and for general school projects such as assembly programs, special speakers, field trips and more.
Clubs. (See high school list).
There are very few high schools that do successful school-wide fundraisers. The universal complaint is that there are too many groups within the high school conducting fundraisers and one theoretical solution would be to have one overall sale and divide the profits among the groups needing funds.
There are multiple problems with most school-wide fundraisers in a high school. First, there are students involved in multiple groups and it becomes impossible to divide the profits. For example, the cheerleader is also in the band, the choir and the Junior Class. She will not sell 4x the volume just because it is a single sale.
Another problem is low participation. Especially with the expense of distributing product brochures, the loss of a relatively high percentage of students who will not participate negate the potential profit of conducting the sale.
Clubs / Classes.
Freshman class (class fund, homecoming parade, future Prom)
Prom committee (often times the junior class)
Band (Marching, Concert, Jazz, etc)
Choir (also show choir)
Junior Class (Prom)
Senior Class (Trips / School Gift)
Sports Teams / Booster Clubs
Football, boys & girls JV and Varsity basketball, baseball, softball, cross country, track, soccer, tennis, swim, archery, etc
FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America)
DECA (Distribution Education Clubs of America)
VICA (Vocational & Industrial Clubs of America)
Drill Team / Pom-pom squads
Student Government (STUCO)
FFA (Future Farmers of America)
National Honor Society
FHA/HERO (Future Homemakers of America / Home Economic Related Occupations)
HOSA (Health Occupations)
Foreign Language Departments (Spanish, French, German, etc)
Youth Sports Groups
Consider both the league wide projects and also individual teams. When looking for sports leagues, be careful what you ask for because you may be limiting your results. For example, if you go into a small town and ask who is in charge of the Little League®, you may be told that they don’t have “Little League”. Thinking there is no baseball, you leave town when.
I live in a community with a population of about 18,000, with an 800 member Summer Baseball league, a 400-member PAL Club (Police Athletic League), and a 200-member YMCA league. There is also a Girls Softball League and a Church Softball league. Then, each of the small towns around Huntington County (Bippus, Roanoke, Andrews, Warren, Clear Creek) each have their own leagues with select traveling teams that compete in the larger county league, but Huntington does NOT have a Little League®.
“If a town has a flashing light, even if it has no school, it has a league.”
Why so many baseball leagues. The main league is very competitive and only the best get in. The Police Athletic League waits to see who doesn’t make the main league and then they provide opportunity for anyone who wants to play. The YMCA / Boys & Girls Clubs will often provide learning opportunities that de-emphasize the winning/competitive aspect in hopes of encourage children who might be athletic-ability-challenged to have an opportunity to learn and have fun.
Cheerleaders. (Often there are multiple squads within a school). Cheerleader Camp is a common reason, plus uniforms and school spirit items (throw footballs into the crowd at half-time, for example).
Hockey. Equipment is expensive and also facility rental.
Baseball. Tee-ball, Coach’s Pitch, Summer Baseball, Little League, PAL Club, YMCA, Boys Club, Pony League, etc. Girls / Boys. Referees, equipment and lighted fields are at the top of the list.
Football. Football is one of the most expensive in terms of equipment. It can cost several hundred dollars to equip each player.
Soccer. Soccer is sometimes harder to get because their expenses are relatively less. T-shirts for uniforms and a few balls can a league make.
Volleyball. Nets, equipment, balls, uniforms, facility rental.
Single parents need child care so they can work. And, increasingly, two-parent families have both parents working. As a result, the Day Care business is alive and thriving.
For Profit Day Cares are less likely to conduct fundraising. Parents who send children here generally pay a premium price for the care.
Church & Ministry Day Cares, on the other hand, are prime for fundraising. Many churches offer Child Care as a ministry. Because they are trying to help those who really can’t afford the for-profit centers, tuition is low. Because tuition is lower, there is also less available to provide for playground equipment, toys, books and educational materials. Also, many need help to better pay staff, provide transportation and more.
Scouts (Boys, Girls, Cubs, Brownies). Boy Scouts sell popcorn and Girl Scouts sell cookies. For many troops, those are mandatory, but the troop makes very little on those mandatory sales. Once those are conducted, most individual troops can conduct their own local fundraiser. The motivation to do so is usually the higher profit they can make when they are not also funding the national organization.
Boys Clubs / Girls Clubs. Often, these groups are providing services for inner city, lower income children and can’t charge what it actually costs to run the facility. They need additional funds for equipment, and for scholarship to help get needy children to camp. Also, they typically have basketball, swimming, soccer, etc league opportunities.
So Why do they need YOU?