Front page > Power Tools > How-To > Fundraising > Fundraising Basics

For all too many teachers, going back to school means another year of fundraising. While district budgets finance some supplies and equipment, there are often needs that go beyond these small budgets. Whether you need new computer hardware and software, supplies for a new craft corner, or are planning a major field trip, you're going to need cash to get there. When parents just can't dig any deeper into their pockets, fundraising may be the only option.

Step 1: Contact your administration
Taxes may apply and your office should have the details. Plus, you don't want to start down a path only to be shut down over political reasons (like a competition with the PTA.)

Step 2: Put someone in charge
You will need an energetic contact person who can do good PR with students, parents, and faculty and be responsible for collecting money or order forms. They will organize the effort to get the word out about the fundraiser. (See "Your Job as a Contact Person" at right.)

Step 3: Set a goal
If you're working toward a specific purchase or event, determine the amount of money you need to accomplish the task. Include every expense you may encounter in your final total. For instance, make sure to include the purchase of extra cables if you're buying a computer, and don't forget to figure in taxes.

Step 4: List your options
While having a car wash might be an option for bringing in the cash, it's probably not all that feasible if your first graders are the ones doing the washing. Make a list of every possible option you would want to look into. Take into account previous experience as well - if last year's wrapping paper sales flopped, you probably don't want to give it another go.

Step 5: Choose your fundraiser
Take into account the amount of money you need to raise. If you need a large amount of money, a car wash may not be your best option. Put it to a vote, or have the contact person make an informed decision on what will be best for the group. Factors to consider are: number of people available to raise funds, safety (door-to-door is not always an option), and perishablity of product (like candy sales in the summer heat).

Step 6: Set a deadline
Having a deadline for the project is important if you're doing product sales. You will need to have all orders and money collected before you can place a catalog order, or return leftover product in the event of a candy sale.

Step 7: Keep them posted
For the duration of the fundraiser, keep the momentum going with regular updates using graphics like a bar graph to chart your success.

Step 8: Wrapping it up
Deliver ordered goods (if necessary) and total up your profits. Compare your totals with your goal and determine whether or not there is a need for more fundraising if you fall short, or how to spend your surplus if you've met with success.

Some options to consider:

  • bake sales
  • car washes
  • candy sales
  • flower & bulb sales
  • magazine subscriptions
  • catalog items such as wrapping paper, holiday gifts, books
  • personalized items for your school such as t-shirts, school supplies, car tags, key chains, spirit items

Options Online: Conduct your own searches to find more fundraising options for your group. Check out the companies below to get you started:

  • sells personalized front auto tags with your school's name and mascot (or other custom information.) They offer free artwork upon request and supply you with a free webpage to help spread the word. Profit is often near 50%.
  • offers a wide variety of products and a 5% return of your gross sales. All of their products may be viewed online, and they offer free fliers and a free webpage to promote the fundraiser.
  • supplies the good old standbys: lollipops, sports keychains, cookie dough, and other brochure sales. They also offer a profit of 50%.
  • helps you organize magazine sales. (Hey, everyone buys magazines!) A list of titles is available at their site.


Your Job as a Contact Person

Getting students motivated can be one of the most challenging parts of the job. Keeping them excited means keeping them informed and involved.

Let students know exactly what the profits will be used for. This gives them something tanglible to work for.

Set overall goals as well as individual goals. Offer incentives and rewards for sales and involvement. A group party at the end of the fundraiser is often a good way to reward everyone, and keeps those who maybe don't win the title of "Best Salesperson" from being left out.