School Fundraising: A Growing Necessity

School budgets are as tight as ever, and educators are turning to every possible source for money. This includes school fundraising, once strictly the province of after-school programs, athletics and field trips.

Indeed, school fundraising has become a crutch for many schools. State lawmakers are cutting budgets in a tough economy, and schools are suffering. Parents, teachers and administrators are increasingly relying on school fundraising not only to prop up extracurricular activities but to plug holes in funding for classes and other academic programs.

School fundraising comes in many different forms, some new, some old. Some forms tend to work better than others, and some use student labor more than others. Among the more popular and traditional are bake sales, dinner events, car washes and carnivals.

School Fundraising in the 21st Century: Product Fundraising

But a new kind of school fundraising, maybe the most popular in recent years, is called product fundraising. If you’ve ever bought a box of Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts, you’ve come across a version of product fundraising. In that case the money goes to the Girl Scouts of America. If it went to a school or educational program, it would be an example of school fundraising.

The way product fundraising works is that the parents, teachers or other adults form a non-profit organization to run the project. The group then buys retail products from commercial businesses. The products are sold, usually by students, to adults. Some of the money stays with the non-profit.

There are three varieties of product fundraising. The first, product-in-hand, simply involves the direct selling of products to the public. In pre-sales fundraising, on the other hand, orders are sold to the public and then filled later. The third kind, online, is as simple as it appears: a Web site is set up and used to sell the products.

Product fundraising has boomed in the last decade, and as of 2010 there were more than 1,000 businesses engaged in this type of school fundraising in the United States. Some online companies work with fundraisers to streamline the process. Fundraisers can also use special software to establish Web sites that are then managed by distributors.

Other School Fundraising Avenues

Product fundraising, however, isn’t the only way to successfully raise money for educational programs. Raffles, auctions and similar events are still popular. The donations and prizes used in these events are usually provided by local businesses.

Much of the grunt work of school fundraising is handed off to students, but there are limits. Washing cars, selling baked goods, or calling raffles are all common tasks for schoolchildren, as is selling products. But students’ interaction with adults may be restricted, especially when dealing with product fundraising.

In 1997, an 11-year-old student was murdered while selling products door to door in his neighborhood, without supervision. This crime led many school programs to limit where and to whom children sell products.

On top of increased worries about violent crime, the economy has made school fundraising harder at the same time it has made it more critical. Household incomes are stagnant or shrinking, while school budgets are being slashed. So it’s harder both to raise the money and to live without it.

Mr. Jones posts articles all the time on many different interesting topics.  One of those topics is school fundraising.  For more great info. on school fundraising, check out Signature Fundraising.