You’ve paid the program fees and written those post-dated cheques. But now comes those pesky papers home: it’s time to fundraise! Whether your school needs a new playground or your daughter’s hockey team needs new goalie equipment, parents are under a lot of pressure to contribute their time, energy, and money to fundraising. Here are some helpful things to consider when making those fundraising asks.
Do create a game plan. Start with the basics. Are you selling a product (Poinsettias, pizzas, a freezer full of plump chickens)? Are you raffling items or services? Are you asking for a donation? Understanding what you’re offering will increase your comfort and confidence when collecting money from others. Be ready to answer some simple questions, like how much profit will go to your school or organization? What is your deadline, and are you willing to deliver? Be realistic about your fundraising goal. Give yourself a target, a timeline, and a tangible approach.
Don’t do a blanket ask. Think about what you’re selling and who might find it useful before sending that group email or making a public Facebook post. If, like many parents, you’re doing several fundraisers throughout the year for different organizations, spread your pleas for support among your potential customer base. Maybe your older neighbors aren’t interested in a soccer team’s casino night, but keep them in mind when those cookie boxes come rolling out. Be aware of ask tolerance. Try not to inundate (and irritate) your friends, family, and co-workers. If you want more, ask less.
Do start early. Start fundraising as early as you can in the year; do not leave it to last minute. Most schools, teams, and organizations hold a bottle drive at some point in their fundraising cycle. This is an easy way for people to contribute to your child’s team or school without forking over cold hard cash. To sweeten the deal, offer to sort and store the bottles yourself.
Don’t go broke. If you’re sure that you’ll use all six copies of that coupon book, or can afford 20 boxes of chocolatey mint cookies, by all means. But don’t break the bank trying to support your child’s road to regionals. There are times when you just can’t participate in every fundraiser. That’s okay. Instead, offer to spend your time as a volunteer or in another organizational role.
Do include your kids. This is an important one. There are many age-appropriate ways to get your kids involved in fundraising. After all, these funds are for their playground, band trips, or team-building activities. If you’re holding a bake sale, have your kids roll the dough. If you’re going door-to-door, have your child don their game-day jersey and ring those bells. Getting your kids involved will help them learn the value of money, manners, and an appreciation for the end result.
Don’t be shy. If you have an exciting new fundraising idea that could raise lots of money, or would like to have a say in how that money is spent, get involved. Decisions are made at parent council or volunteer meetings by people just like you. There’s always room for fresh new voices, and being engaged at the ground level may inspire a bit more passion when it’s time to work that raffle table or haul a wagon full of cookies around the block. Your engagement also sends a great message to your kids about making a difference.
Do give back. While you’re walking door-to-door or standing at a ticket table, remember those in need. Schools, sports clubs, and other organizations are often in fundraising mode from September through June. Put those resources to work by simultaneously collecting items for the Calgary Food Bank or winter jackets for the Salvation Army Coat Drive. This way you can fundraise, feel good, and do good, too.
Shannon is a freelance writer living in Calgary with her husband and three daughters. She is a proud hockey mom and is forbidden from owning a cowbell.
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