Now that school is in session, parents are bracing for the inevitable onslaught of cookie dough, candle and wrapping paper catalogs to help raise money for their child’s school.
Facing the same old tired school fundraisers may turn off some, but in tough economic times, schools rely more than ever on support from parent clubs and contributors.
Fundraising experts say schools need to step up creativity to keep donors motivated. Here is a resource guide school staffs and parent clubs can use all school year:
"One way to keep fresh ideas coming is to involve parents from the beginning so they have ownership from the inception of an idea," says Shannon Reardon, director of marketing at Miami Country Day School.
Parents, because they are out in the field talking to other moms and dads, are the logical choice to bring in feedback about what works and what doesn’t, she said.
Making students an integral part of a fundraiser, such as having them create art or provide musical entertainment, usually makes for a more successful event than selling a store-bought item.
"It connects and involves students and parents, which makes them more vested in the process," Reardon said.
INVOLVE THE COMMUNITY
Local businesses have a vested interest in your school – you are their potential customers. Why not strengthen that bond? American Heritage School in Plantation recruits local merchants to sell wares at its holiday boutique each year. "This event is not just about fundraising, but about uniting community, parents and schools," said Kat Silverglate, president of the Upper School’s Parent-Teacher Organization.
RECRUIT NEW BUSINESSES
If a new business opens in your neighborhood, recruit them to be a school partner. Ask them to host a school night – you get people from your school to their business, and they give you 10 percent of the profits. Enlist faculty as servers or hostesses to make it more fun.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREEBIES
Be sure parents are aware of rewards programs in the community that can benefit your school.• SpendforED’s EDBUCK promotion: Gives you dollars-off coupons at area merchants, such as Navarro’s Discount Pharmacy, when you make a donation to a Miami-Dade County Public School.
• Target Take Charge of Education: Gives your school 1 percent back of the amount charged on a Target credit card.
• Office Depot: Gives your school 5 percent of your purchases in merchandise credit when you sign up for its Back to School program.
• Box Tops for Education, Campbell Soup Labels for Education and similar programs earn money for your school by turning in box tops or labels from items you purchase.
SOME CREATIVE IDEAS• Frozen Turkey Bowling: What can be more fun than rolling a frozen turkey down a school hallway, aiming to knock out a bowling lane of empty 2-liter bottles? Jennifer Melendez, assistant principal at The Sagemont Upper School in Weston, said students paid a dollar a frame to bowl in this wacky event. High scorers earned prizes like a free homework pass. • Cookbook: Here’s a way to create a legacy and make some dough. Collect recipes from students, staff and alumni, and bind them together to make a schoolbook. At Miami Country Day school, organizers created a hardbound book that can be sold to new families each year. • Jog-a-thon: Have kids collect pledges for each lap they run. At the track, parents give students a different colored stick for each completed lap. Andi Fuentes of Gulliver Schools in Pinecrest said the event has been so successful they are trying their first swim-a-thon this year. • Kiss-a-Pig: If your student body has a farmer in its ranks, try a Kiss-a-Pig fund-raiser. At The Sagemont School in Weston, students "voted" for the faculty or staff member they wanted to see kissing a pig by stuffing money into their personalized collection jars. The top three money-earners had to smooch a pig, brought in from a student’s farm. A student assembly was held to witness the deed.
• Holiday Boutique: American Heritage School in Plantation recruited outside vendors to bring in jewelry, candles, clothing, etc. for its event, held on a school day. Raffle tickets were sold for donated prizes, such as a prom package that included a limousine rental, manicure and hair style. The school’s Fine Arts department provided student entertainment continuously throughout the day. "It’s fun and it keeps a steady influx of people," Upper School PTO President Kat Silvergate says. "Parents come in and see their kids perform. While they’re there, they shop and get a bite to eat."
• Pie in the Face: The Math Honor Society at The Sagemont School in Weston held a Pie in the Face fund-raiser to celebrate Pi Day, March 14. Club members sold raffle tickets to students. Winning ticket holders got to stuff a pie in the face of the faculty/staff member of their choice, who donned garbage bags and goggles for the occasion.