4 Best Practices for Elementary School Fundraisers

Published on 11 Jun 2024 by Auctria

Fundraisers bring in precious revenue essential to every elementary school’s programming. With these crucial funds, you can fulfill your school’s mission of delivering stellar educational experiences and key opportunities to students. You need a thoughtful, comprehensive fundraising strategy to ensure you receive the support your school needs.

From engaging donors to streamlining event planning to attracting greater funding, the right techniques can put your goals well within your reach. In this elementary school fundraising crash course, we’ll go over some of the best methods to completely revitalize your fundraising. Whether you’re hosting a live auction or launching a campaign kickoff, these tips will help you pull in the funds you need to help your students thrive.

1. Leverage Your Online Platforms

Your school website and social media accounts are some of the greatest fundraising tools at your disposal. From taking advantage of free advertising to engaging online donors, here are just a few ways you should use your online platforms to take your fundraising to the next level:

Promotion and Marketing

Your website is usually the first place students, parents, and community members will go for information on your programming and events. Therefore, take the time to promote your fundraising initiatives across the major areas of your website. For example, you might include information about upcoming fundraisers at the beginning of blog posts or put event information at the top of your homepage as a temporary “spotlight” feature.

Furthermore, your social media channels are an entirely free marketing tool! They allow you to creatively connect with your audience, announce upcoming events with fun graphics or taglines, and diversify your online marketing efforts.

Q&A Portals and Information Resources

Parents or other community members often need further clarification on your fundraising events, especially if they’re new to your school. Include a frequently asked question widget and other resources for each event on your website. Make these tools easy to see and simple to navigate so that any user can quickly find the answers they need.

And, don’t forget to answer questions posed in both your website’s Q&A portal and the comments on your social media posts. That way, you’ll ensure event attendees have all the information they need to have a great experience at your elementary school’s fundraiser!

Engagement and Event Management.

Your online software solutions can be used for more than just event planning. They’re also valuable tools to manage fundraising events and engage your attendees. Not only can you broadcast recordings of live events on your site and social media to reach a larger audience, but you can also create a portal to host virtual and hybrid event fundraisers!

With the right event management software, you can seamlessly integrate your event strategies into your website, allowing you to launch and manage all kinds of events right on your platform.

2. Reach Out to the Local Community

Your community can help you through every step of the fundraising process and maximize your operations in ways you might not have imagined. Consider these community outreach strategies when planning your next fundraiser:

Recruit Volunteers

Administrators, faculty and staff, and parents usually carry out your elementary school’s fundraising. However, you might be surprised how many community volunteers would jump at the chance to support their local school systems and provide a leg up at fundraising events.

To recruit volunteers from the local community, send promotional materials about opportunities to students and parents. If enough student volunteers get involved, teachers might even be encouraged to throw mini-celebrations or game days. You may also provide merchandise to volunteers as a reward, such as a T-shirt branded to your school.

Take your efforts a step further by reaching out to local ministries, recreation agencies, and other volunteer hot spots to maximize support and bring the community together under your cause.

Perform Prospect Research

According to Double the Donation’s guide, prospect screening is the process of running a wealth background check that allows you to identify your donors’ giving potential. In particular, you’ll look at:

  • Past giving
  • Wealth markers
  • Business affiliations
  • Philanthropic tendencies

Performing wealth screenings on parents, guardians, and key community stakeholders will allow you to make more informed projections for how your fundraising efforts might perform. It’ll also help you determine to whom you should most heavily promote these events and what types of messages your most generous donors would be most receptive to.

Partner with Local Organizations

Gathering funding and increasing the reach of your school event is a big challenge to face alone. That’s why partnering with other organizations in your community is a good idea!

Scout local nonprofits and community organizations in your area that might be a good fit for a joint fundraising project. You can also begin with other schools in your district and state. These partnerships allow you to tap into the other organization’s audience to increase event attendance.

Additionally, partner with businesses by soliciting sponsorships from them. Look for corporations that operate in the education industry, share your target audience, have a history of corporate giving, or combine these characteristics. These partnerships can considerably boost your event budget and help you meet your revenue goals, making your event one of your most profitable fundraisers yet.

3. Pick the Right Fundraising Event

Your event requires more than an engaging marketing campaign and a fleet of excited volunteers. To ensure success, you must select a fundraising idea that is simple and easy for your young students to participate in, yet engaging enough for adults and older participants to enjoy.

Here are a few creative elementary school fundraising ideas to get you started in your brainstorming efforts:

  • Shoe drive fundraisers. This idea is an easy and cost-effective way to engage donors and gather funds for your elementary school by encouraging locals to donate their gently worn, new and used shoes to your drive. Participants will be glad to be rid of their unwanted possessions and pleased to learn they don’t need to spend a cent to support your school. They just need to drop off their items at a designated collection point, and your fundraising coordinator handles the rest.

  • Auctions and raffles. Auctions are considered one of the most lucrative fundraising events, with a high earning potential if the right auction items are provided. For this event, we heavily recommend that you segment, study, and even poll your school and local area for products that attendees might like. You could assemble gift baskets with a mix of items for parents and children to engage both audiences. Once items get donated by your sponsors or community partners, these events become relatively easy to carry out, especially if you use dedicated auction software to streamline the process.

  • Walk-a-thons. While 5Ks may be an extremely popular fundraising initiative for high schools and company programs, they might not be as well-suited for elementary school students. A great alternative is a school walk-a-thon. These fundraisers can happen at any time of year, with dozens of different themes and possible locations to choose from, and participants will feel encouraged to participate as much as possible to maximize the pledges they’ve received for each mile they complete. These events are also a great source of additional revenue and promotion through t-shirt and merchandise sales

For even more great fundraising ideas, their cost, and their earning potential, Funds2Orgs’s list is a great place to start researching event programming ideas that will generate the support your school needs for this year and beyond.

4. Thank Donors After the Fundraiser

Your work isn’t over after your event’s conclusion—you still need to complete your donor stewardship efforts. For fundraising events, that generally means sending thank-you messages to all those who attended and supported your school.

Begin by sending email messages to your donors. Thank them for their contributions and personalize the message by including the exact amount they donated. Emphasize how their gift will help your school, and include photos of your students so that they understand the impact they’re making.

Aside from donors, you should also follow up with messages to sponsors, volunteers, and other attendees. Show your appreciation for their efforts and strengthen your relationship by inviting them to other events or to connect with your school in another way. For example, you may invite sponsors to an upcoming VIP gala and auction event. And, you might send a list of future volunteer opportunities to volunteers and attendees to generate interest in getting or staying involved.

Parents, teachers, and administrators can feel pressure to provide worthwhile, personalized, and engaging school programming, especially when young children are involved. Without the proper funding, school systems can’t provide the rich, fun, and valuable opportunities and services parents want for their children.

However, there’s no need to struggle anymore. With these techniques, you’ll be able to navigate fundraising challenges smoothly and emerge with a stronger and more successful strategy than ever before.

Special thanks to Wayne Elsey for sharing his expert advice. Wayne is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals, and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations.