School budgets are tightening almost everywhere, and money is hard to find which is why more and more educators and parents are turning to school fundraising as a way not only to fund after-school programs but to plug holes in educational funding.
Extracurricular programs, athletic programs, field trips and other out-of-school activities have traditionally been the beneficiaries of school fundraising. But in a tight economy, with politicians cutting educational budgets, teachers, administrators and parents are turning to school fundraising to keep classes and even entire academic programs running.
Many different methods are used in school fundraising, some old, some new. Some tend to be more successful than others, while some rely on student labor and involvement more than others. They can include everything from dinner events and bake sales to car washes and carnivals.
School fundraising and product fundraising
But perhaps the most popular form of school fundraising is newer than these more traditional approaches. It's called product fundraising, and if you've ever bought Girl Scout cookies, you've come across it. There it's used to benefit the Girls Scouts of America; when it's used to benefit a school or extracurricular program, it's a type of school fundraising.
Product fundraising is a very simple concept. The non-profit organization that is performing the school fundraising (be it a parent group, a teacher group or some other organization) buys products from a commercial business and sells them to the public, often using students as sales people. The non-profit keeps some of the profits.
Product fundraising can be done in one of three ways. Online fundraising simply involves the use of a Web page to sell products. Product-in-hand fundraising is the direct sale of the products by students to the public. Pre-sales fundraising, meanwhile, involves the sale of orders to the public; the orders are later filled by students.
Product fundraising is a booming business, with more than 1,000 such companies in the United States as of 2010. There are online businesses that can help streamline the fundraising process for parents and educators. And special software allows organizations to set up Web sites managed by distributors, who are also responsible for shipping and customer service.
More traditional types of school fundraising
But many other types of school fundraising can be very successful at raising money. Auctions, raffles and similar events are still used frequently as fundraisers. Prizes and donations at these kinds of events typically come from local business owners.
Students usually carry the grunt work of school fundraising, but within limits. Though schoolchildren may wash cares, sell baked goods, or staff raffles, they may have restricted or monitored involvement with adults, especially when it comes to product fundraising.
This is a change from earlier years, due largely to incidents of violent crime. An 11-year-old boy was murdered selling products in his neighborhood in 1997, and as a result, children sell less frequently to adults they don't already know.
Crime isn't the only problem for product fundraising and other types of school fundraising. In a rough economy, household incomes are tightening at the same time school budgets are shrinking. That means it has become harder to raise money at the same time the money has become that much more critical.
About the author: Brandon researches and writes articles on different subjects. One subject he has written about quite a bit is the subject of school fundraisers.