Organizing Your School Fundraiser
Plan ahead and have more fun.
By Kimberly Reynolds
Kimberly Reynolds is the author of Fundraising Success and maintains her Web site, Fundraising Ideas for Fundraisers, at: www.fundraiserhelp.com.
Fundraisers are a lot more fun if everything is organized and planned ahead of time. Otherwise, it's chaotic and you miss out on a lot of things that could have contributed to your bottom line. In addition, it's a lot harder to recruit volunteers for your next fundraiser when this one didn't go very smoothly. So, here are some quick fundraising tips:
Determine how much time is needed for each task and plan accordingly. You'll be lost without a well thought out timetable. I can't stress enough how important it is to take the time to write out your plan and then work from it as you go.
Make sure each step has been assessed and the right resources assigned. There is no substitute for preparation. Write everything down once for your annual plan and then follow your path to success.
Every facet needs to be supervised, from publicity to sales to delivery. The chairperson and team leaders should remember to delegate responsibility to each sub-group leader and to maintain a clear vision of what's needed to achieve the goals.
Keep your mind open to the concept of change and ask questions. Your best sources of information are those who are directly interacting with your potential customers along with the experienced veterans of previous fundraisers.
Efficiency gets better results. Review all of your distribution and communication processes. Make sure that all materials reach the right hands in a timely manner.
Maximize your fundraising results by flawlessly executing each step of the process. When something goes wrong (and it will), take corrective action immediately. Be sure to eliminate the root cause to avoid a recurrence.
Decide ahead of time on the best sales contact method. Present that information in the handout materials accompanying each sales package. Have a prepared sales script for your participants to use. Make sure that your sellers know to make a list of prospects and to rehearse their sales pitch several times.
Design your program with the appropriate level of reward for all participants. A little reward can produce a lot of motivation. Be sure to set the initial reward level low enough so that at least 50% of your sales force get a direct reward for meeting the first level sales goal. Group awards will also stimulate additional sales, but not as much as individual rewards.
Choose ahead of time whether your fundraiser will use prepayment with order or collect upon delivery. Pre-payment is better for most fundraisers for many reasons. It eliminates financial risks, simplifies delivery, and eliminates unsold merchandise.
Make sure your organization complies with all federal, state, and local tax regulations. Just because your organization is tax exempt doesn't necessarily mean you don't have to collect and remit state/local sales taxes. For more information, see www.fundraisetaxlaw.org
Collating all the sales results is a time consuming job. If possible, have each group tabulate their results before forwarding their sales orders to the central contact point. Be sure that each order is double-checked for accuracy before it is forwarded.
Be sure to keep a copy of every order sheet and tally list. It greatly simplifies the delivery process and provides a verification source to resolve any discrepancies with both suppliers and customers. Use the copies to check off pre-sorted deliveries.
Placing your order with the supplier is an essential step where any mistakes need to be caught before they become a public relations problem. All information should be reviewed once more before the order is submitted. Attentive suppliers will send you an order verification to doublecheck your quantities and most will list items by seller.
Your supplier will usually expect payment before the order ships to your organization. Verify pricing and totals with your supplier before funds are sent. Avoid discrepancies later by checking all details before signing a contract.
Once your shipment has arrived, organizing the product for delivery is the largest task for most catalog fundraisers. If possible, look for a supplier who will presort your order and provide a computer printout. Otherwise, have all your group leaders pitch in to help sort the merchandise into the individual orders. Never let this task fall to only one or two people.
All deliveries should be timely and error free. Make sure the right delivery expectations are set by your sales organization and then meet them without delay. Pick a supplier who provides advance notification of their delivery to you. Turn your shipment around into sub-group and individual orders quickly.
Ascertain what your suppliers' return policies are before you finalize your choice of suppliers and begin raising funds. Include that information in the sales packet provided to your sales force so that all communications with your customers are accurate. A satisfied customer is a repeat customer.