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Better Fundraising Starts with Brand Management

With school budgets tightening up, fundraising is increasingly important. Before thinking about dollars, it makes sense to evaluate your school's fundraising strategies. Which programs raise the most money and raise your school's visibility in the community? Consider how professional teams tackle this issue: they sell their brand.

By the marketing staff at Wenger Corporation

A powerful brand has a consistent look and spirit. Think of the Nike "swoosh" or the blue star of the Dallas Cowboys. Brand promotion begins with brand management. Select one "brand manager" to guard your brand's consistency. There should be one official school logo, in one set of colors, across all school teams and programs. Establishing a logo database and style guide will help ensure uniformity not only in uniforms, but for all branded items.

Promote your brand by focusing fundraising efforts on wearable logo gear or branded souvenirs, instead of non-branded items like wrapping paper or pizzas. Selling branded items feeds a self-supporting cycle: sales raise funds and the resulting visibility fuels further sales and a growing sense of community spirit. When properly managed, the local high school or college brand can become the community brand, inspiring support even from families without school-age children.

Next, strive for a turnkey program that makes it easy to plug in volunteers with only minimal involvement by paid staff. Keep the inventory manageable and make sure you have something for every budget. For core products, select proven winners like hats, t-shirts, mugs, key chains, etc.

Also, keep in mind that your potential customers are mobile and spread throughout the community. For example, consider the movement of fans at a football game—from pregame tailgating to the ticket booth/ concession areas to their seats. The more satellite retail locations you can offer, or mobile solutions that follow the crowd, the more "face time" you'll have in front of customers.

As your school's brand is embraced by the larger community, you can greatly increase your opportunities by selling at off-campus locations such as festivals, parades and concerts, even outside retail stores.

Effectively managing and marketing your school's brand can create a winning formula for fundraising success.

Gregg Nelson is a senior market manager with Wenger Corporation, Owatonna, Minn., which makes a variety of storage and transport solutions for athletic and educational facilities, including the Mobile Kiosk® mobile retail solution. Visit for more information. is brought to you by a recognized and established name in the school athletics arena, MomentumMedia—publisher of Athletic Management, Coaching Management and Training & Conditioning magazines.