Sunday, September 30, 2007

Seth Godin makes me feel good about starting this blog

I'm already excited about sharing school fundraising success stories via this blog spun off from my new FUNdraising book, but today's post by one of my favorite bloggers underscores why the concept makes sense for both me as a writer and you as a reader:

"The most effective marketing use of blogs seems to be when the... marketer uses the blog as an opportunity not to sell a product, but to attract people who are in the right mindset. ... the very same people who need his product... Attract people in trouble-->Help solve their problems-->Build your reputation-->Sales happen."

In other words, you come here because you need solutions to your school fundraising needs. If the blog helps meet those needs, you might just go ahead and buy the book for more in-depth assistance.

Makes sense (and potentially cents) to me. Better yet, it provides me with a strong incentive to give you the kind of useful content that turns this site into a trusted source of information for you.

I also took Seth's advice and created a SquidWho lens complete with a school FUNdraising poll.

Student declares war on unwanted sales drives

The Dallas Morning News publishes an op-ed piece by a high school student who taps into the frustration so many people in the school community feel about old-style fundraisers where kids become a cog in a corporate sales machine in exchange for a chance at prizes like limo rides:

"Between selling magazines, books and candles, I have seen it all. Or, should I say, sold it all? I am one of the many manipulators haunting our streets today. I use tactics such as sweetness, vulnerability and the perfect smile to get just what I want – your cash. In the blink of an eye, I have your money and have ordered the 25 magazines that you never really knew you wanted.

"The companies behind these fundraisers tinker with the minds of their sales force. No longer is this child little Bobby from down the street. He has been programmed.

"We have all been programmed. The only thing running through your sweet child's mind is that prized limo trip, which is only obtainable by selling those 40 candles."

Her solution: Come up with creative, community-based fundraisers that deliver fun times and needed services.

It's only a matter of time before the FUNdraising approach sweeps the nation.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gearing up for an educational fundraiser

Business students at Addison Trail High in Addison, Illinois, learn while they earn money for their schools with an annual auto show, GateHouse News Service reports:

“'As part of the program, students will write a paper on their experience of organizing the car show, and the entries are then tuned into the DECA state conference next March,' [teacher Joe] Mahoney said. 'A student who has the best paper then moves on to the national tournament.' ...

"Open to junior and senior students, DECA members and officers gain valuable experience by coordinating the arrangements of and developing marketing plans for fundraising events such as the car show, school officials said."

What kind of educational components do you build into your school fundraisers?

Friday, September 28, 2007

One key to breaking through fundraising fatigue

A recent piece in the Star-Gazette amplifies one of the points in the FUNdraising manifesto posted below. How do you break through fundraising fatigue on the part of donors?

"'Tell parents why you're raising money,' says [Tim] Sullivan [president of PTO Today]. 'It's not about $2,000 or $10,000. It's about the new playground, field trips, children's first exposure to the theater or musical events. Be accountable. Show what you did with last year's money. Include pictures of smiling kids taking last year's field trip on your fundraising poster.'

"The reality is that fundraising often provides essential funds for the extras that turn schools from piles of bricks into magical places of discovery and learning and community, says Sullivan: 'When you fail to make that connection, you've got a recipe for parents getting really tired of fundraising.'"

Are you making that connection as well as you could?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A school FUNdraising manifesto

Your event just might be a FUNdraiser if it does one or more of the following things:
  • Offers an experience so compelling people would show up even if it wasn’t in support of a good cause.
  • Enhances the cultural life of the overall community.
  • Provides a service that’s both needed and desired.
  • Improves the school experience of student participants.
  • Leaves attendees with a smile and a good memory.
  • Puts a creative twist on a classic fundraising idea.
  • Showcases the school community’s unique talents.
  • Clearly explains to donors where their money will go.
  • Generates enthusiastic local media coverage.
  • Becomes a popular (and lucrative) annual happening.
  • Helps school families spend more enjoyable time together instead of burdening them with dreaded sales chores.
  • Raises the school’s positive profile among people not directly tied to the institution, thus expanding its base of support.
  • Taps into the increasing number of Web funding sources for pain-free program support.

Put the FUN back in school fundraising!

This blog is an outgrowth of my new book, FUNdraising: 50 Proven Strategies for Successful School Fundraisers. My goal with both the book and blog is to help schools and their supporters inject more fun into educational fundraising efforts.

Because here's the thing...

If you treat school fundraising as drudgery, the community will agree with you. But if you get excited about FUNdraising and maximize each event’s potential for education, outreach, and plain old good times, the buzz likely will prove infectious—while participation levels and receipts soar to new heights.

We’ve seen a backlash in recent years against the old-fashioned product sales that force parents to twist arms at the office until colleagues buy items they don’t want or need in hopes that others will return the favor when their children’s fundraisers roll around. Of course, some school sales drives remain welcome traditions in their communities—and more power to those exceptional exceptions, I say.

But where that backlash exists, it isn’t against schools, or even fundraisers. Some communities, shell-shocked by a never-ending stream of sales, have adopted an annual cash-contribution model instead. This shows that participating school families are still willing to support education; they just don’t want to be harassed in the process.

Wouldn’t it be better, though, if schools entertained and delighted those communities with their fundraisers instead of trading annoying sales for obligatory pledges?

There’s a lot of goodwill out there for schools, and they still have an important cultural-enrichment role to play in their communities. My book, and this blog, will pass along fundraising ideas everyone can get excited about.

In addition to reading along and trying out some of these ideas, you have another role here: Sharing your own school fundraising success stories, and lessons learned. Please add them into the comments section so that others in the educational community can benefit from your experiences.

Learn more about FUNdraising.

Book me as a speaker at your school or educational group.