Never Sell Yourself Short!
Inspirational success stories do not showcase the complacent or pay tribute to bystanders. They inspire and motivate because a “fearless” warrior will let nothing stand in his/her way of reaching their goal!
You often hear stories of individuals who beat the odds to succeed at business, sports, academics, arts, politics, life and more. But my focus today is on BEING A FEARLESS VOLUNTEER! The one who selflessly beats the odds to raise BIG bucks for educational enrichment. This is about the fundraising chairperson!
I know that’s dramatic, but heck, you’re doing it any way, so why not do it big? You volunteered to make a difference, so let’s really stand out!
The fearless start out like any old ordinary someone. But let’s be clear, there’s no perfectly suited person to run a successful fundraiser. It’s just a perfect storm that pulls a person into position and spins them to success. But it doesn’t happen accidentally either. A successful chairperson needs:
- A goal
- A passion or a call to action
- A dedicated team. WARNING: Do NOT attempt a fundraiser alone! Be fearless in persuading a small, like-minded team/committee to work with you on at least a few of the tasks at hand.
There has to be PASSION for the PURPOSE for which you are raising money, or your profit will be more of a light drizzle than a downpour!
the more profit earned!
Like a tornado, that grows stronger and stronger as it spins, your profit grows and grows as your passion is shared with others.
Frequently, parents and teachers have no idea where funds raised are going. Over time, they stop supporting the fundraiser. Even if your fundraiser supports a variety of purposes, market the biggest item/event that the students, parents, teachers, and your principal will be excited enough to support. Something they will be passionate about so that they are called to action.
Many times the focus shifts from “what the funds will buy and support” to “how the funds are raised.” The focus is on the product sale, the event or the thon. The volunteers become complacent, the parent groups separate themselves from the fundraiser and rely on the “program” to do the job for them. This happens because they are fearful of stepping on toes, asking people to do their part, making decisions and the opposition.
If your running a fundraiser, you have to fearlessly stand up because you are shamelessly raising money! Embrace it, own it! Do not apologize! It’s all solicitation…whether you’re asking for pledges, collecting donations or pennies, selling products, tickets, spirit gear, coupons, books, or artwork, shopping online or at a specific store or restaurant, purchasing products for their labels. There’s no such thing as a non-fundraiser that raises money. Only non-profitable fundraising choices.
Ironically, the lowest profit programs are the most work and most highly promoted in schools. With label programs, instead of participants bringing in hundreds of dollars, they bring in single dollars, and big retail and cereal companies get richer! Product fundraisers are the good guys in fundraising, but they fall victim to parent groups who fail be fearless. Product fundraisers provide the highest profit, get local support and have great customer service and provide American-made products at a great value. They also include many bonuses and benefits the average parent, teacher and principal have no idea exist!
Fearless Fundraising Groups solicit only once or twice per school year and they generate more money than those groups who do multiple or monthly fundraisers.
- Stop the over-fundraising and eliminate low-profit programs. Doing this will increase the profit earned from your REAL fundraiser(s) and increase participation of students, families and teachers.
- Be the FUN group, not the FUNDRAISING group! You don’t have to charge families for their kids’ art, promote multiple book fairs (although I just love when I send money to school and my son brings home a poster and light up stress ball…ugh). Create school pride and community by NOT marking up school spirit gear and supplies…it’s okay! Do a thon to promote fitness, reading, math or spelling…not pledges! Do it to be fit or to only encourage learning. Host a free carnival or fun night (you could make this an incentive associated with your fundraiser), or do a book exchange rather than a bookfair to encourage sharing and recycling. Be creative!
- Expect to be challenged because everyone will not support your passion! Be fearless in defending your group’s decision and purpose for raising money. Be a great sales person (and whether you like it or not, you are one) and knock on the next door when one is slammed in your face. Be fearless and seek face-to-face contact. Emails, online posts and notes are great, but it’s not enough. If you have 300 families and 10 board/committee members, have each member make 30 personal contacts to explain the purpose, the passionate, how they can help make it happen, and how thankful the students and staff will be for their support. Do not let negativity derail your effort! Keep it about the purpose, the kids, and why you’re so passionate about reaching this goal. Asking others to join you is much different than telling them to sell and collect! You are requesting help, support, and for them to do something that results in money to pay for the purpose the kids need and you are so passionate about!
Allow the prizes to become the only goal and you are creating another fundraising faux pas. This makes some parents crazy and turns them off to helping. Don’t get me wrong, you need incentives to be successful, but you’ll be twice as successful when your call to action is educational enrichment versus a light up yo-yo!
Step back and take a hard look at what fuels participation in YOUR fundraiser. If you think surveying families, swapping companies, and jumping on whatever bandwagon the school across town swears by is the answer, then take a close look at yourself. Be sure to rule out the possibility that you are the problem!
Take this Fundraising Participation Survey and rate your group from 1 to 3 in how much passion and effort went into planning and promoting of your last fundraiser:
1 = fail (didn’t do)
2 = flat (did it)
3 = fearless (did it BIG-TIME)
- Created and followed a success plan and timeline to communicate dates, goals, etc. to principal, staff, parents, students and volunteers two to 12 months before your start date.
- Chose a purpose for the money raised and set a profit goal required to fund your purpose two to 12 months before your start date.
- Set individual and team profit goals in dollars or items sold to accomplish the profit goal two to 12 months before the start date.
- Worked with principal and staff to establish free and fun prizes and privileges for individuals, grades, classrooms and all-school when goals are reached. These should be in addition to the incentives provided by the fundraising company and should be locked in one to three months before your start date.
- Conducted a Pre-sale Promotion for parents and teachers. This could have been done person-to-person word of mouth, by email, with notes or newsletters, via social media, a school sign, or on the website. This promotion should have been done one to three months before the start of the sale.
- Created and maintained a Wall Chart to market your purpose, ignite passion, show progress, and acknowledge participants who have reached their goal, as well as to encourage MORE students to continue their efforts. The wall chart should have gon up just before start date with one last update after conclusion of the sale.
- Conducted a teacher kick off meeting with staff the day before or morning of start date.
- Worked with principal and fundraising company to inform students how to help with a powerful 15-20 minute Kick-Off Presentation on the start date or the day packets went home and collections started.
- Informed parents of the purpose, individual and team goals required to fund it, rewards to thank participants. Reported progress during sale and collection and acknowledged stand-outs by person-to-person word of mouth, by email, with notes or newsletters, via social media, a school sign, or on the website.
- Made daily announcements to students to remind, report progress, and to request additional and continual support.
25 to 30 Points. Congratulations, you ARE fearless! The closer to 30 points you are, the higher your profit should have been. If your profit was NOT what it should be, despite a fearless effort, it might be to consider other methods of raising funds.
24 to 10 Points. You are going through the motions! Flat Passion = Flat Participation = Flat Profit. This level is achieved when you only do some of what is required to run a successful fundraiser, but lack a passionate purpose OR fail to inform students, parents, staff and principal. Bystanders will only become participants if YOU make it happen! Make it happen!
9 to 0 Points. Fundraising Fail. You are selling yourself short! Your problem is not your fundraiser, not your families, not your teachers…it’s YOUR LACK OF PASSION AND CHOICE TO NOT BE FEARLESS WHICH HAS LED TO YOUR FAILURE. It’s up to you to take the 10 steps above to success.
Now that you know where you stand, accept the challenge or your destiny is to under perform.
Groups that are passionate about their purpose and fearless in communication, persuasion, and are goal orientated, succeed. Groups that are complacent and fearful, under perform or fail.
Go get ‘em fundraising warrior!
In closing keep THIS in mind: