Re-Thinking Your Fundraising Strategy

Are you one of the Schools or PTAs wondering what went wrong for your Christmas Bazaar this year?  Were you one of the organisers telling stallholders ‘it wasn’t this quiet last year’?  Wondering how you will engage disillusioned stallholders for your Summer Bazaar?  Or simply want a more efficient, less time consuming way to fill the coffers? Then take heart and consider our simple ideas for rejuvenating your fundraising.

We are in tough economic times with seemingly no end in sight, so as times get tougher what can you do to keep parents digging into their pockets to contribute to your fundraising coffers?  How can you re-engage an increasingly apathetic and disillusioned buying public?

Well, maybe we have the answer in our 5 step ‘Re-Thinking Fundraising’ programme and we are going to start with NLP.

Step 1 – NLP

What is that we hear you ask?  Ever watched Derren Brown or Paul McKenna on TV and wondered, how did they make that person do that so effortlessly?  Often, they use a technique called NLP, which stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming, the brainchild of Richard Bandler.

One of the first teachings of NLP is, ‘If you continue to do the same thing, you will continue to get the same results’.  Sound obvious?  Well stop to think for a moment, how often are you doing something out of habit rather than because it is yielding the results you desire?  This can apply to all areas of life of course, not just to fundraising, but if you are one of the PTAs where what you have been doing is no longer working or sustainable then maybe its time to do the next NLP step: STOP and do something (anything) else.

Continuing on a path because ‘it always worked in the past’ or because ‘we have always done it like this’, is futile and limiting as we sail through the new somewhat choppy and unchartered waters of this economic climate, so its probably a very good time to follow NLP mantra number three: ‘Change is good’.

We are all resistant to change, for some reason our brains seem pre-wired to resist it, to presume it will be bad for us.  But in these fast moving times, adaptability and embracing change are a necessity for survival, and again not just for your fundraising activities but as a metaphor for life!  So lets all embrace the uncertainty of change and look for new and exciting ways to get the results we want.

Now, if our (very) small introduction to the wonders of NLP has whet your appetite for more, and if you live in Hertfordshire you are lucky enough to have, in our opinion, some of the best NLP experts in the UK on your doorstep in the shape of The Phoenix Consultancy.  At the very least we recommend further reading ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ By Spencer Johnson available at Amazon.

Alternatively, we are considering presenting some Nationwide Seminars in early 2013 in association with The Phoenix Consultancy, geared at Maximising Fundraising so please e-mail us through our website to pre-register your interest.

Step 2 – ENGAGEMENT

As a Fundraiser for a school, you have a relatively captive and already fairly engaged audience in your parents.  However, everyone has more and more pulls on their purse strings these days so its vitally important that you keep your audience engaged so as to not slowly alienate them or ‘switch them off’ and a luck-lustre turnout to your Christmas Event could be the first signs of alienation.  To get a benchmark of where you are right now, perhaps its time to make a list of all your existing Fundraising activities and compare them against these ‘anti-alienation’ must-haves:

  • Win-win (for all parties – School / PTA / Parent)
  • Simple (for you to organise)
  • Easy (for parents to say YES)
  • Cheap (to reach the widest possible audience of Parents in this climate)
  • Engagement factor (gets Parents saying ‘wow’ and keeps them coming back)
  • ROI (business term for Return On Investment – both time and money)

If you put in the effort of doing the work for your audience, leaving them to simply sign on the bottom line you are more likely to get them to reach into their shallower pocket. So, how to do that whilst knowing that you yourself also have the same constraints on your own resources?  In the answer is your win-win.

One way we help schools & PTAs to fundraise all year around without all the time and effort required on their part to organise Fetes and Bazaars, is via our ‘bulk buy scheme’ which can be implemented for all major year round celebrations including Mothers Day, Easter, Fathers Day etc.

Lets take Mothers Day as an example:

  1. one letter home in with Children asking parents for a contribution of only £2.50 each (cheap & easy)
  2. you collate these, order from us in one bulk purchase a Mothers Day colour-in keepsake for each child (simple)
  3. the children colour them in at School as an activity and take them home to a very thrilled Mum! (engagement)
  4. the PTA adds £1 per card to their school fund (Great ROI (return on investment))

For an average Primary School of around 200 pupils, this is an additional £200 for the Fundraising pot, all for the very small amount of effort of one letter home to parents and a few clicks of the mouse on the Internet.  Which equals a profitable Return On Investment of both money and time for the PTA, happy Parents and a great School activity to boot – THAT is a win-win!

Using this method, your PTA could fundraise at least 4 or 5 times a year and using the same School example that is a very healthy £1,000 approx added to the funds without the time and effort of a fundraising event.

Step 3 – THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Maybe its time to make a list of all the other Fundraising ideas you have been thinking up that tick all these boxes too?:

  • Win-win
  • Simple (for you to organise)
  • Easy (for parents to say YES)
  • Cheap (to reach the widest possible audience)
  • Engagement factor (gets parents saying ‘wow’ and keeps them coming back)

Apply this formula to your existing activities as well as new ones you are considering.  How many of them measure up?  How many are delivering on investment?  How many are still sustainable if you’ve had a poor turn-out to your latest Christmas Bazaar or event?  Going back to the NLP we learnt at the beginning, how many existing ideas should be consigned to the past and how creative can you all be with new, exciting and refreshing ideas to replace them?

Step 4 – PARTNER UP!

It is the new way of doing business in these cash strapped times, so why not apply it to your school too?  Smart Businesses are looking for new ways to engage potential customers in this market, and those with products and/or services aimed at Children are no exception.  Leverage your ‘database’ and captive audience of Parents to make strategic partnerships with local businesses.

As another example, we are looking to partner with a Primary School in the UK that is forward thinking and excited to embrace our new fundraising concept. In response to them writing blog feedback, championing us and our products to other Schools, PTA associations etc, we will provide free card offers at four strategic points throughout the year so that they can re-sell those cards at full RRP and earn even more for their funds.

If you are interested in being that School with us for 2013 please get in touch via our website.  If you aren’t then think about making strategic links with local Businesses beyond the worn out ‘something for our raffle please’? You may be amazed at where it could take you and how many businesses will want to be involved.

To find a business near you that is championing investing in the community where they are located, try the website u-do.com – bringing communities together to reinvest profits of companies locally rather than globally for just shareholders.

Step 5 – Just Do It

We will finish on another NLP mantra –just do it!  Pretend you have a totally blank sheet, and reinvent, rehash and revive your fundraising efforts and by just ‘giving it a go’, your motivation will become contagious to those around you on your fundraising committee and even other parents.

So, make 2013 the year your School blazes the new Fundraising trail and remember to register your interest in any NLP & Fundraising Seminars in 2013.

Tina