Parents want their kids to thrive at school. As a result, they become invested in their child’s education, and most quickly offer to help when their school needs it. There are several reasons that propel a parent, teacher, or even an entire community to engage in school fundraising. For many schools, the problem manifests in a lack of government funding that forces school districts to redistribute their budget. And this often results in major changes to the school itself. Don’t let budget cuts hinder your child’s education. Compassionate crowdfunding is the key to replenishing your school’s resources.
Budget cuts to primary and secondary schools
Unfortunately, schools across America have been experiencing significant budget cuts over the past several years, hitting public schools the hardest. As a parent, you may have noticed that the financial needs of your child’s school are not being met by their allotted budget. Cash-strapped teachers are forced to either cut valuable educational programs or make up the difference with their own finances.
Even though future generations depend on the quality of our school system, government funding for education is continuously slashed. As the funds deplete, the school’s ability to inspire young students to learn diminishes, too. You may watch your child’s class size grow every year as your school system steadily lets go of quality teachers and reduces its resources to manage their dwindling budgets.
Larger class sizes mean that each student receives less attention and the curriculum becomes limited, disadvantaging certain students. Budget cuts can mean reducing or terminating critical programs and services. This can include school buses, new classroom tools, like textbooks and dry erase boards, and extracurricular activities, such as art, foreign language classes, physical education, and after-school programs. Students can miss out on meaningful life experiences, like taking field trips to historical sites or performing in their first play. As a result, more parents are called upon to donate money, give their time, or fundraise on the school’s behalf. For families that already struggle financially, having your children’s school ask you for more money can add unanticipated stress.
Spotlight school budget cuts statistics
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that budget cuts directly affect the teacher-to-student ratio per classroom. Since 2008, the number of teachers decreased by 297,000, while the number of students increased by 804,000.
- A study released by First Focus revealed that federal funding for primary and secondary education in the United States has decreased by 20 percent over the past five years, which is about five times more of a reduction that overall federal spending cuts.
- An article from the Huffington Post shows that in order to balance their diminished budgets, schools are moving to four-day school weeks, canceling field trips, and even requiring students to pay-to-play sports.
Reasons for school fundraising
1. Updating and replenishing school resources
As your child grows up, their school ages, too. As time goes by, school facilities, like playgrounds and libraries, can become outdated or suffer damage and need repairs. Fundraising serves as an opportunity for a school community to come together to improve school buildings and grounds. The school may need improvements in the classroom or administrative offices. Classroom supplies are always in high demand. So when the budget is low, even basic school supplies become scarce. Helping to raise the funds necessary to keep a classroom full of supplies throughout the academic year will help ensure that your own child is getting needed resources to thrive in school.
2. Funding extracurricular activities and afterschool programs
Parents want their children to receive a comprehensive education with programs that take learning beyond the walls of a classroom. A well-rounded curriculum nurtures students’ needs and helps identify areas where they may need extra help. Supervised and structured after-school activities can have more perks than most parents think.
Extracurricular activities give students a sense of purpose and belonging to their school community. They teach students teamwork, commitment, and problem-solving skills while facilitating supportive relationships between students and teachers. And there is an academic benefit. A research report released by College Board asserts that the participation in extracurricular activities in high school directly correlates to higher SAT scores. It’s also important to note that after-school programs help curb any working parents’ anxiety about who will watch their child after school. Through fundraising, you help supplement the budget for curriculum-enrichment programs and you help support the teachers by providing the resources that they may be lacking.
Unpredictable school fundraising benefits
The obvious goal of any fundraiser is to raise the monetary means to fund a project or cause. However, you may stumble upon some unforeseen benefits. On top of that warm, fuzzy feeling we get after we help someone, donors can feel a part of something that will enhance their own community. Fundraising initiatives can serve as a bonding experience for parents and their children, too.
When kids get involved in school fundraising, they feel pride for their school. Students get empowered to contribute to something that will directly benefit their education. And when kids start fundraising to help their school at a young age, they are being taught the importance of being civic- minded. The experience they have is that even though they are young, they can still make a positive difference in their community. And as they become adults and working members of the community, they will take this lesson with them and continue to think about how they can help people around them. In addition, fundraising helps foster a feeling of self-worth for students. As they begin to watch the donations come from people they haven’t met, they learn that people care for one another and that even people outside their community uphold the importance of their education.
School funding options
1. Apply for school grants
Private companies, local community organizations, and the federal government have all been providing grants for after-school programs, extracurricular activities, or curriculum development for several years. Grants specify exactly what funds can be used for and how much money is available. There are specific qualifications a school must meet to apply for a grant. Then comes the application process, which can be lengthy. With a large number of schools applying for the same grants, the likelihood of your school being chosen may be slim.
2. School fundraising companies
Another funding option is to purchase kits from school fundraising companies. These fundraising kits usually involve some sort of product-based sales with small prizes as incentives for students. However, school fundraising companies pocket a large percentage of your earnings. And this school fundraising model separates the students from what they are fundraising for. Students may be excited about winning a prize for selling wrapping paper, but are they aware of what they are fundraising for? This disconnection to the purpose may accurately teach them about being a salesman. However, it does not instill lessons of compassion and hard work that other types of school fundraisers provide.
3. Crowdfunding: a new way to fundraise
As a parent or teacher, you may be tired of the traditional types of school fundraisers, like magazine sales that require you to go door to door which often don’t produce the needed funds. A more lucrative and efficient alternative is crowdfunding. By taking fundraising online, crowdfunding enables people to raise funds from the crowd, utilizing their online social networks to propel their efforts and spread awareness to new potential donors.
For some, there may be a hesitation to ask for help online from your social networks. The idea of asking friends and strangers for money may be uncomfortable. The key is to explain your cause honestly and share it and say why it’s so important. Once the support and donations start to come in, you may no longer feel vulnerable and suddenly start to feel empowered. When people recognize that there is a genuine need and that you are actively taking steps to solve a community-wide problem, they will be more willing to help and share in your fundraiser’s success.
Compassionate crowdfunding with YouCaring
A concern with many crowdfunding sites is that they have a platform fee that detracts from the donations you receive from supporters. A side-by-side comparison of the most popular crowdfunding platforms quickly reveals which fundraising site has the lowest fees – YouCaring. The platform is dedicated to Compassionate Crowdfunding ™, meaning that it caters to humanitarian and personal causes. YouCaring has no platform fee because it knows that every dollar counts. Part of the mission is to empower people to help others and help themselves during hardships. YouCaring believes that compassion is the key to both giving and receiving support.
A surefire way to reach your fundraising goals is to start with a solid foundation. A well-thought-out fundraising strategy is key to setting yourself up for success. Planning a successful school fundraiser requires you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It is important to think about your ultimate goal and then break down the necessary steps to get there. This fundraising strategy template can help you organize your ideas and goals while giving you some proven crowdfunding tips along the way. Note that your online social network can boost your campaign’s awareness, which is why you should use social media to promote your fundraiser. Sharing on sites like Facebook and Twitter is a great way to get the word out.
Consider organizing a crowdfunding campaign in tandem with exciting offline fundraising events. Offline fundraising events are an ideal way to spread buzz about your campaign throughout your community while bringing in donations. Any funds raised from these events can be added to your total donation pool on your crowdfunding campaign. There are endless exciting school fundraising event ideas.
Elementary school fundraising
Elementary school is an exciting time for young kids. Students begin to develop new friendships and dip their toes into different activities. Elementary school fundraising can take many forms. Young students may desire to raise funds for their favorite charity. Perhaps your child has joined the student council and understands how fundraising supports school events or community projects. These student council fundraising ideas will get your kid excited about creating a crowdfunding campaign. Tap into your school’s creative drive and try incorporating art into your fundraiser.
Middle school fundraising
The education system exposes students to new skills and hobbies as they grow up. By middle school, students start experiencing more freedom and exercising their curiosity. They may create or join different student organizations, like a photography club. And when they need new supplies, there are several fundraising ideas for school clubs that will help them nurture their extracurricular interests. Explore some middle school fundraising ideas before you start your own campaign.
High school fundraising
High school students have developed interests in different school programs, ranging from debate to band to yearbook. When school budget cuts take their favorite programs away, students can band together to keep these programs afloat. There are several fundraising ideas for high school that can work for your school’s needs and interests. For example, you can tailor your high school sports fundraising initiatives to have an athletic theme.
Successful school fundraisers on YouCaring
As a result of the Hattiesburg Public School district’s financial crisis, funding for travel to tournaments was suspended. This prompted students and their dedicated coaches to create a crowdfunding campaign to fund their trip to compete in Atlanta, Georgia, in the Barkley Forum for High Schools. The Hattiesburg Public School District’s Forensic Program has provided economically disadvantaged students the ability to discover what success looks like, both inside and outside of the classroom. They are the only school in the nation to have produced two National Forensics Students of the Year and have received three School of Excellence awards from the National Speech and Debate Association. Even more impressive: their program prides itself on a 100 percent graduation rate and all students from the program go to college after graduation. With the help of several supporters, the team was able to compete.
As Elm Grove Elementary’s enrollment increased to more than 800 students, the school’s PTA rallied together to find a way to update their old library into a place that fosters critical thinking while accommodating different styles of learning. They made a plan to get rid of old equipment, like VHS tapes, and replace it with new technology, such as robot programming software, a 3D printer, computers, materials about botany, and a space to learn skills like carpentry, architecture, and more. With a well-organized crowdfunding campaign, they raised more than enough funds to create the library that they believe will inspire the next generation of innovators.
Launch a school fundraiser
The beauty of crowdfunding is that it can serve multiple purposes. One, it raises funds for a meaningful cause. Second, it rallies your neighborhood around a collective cause and reminds them they can directly help their own community. School fundraising can have a lasting impact on a student’s life. Check out our fundraising ideas for schools before kicking off your own free fundraiser.
Note: You must be 18 or older to start an account on YouCaring. Students can work with their parents to create a crowdfunding campaign.
For more help read Professional School Fundraising Strategies that Retain Donors.