In an ideal world, high school education-based athletics and performing arts activities would all be adequately supported, and fundraising by teams and student groups would not be needed. But in the real world of revenue shortages and shrinking budgets, such programs often must rely on fundraising for at least some portion – if not all – of their funding.
Know school policies and restrictions
Most school districts require advance permission for fundraising activities. Some prohibit individual fundraisers by clubs or school groups altogether to prevent citizens of the community from being bombarded with requests to buy or sponsor something. Many limit groups to a specific number of fundraisers, or limit the types of activities allowed.
Learn your school’s policies, and follow them carefully. This is important for all types of fundraising activities, including those by booster clubs or parent support groups, soliciting funds or donated goods from local businesses or communities groups, hosting an event or providing a service to raise revenues, selling merchandise, or using social media for ‘crowdfunding.’
Evaluate fundraising activities carefully
Since there are countless potential ways to raise money, selecting one that best fits your needs and your community environment is important. In addition to following established policies, avoid projects that would be in competition with other school or community efforts. Exploring the following questions will provide a useful starting point for making choices.
Prepare and train participants in advance
If students will be involved in selling merchandise or soliciting sponsorships, make sure they are well trained to be courteous and not overly aggressive. Role-playing potential conversations and discussing and rehearsing what students should say – and not say – will increase their confidence and potentially their success.
If the project includes contacting community members or local businesses, divide the community into sections and have students assigned to each one. This prevents duplication of efforts and frustration caused when community members are solicited repeatedly for the same purpose. This is also helpful when selling raffle tickets or merchandise at school events or games.
Students should understand the importance of keeping accurate records and submitting money received in a timely fashion. Make sure parents are informed as well. Everyone involved should clearly understand their responsibilities and the timeline.
A successful fundraising project can provide not only needed money for maintaining or expanding activities programs, but also offer students valuable experience in problem-solving, organizing, time management and recordkeeping. Those participating also gain experience in salesmanship, promotion and community engagement. Spending sufficient time to analyze and select the most appropriate projects with the highest chances of success will be time well spent.
Treva Dayton is a former classroom teacher, forensic coach and theatre director. She has served as state director of speech and debate for the Texas University Interscholastic League and as an assistant director for the NFHS. She retired as director of academics for the UIL. Dayton is a member of the High School Today Publications Committee.