Did you catch the recent webinar we co-hosted on how PTAs are fundraising during the pandemic? What a lively and amazingly informative session! It was filled with advice from someone who knows well what she is talking about, Alicia Whitaker Pace – published author, proud mom, fundraising maven and past PTA president.
Despite the absence of normal “school” due to the pandemic, 51% of PTO/PTA leaders say they still need to raise money. Why? “Our mission statement talks about empowering and engaging communities and families in order to advocate for every child,” Alecia explains. “So it's every voice, every child.” Advocacy costs money, when you’re working at every level from local to Congressional.
Inclusion is key to everything the PTA does. Alecia believes the most successful (and favorite) fundraisers are those that prioritize community involvement.
Bringing People Together
What will attract the most interest and participation? “Think about the kinds of events you look forward to,” Alecia recommends. And focus on fun! Community events that everyone looks forward to are successful because they give people a chance to not only invest their money, but their heart, soul, mind and energy.
With a 10-month school year in which to raise money, plan multiple smaller activities rather than one big blowout. This gives parents and others who want to contribute more time and more opportunities to do so, so they don’t feel obligated to support a single fundraiser that may be poorly timed for them.
The Three-to-One Rule
“For every one fundraiser you do, you should give back to the community in three ways,” Alecia advises.
Choose give-back activities that show equity and parity for all kids in the community. Many options that support inclusiveness can also be adapted for remote audiences. Some great examples?
- Send “welcome back to school” gifts to every child at the beginning of the new school year, instead of hosting a “welcome back” barbeque at the school.
- Sponsor cultural arts programming that reflects the diversity of the school community. That brings all children face-to-face with things they may never experience otherwise.
- Hold a Parents’ Night, a just-for-fun night out with lots of raffles all around for people to drop tickets into. This year, Alecia’s PTA is hosting their event using BetterUnite, one of several platforms designed to support virtual fundraising.
- Scavenger hunts. The app GooseChase makes it easy to hold virtual versions of this popular game. Alecia reports that family competitions are fierce and results are hilarious.
Equity in Scheduling
It’s easy to overlook the fact that families and community members at large can have widely divergent schedules. So don’t hold all your events on Saturdays, for example, plan them for different days of the week and times of day to open up accessibility to everyone.
Technology Transforms Events
Technology allows you to broaden event participation by reaching out to literally everyone. Not all parents can bring their child to family reading or game show night. Sometimes families can’t get a sitter on the right date or time. But anyone can join in remotely.
Technology also makes events such as silent auctions more fair and transparent, often making them even more fun.
Don’t forget that your SquadLocker store is still a super source of fundraising. It’s always open, so friends and fans around the world can contribute by purchasing your school’s smart-looking, functional, custom decorated spirit wear.
Even when in-person events return, Alecia expects to see hybrid events that maximize inclusion. “I’ve attended Parents’ Night five times in a row,” she explains, “but this year my folks from back home were able to buy raffle tickets and drop tickets and they're not usually down at the hall on the night of this event.”
It’s school, so “show and tell” what you’re doing, on your website and, especially social media. Promote the heck out of your fundraisers on key social channels to generate excitement before, during and after – during is more important than ever with virtual events, because folks can participate and share about your event in real time.
People support PTA fundraisers because they want to and, in some cases, because they feel obligated. But everyone will be most pleased about their participation when they know it actually made a difference. So report back on:
- How much you raised
- What you did (or plan to do) with the money
- What are the three give-backs you will create?
Using fundraisers to promote inclusion helps your school, its families and the entire community stay connected. You’ll raise more money, too.
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