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Webinar: How PTAs Are Beating Fundraising Goals - Full Recap

October 8, 2020

jennifer kovats

SquadLocker is a proud supporter of the live webinar, “Tips to Boost Your School Organization's Fundraising in a Virtual World”. Hosted by SquadLocker strategic partner, K-12 Clothing, the webinar provides tips on how to fundraise in today’s world of virtual education, and how parent-teacher associations are beating fundraising goals.

 

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Read the Webinar Transcript

Jeanne:

Hi everybody, welcome to our wonderful webinar, tips to build your school organization's fundraising in a virtual world. My name is Jeanne Hopkins and I'm going to be your host today and be able to talk to Debora Jones who's co-founder of K-12 clothing and Alecia Whitaker Pace, PTA fundraising expert and published author and she was just telling us how many times she's been riding her bike bringing her kids to school today. Very exciting.

Jeanne:

Next, I just want to give you a little bit of information about a checklist, we are recording this webinar, I absolutely promise we're recording it. We're also going to be doing a transcript of this and posting it to our blog, which is going to be pretty cool. You will get a copy of the recording and the transcript tomorrow after this webinar is over. Today is October 7th, yes, October 7th and it's Alecia's son's birthday so that's a big day. And then we are going to be able to answer your questions if you put your questions in the chat pane of the GoToWebinar platform, I'll be monitoring it so that we can ask questions at the very end.

Jeanne:

So the topic today is we learned, and Debora told me this earlier, 51% of PTO leaders said they need to raise money. More than ever in these year, 2020, which has just been a wonderful year for everyone whether you're online, hybrid, organizations are just not able to operate as they did in the past. How are you going to get to these higher fundraising targets? And Alecia has a lot of great ideas, Debora's got some great questions for her. Having a PTA fundraising expert online is really very, very important to us. So I'm going to turn it over to you Deb and allow you to interview your co-speaker today, Alecia, thank you so much.

Debora:

Thanks Jeanne, appreciate it. And I think what we need to do here is really set the stage, right, because the trick to tips to boost your organization's fundraising online or in person really starts with a strong strategy and a strong understanding of fundraising as a PTA. So we'll start there and then we'll get into some more practical tips to implement today, tomorrow, this year.

Debora:

So when you think about the role of the PTA, what do you think about Alecia?

Alecia:

Well, for me the first thing that I think about is advocacy. So if you go onto nationalpta.org and you look at your mission statement, so to me the mission statement drives everything. I can't tell you how many people have said this year, "Why are we even fundraising? What are we even doing this year? Why does the PTA even need fundraisers?" Well, because our goal is still to advocate for the children. I was just looking, I wish I had pulled up the mission statement, I might have texted it to you, but it talks about empowering and engaging communities and families in order to advocate for every child. So it's every voice, every child.

Alecia:

So yes, you might just love wrapping paper from a certain awesome fundraiser, you may love the big tins of popcorn, you may love the awesome reusable bags. And I am for all of that, I am not anti any of it. But I'm saying look at your budget, try to do budget neutral, so you're only raising as much as you need to fund because the goal is to reach every child. And so to me that is the driving force.

Debora:

I think that's a really great point. And you did send me the mission statement, it's all about every child one voice. So if you look at the nation PTA, the PTA's mission is to make every child's potential reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for children. So to your point, advocacy, being the voice of children and realizing every child's potential and I think that's a really important point because when you think about fundraising it's really about that. It's helping to give children different perspectives through different activities, it's helping to unlock that potential. And it's engaging families it's bringing in the community. So when you think about that as the background, what makes for a successful fundraising strategy?

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Alecia:

So I think, in my opinion, that leads right into community events. For me, you have to put the fun in fundraising. And what's fun? A big party, or something like that. Obviously in 2020 you have to reimagine that. It doesn't mean you don't have your fundraisers, it means you get creative. But think about ways you can bring communities together. You and I are together right now on opposite coasts and we're having a blast, so the idea is that you just get creative about how to make it happen. In my opinion, our favorite and our most successful fundraisers are the ones with community involvement.

Alecia:

So let me give you some examples. A lot of people do a fall festival with games or things like that where you can bring your kids. We, at my school, always do a welcome back event. It's a big social with a barbecue, the playground, we the Deconna ice truck or some kind of ICEE, ice cream truck. We have games in the field that at couple of PTA dads who are PTA teachers will lead some games. And so parents feel like they're supporting the PTA but they're also receiving as well. So that goes to the mission statement about talking about communities and families. And so I think events like that are beautiful. We have a family game show night where it's a give bag it's not even a fundraiser, we just give that back. And then a family reading night, we have a lot of give backs that are family.

Alecia:

So why not, family reading night, family steam night, family math night, family welcome back picnic, okay, those are great an successful and looked forward to. How can we apply that to our fundraisers? In our community, even people outside of our school look forward to our parents night out. And we just had that on Saturday and it was a beast to run. I really was so nervous because I'm running this thing and we usually have 200 attendees in person at a catering hall, we have dinner, we have adult beverages, we have a lot of people hanging out and having fun, teachers come, and you leave the kids at home with a babysitter.

Alecia:

Well how are we going to do that during a pandemic? So we had to really rethink it and I think that it was so beautiful that people still looked forward to it because it's been around since the 90s. I mean my husband and I are like, "We can't wait to go", because it's a date night for us. And really it's the biggest fundraiser of the year, we can support the majority of our budget on this one fundraiser. Which is a beautiful thing because then you're not harassing for fundraising all the time we just get it all in this one big shot. But it's a blast, there's a buffet and a DJ and there's dancing and lot's of 90s music so we can't go wrong with that. It's just a super fun event. So if you can think about fundraising in that way, like saying, "Okay, if we're looking forward to this family event or this big event out, what kind of event can we have a community fundraiser that people look forward to?" And I think that makes it very successful because also, even when you're whole family is there like at the welcome back picnic, we're selling spirit wear, we're selling memberships, we have a few raffle baskets at that event. But we're also giving back, there might be a magician, or there might be, like I said, ICEEs.

Alecia:

So I think what happens with those types of events is that people feel invested. So for instance, if you were to buy something on the stock market, you're suddenly going to pay attention when you see that company in the headlines. "Oh wait, I have even one share of that company", you're invested. So similarly, if you invest in the PTA, you're going to be invested not just in the literal sense with your money but in the figurative sense with your heart and your soul and your mind and really your energy. So to me, that makes it successful.

Alecia:

Should I talk now about the three to one?

Debora:

Yeah, I think that's a great point because when PTA's are setting up their strategy for a year, certainly getting the community involved, thinking of the mission statement, that's important. But I think there's also some more practical elements that are important for you to highlight.

Alecia:

Sure. So to make it a successful fundraiser, you also want to make sure that your heart is in the right place. We are a non-profit organization and honestly we are an IRS recognized non-profit organization. We are tax exempt so we have to earn that. How do we earn that? Well there's a three to one ratio. So for every one fundraiser you do, you need to be giving back in three ways. So that three to one ratio, if you start thinking about it like that, okay, the welcome back fundraiser was kind of a give back but it was really a fundraiser, you're raising money. So what three ways can we give?

Alecia:

Well we did a scavenger hunt, that's one way, where the kids could do a huge scavenger hunt. We had to do it through an app called GooseChase, but it was really fun. Families did competitions at home like ten push ups or how many kids can your dad carry, you take a picture, things like that. And it's really fun and you're seeing it pop up on your social media or on your app and you're like, "No way, the Jones family just carried four kids. Throw a baby doll on top!" So you're trying to think of ways to make it fun and that's a give back.

Alecia:

So one thing, part of the mission statement that's very dear to my heart is the all children part. It's for all children, all communities. I live in Long Island, I'm not from here, so I'm originally from Kentucky. It's important to me to build my community, it's very important to me, I don't have mom and dad down the road. So the community part and the advocating for all children in your building, to me, is very important. So like events where we give back in ways that show equity and parity to all children.

Alecia:

So not everybody's mom and dad can bring them on the weekend to a welcome back event. Not everybody;s parent can bring them to family reading night or family game show night or not everybody can get off for parent's night out. So when you're thinking about your fundraising and your giving back, you have to think, "Okay, how am I advocating for every child?" So this year, the new president after me, she sent home a welcome back gift to all children. So that includes the virtual learners who are at home and that includes our in person learners who are in school five times a week, but every child got a gift.

Alecia:

And one of the ways we gave back most the past several years was through cultural arts programming. So we had some folklore dancers come for the Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day. We had Chinese New Years dancers come in. We had the reptile guy, you put a bullfrog on a kid's head and you put that picture on Twitter and then people are seeing where their money goes. "Oh this is why I'm part of the PTA because somebody just touched a boa constrictor at school, that's amazing!" We brought in a StarLab planetarium and you hear these kids who maybe don't have a mama and dad and who are wearing winter clothes in the middle of the hottest summer days and who don't have some of the day to day things that we have and we can sometimes take for granted.

Alecia:

But that's a way that we advocated for that child, that child got to be in a planetarium or that child got to experience a workshop with a reptile enthusiast. I really, really think that when you're considering those fundraiser and give backs that you consider your entire population. And when you're inclusive like that with children I also encourage you to be inclusive like that with your volunteers because you can't run it all. And you might want to and you might think that you can because you are supermom and I don't doubt it, I don't, but just because you can do it all doesn't really mean you should.

Alecia:

Because a lot of people I hear like, "Oh, well I work." "But you have a printer at work right? Because I need somebody to print off this gift certificate." Or, "You are good with Google Spreadsheets right? Because I am having a really hard time printing off the prizes. Maybe you can help sort of the sheet." And, "Oh, yeah, well I am good at Excel. Oh, I could do that at night." So I think that when you think about equity, just in general, if you keep that in the front of your mind, that while you can do everything, if you invite others to give their little part, and maybe it's not as much as you can do, but that little part is almost like a little seed in the ground and you water it. And then you say, "Thank you so much for organizing that spreadsheet, that was a beast." Or, "Thank you so much for printing off that gift certificate", "thank you so much for dropping tablecloths off at the event", something small. "Thank you so much for providing bagels for the welcome back breakfast."

Alecia:

And then you'll notice if you will give people small jobs, if you can let go of the control enough to give people small jobs, you're going to see your attendance start to triple. We tripled our attendance with just that method when I was president. Just becoming the mayor, "Hey I'm Alecia", "Hey I'm Alecia, it's nice to meet you." Introduce people and let people volunteer their little part, let them do something, and you'll just see that then they feel invested and they invest in your PTA literally and figuratively. I guess the last part was the topic but do you want to chime in first?

Debora:

That makes a lot of sense, you get people involved and engaged.

Alecia:

I can't hear you anymore.

Debora:

You can't hear me?

Alecia:

I can't, I don't know if other people can. Okay I got you.

Debora:

You got me now?

Alecia:

Yes.

Debora:

Excellent. There is no webinar complete without a technical glitch, so thank you. But it continues the conversation. I was just saying it makes a lot of sense to get people engaged and invested and that makes for a successful strategy. If I encapsulate what you said, I'm a PTA leader sitting down at the beginning of the year and I'm saying, "Okay, let's set out our fundraising strategy", I think the key things that you pulled out are keep that mission statement in mind, make sure there's equity in your events, in other words working with different days, different times, involvement of different people, volunteers as well as different children. And then showing parents results through give backs I think both because of the IRS guidelines which are critical but also then to engage the parents. The more they see what's happening, the more they will be involved.

Debora:

And if I had to add to that I would say also setting up goals, even if you don't share those goals more broadly, at least then your leadership team has a target in mind and it's marching to that target. Some schools choose to share that out with their parent groups so the parents can see how they're contributing, going back to that showing the impact, but you don't have to. And then I would also say a mix of types of events, and you did mention this, including arts and cultural events for the children but also different days and times.

Debora:

The other takeaway I have from yours is that pictures of things on top of people go really well, like reptiles on children and children on parents. So tonight if there pictures on my social media of husband covered in three dogs and two kids, I'm going to blame you. But more specifically, aside from events with people on other people or animals on people, what specific types of events have you had a lot of success in? You mentioned the fall festival and the auction a little bit, so maybe talk a little more about those particular events and how to make them successful.

Alecia:

Okay. So one thing is timing. The idea is that if you have all your fundraisers, look at your calendar, you've ten months to get it, you don't have to raise it all at the beginning. Let people recoup, let them come back, I think we might be talking about that later, but I definitely think to pay attention to your calendar. But as far as events that prioritize bringing the community together, so is it an event you would want to attend first of all? Are you asking people to do things you yourself wouldn't want to do? Then that's probably not maybe one that's a good idea.

Alecia:

So I talked about parent's night. I told you it's just basically a night out with tons of raffles all around for people to drop tickets into. We use a platform, some people use RallyUp, we used BetterUnite, but there are some platforms you can use to make that go virtual. And what we learned is that in the future, even when this pandemic magically goes away and everything is cured, so when that happens we'll probably go back to in person events but I think we're going to keep a little bit of a hybrid aspect. Because what happened was that I've attended this event five times in a row 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. And a lot of families who can't get a sitter were able to participate.

Alecia:

The silent auction was very fair and very transparent this year because the site just cut if off at 10. So you either had your bids in or you didn't and people were watching that silent auction and I was seeing a lot texts like, "This is so much fun", and then they'd say, "Whose outbid me?" And I couldn't see, it was a blast. But that was very fun and it still brought people together. So obviously I'm not going to just ask for tickets, this is a big night out for parents. So we did the GooseChase, we had adult themed missions like take a picture of your kids asleep by 9 o'clock, take a picture of you doing some parkour and some mom sent a picture of her jumping over their fire pit or something in the yard. We're engaging them and in general I think the welcome back picnic is similar.

Alecia:

But I did have an idea for the middle school this year, it's not my idea, it's a from PTA, PTO leaders on Facebook thing, because it's also nice that we share ideas. Because you know what? High tide raises all ships, so it's not a competition. This is one thing that I hate about women in general that I think is getting better, but lifting you up lifts me up to. So if our school does something and I share that information with the other four schools in our district, it just lifts all of the schools up and if provides equity and parity for all of the children in the district. It shouldn't be one elementary school doing so much for their kids and one elementary school not able to.

Alecia:

When we share ideas and we share resources, another is, let's say Debora you have a fundraiser coming up with a family fundraiser or with your husband or partner or whoever and you decide, "I wish I could go but I have to work the event. I have to sell tickets, I have to do this." And I could say, "Well how about we do a volunteer swap? Why don't I provide some volunteers to work your even so you can enjoy it? And then you provide some volunteers to work my event later in the year so that I can enjoy it." And then both schools in the district are raising money but also raising a goodness and a kindness that will trickle down to our children and to our community. So I think that makes for a successful fundraiser. We had a lot of people attend Saturday night virtually that were from other schools, why? Because we're supporting their schools too.

Debora:

I love that.

Alecia:

Yeah, I'm joining almost every PTA in my district. Throughout the year I've already joined three, I hope to join all six by the end. You don't have to do it all at once. Buy my membership, my ten bucks or whatever, is going to go a long way for that school and then I'm going to be a part of their email chains and then when they ask for a volunteer, you know what? Maybe I can help out, maybe, or I can at least attend something. I think that helps make it successful, are you reaching out to the other schools in your district? That's just another way that you can bring community together while also fundraising. Again, it's fundraising without even feeling like fundraising, and to me that's what can be successful.

Alecia:

But I did, again, so i said I saw this idea on a Facebook PTA, PTO leaders about a penny war and we've never done it in our district. And I thought, "Gosh, that might be good for the middle school I think." And my mom overhead me, "Mom, yes, tell me about it. What do we have to do?", he's like game mode. And I explained how for every penny it's a point in your bucket but for every silver coin it's a negative for someone else's. "Oh, man, I'm taking like five quarters to Drew's class." He's already lasered in. And so that gets the kids excited, it gets the community together. But the principal, at first, she wasn't sure. She said, "You know, I don't know, we're in a pandemic. There's a coin shortage so it kind of feels wrong to ask for coins."

Alecia:

And then I explained my perspective, this is an opportunity to engage our children and provide learning. So yes, there's a coin shortage, why? Because local businesses and banks need coins that our children and we have at home. They're in our piggy banks, they're in our consoles of our cars, let's take this as a civil opportunity, maybe responsibility, to teach our children this pandemic is so much more far reaching than who feels healthy or who is feeling good. This is about our economy as well. We can do our part by getting those pennies out of our piggy bank and putting them back into the banks or we can take it a step further and ask some local businesses who constantly support our school. "Hey, this pizzeria, do you all need some change because we'll bring you 20 rolls of pennies or $20 worth of coins for a $20 bill." Then we take a picture, then we show community engagement, we put it on social media. Where do you go to get a slice? Go to this place next, they support our school. And what does that all do? It's that it raises your community and it makes it a beautiful place to live. So I think that when you think of fundraising, try to think with that broader idea.

Debora:

Yeah, I completely agree. And there's so many opportunities to leverage what people are already doing. I've heard from a lot of PTA leaders concerned about asking right now in light of the pandemic. They're concerned about people's financial situations and they don't want to be another thing or make another ask. And although I respect that view and I do think that there's a line where you don't want to alienate people by constantly asking and putting pressure on parents at all, you want to avoid that. But I do think that there are everyday opportunities to fundraise that you can leverage.

Debora:

For example, going to your local grocery store and asking the grocery store to donate a percentage of sales to every person who says your schools name when shopping. Or, if the grocery store doesn't have such a program, which a lot of grocery stores do by the way, so make the ask, you can ask for a gift card that they donate and then you can auction that off. Or if you have a persistent online auction all year long that some schools do you can put it up there or if you have a single auction you can do it there as well. Amazon Smile is another opportunity, an Etsy store is another opportunity to fundraise while not asking people for additional things, it's just the things that they're purchasing every day, do it through the school's avenue.

Debora:

Going out to dinner, you mentioned the pizza place, so have the coin unveiling on a night where they give 10% of all proceeds to your school and encourage everybody to come see the coin winner, dine, they replace their weekly night out with that night and everybody wins and you're raising it for the schools. So I think that there are a lot of ways to take what people are doing day to day and just convert that into fundraising for your school.

Debora:

The other advice that I've heard from PTA leaders and would give to others is, just because somebody's financial situation may not be where it appears that they can give, you shouldn't underestimate or make assumptions about their generosity. They may budget for investing in their child's school, you just don't know. And so not making too many asks, absolutely respect that, but making it easy for somebody to give if they are so inclined. Similarly, they may have family members who want to give. Grandparents who say, "I want to invest in my grandchild." Aunts, uncles, people outside of the local school community, they may be in the broader community, they may be in a different country. But they gan give, either through membership, to your point they don't have to have a child at that school to be a PTA member. So encouraging that kind of extension beyond just your school's direct family into the community and giving people an opportunity to give are things that we've seen be successful.

Debora:

And then also converting your typically in person events to something that can still be come in today's world. I want to come back to this in a second to the fairies that you mentioned with the delivers, because I think that is awesome. I heard of something similar today where there's a school who's doing their fall festival and every year they have a pumpkin decorating contest and there's a winner for the top pumpkin. So this year they can't bring everybody together to do that, so what they're doing is you just display your pumpkin on your porch and the judges are going to drive around and score the pumpkin. If you don't do it, you still are bringing together the community. There will be pictures of all those pumpkins, the event can still take place, albeit in a slightly different format. But that reminded me of your delivery, so tell us more about that.

Alecia:

So kudos to that school for not just canceling. They're doing what we ask our children to do all the time. We ask them in a crisis to pivot, we don't say give up, we say pivot. Problem solved, look for another avenue, we say that to our kids. "Mom, I can't find my other sneaker." "Okay, wear your jellies." "Oh." Right? Pivot. So it's the same thing. That school could have said, "Well, we can't have our Halloween event, it's not going to be as fun." But then they're like, "No wait, we can do a drive by." I'm guessing they may have even provided a little map. Our school does something similar with the Clark Griswald lights outside, and we don't participate but my kids and I get in the car and we drive around the town and we see the list so we know which houses are participating and we go there.

Alecia:

So what we did for Saturday night for the parent's night in, is again we have all the prizes on BetterUnite. But then we did the GooseChase, it's a free app, we downloaded the edu version. I think that schools can pay $500 with the edu version, you have to email them, and then you have it for the whole year. We've already used it twice and we've only been in school for one month tomorrow. So we've already used it twice, I know that we're going to use it all year long. And parents were able to do that and we had door prizes for those parents. So the top three winners won door prizes. However, throughout the night we had these PTA fairies. They came to my house, my front yard was the command center. We were spaced out with masks and all of that. But I had my computer, another volunteer over there had her computer, and as we saw hilarious GooseChase missions being accomplished, somebody would say, "Take them a door prize." Like I said, "The dad just did ten pushups with their kids on their back, take them a door prize." Or, "They're showing awesome Meadow Drive spirit wear, take them a door prize."

Alecia:

And so the fairies would go to their stoop and send a text or send a tweet or take a picture and say, "Surprise." And then people would post about it, "Thank you so much." So we had a lot of prizes that we weren't certain about because we aren't sure these businesses are coming back or not, they donated before the pandemic hit. And our even was canceled in April which is why we ended up having it Saturday. So we ended up pairing it with something that they could drink so either way you have a sure bet and not a sure bet. So, "I don't know if this business will come back, but this is a sure bet." So you gave them two things, this and this, in a gift bag. But people love it, people love winning something for nothing.

Alecia:

So as soon as they knew there were PTA fairies willing to drive around the neighborhood and drop off, and we are in an area where most families, the radius is only maybe three or four miles. But it may be harder in a rural community, maybe where I grew up it might be a little difficult. But you can still brainstorm, you can still be creative. You can have a drop off point too, like, "Hey, you win a prize come by the school and pick it up", or you could have it sent home, or whatever it is. But the PTA fairies was a pretty big hit and I could see that happening again. And I thought of it because every year my kids elf other people or they boo other people or they draw something and leave a bag of candy and say, "You've been elfed", or, "You've been booed", and then they have to do it to two other kids. It's this thing, they get so excited to find the little baggy of treats on their stoop. So grown ups are really just oversized children, so.

Debora:

We should be getting our kids more involved in this, they all have the ideas, we're teaching them to pivot, they can now help encourage is to pivot, right?

Alecia:

Right, exactly. Absolutely.

Debora:

I think that you've made this point a couple of times in what you've shared but not explicitly so I want us to talk about it a little bit more is this showing where the money is going to/sharing on social media, that engagement, how do you use that to maximize fundraising? And talk about how you view it because I think your point here is really unique and helpful.

Alecia:

I think it is very important that we remember that when I was the president I still just had one vote, still just paid my $10 just like you, just like everyone else. I might lead but I need to take a lot of votes, I need to ask the membership. My boss, over 344 other members, those are my bosses, we all work together. So I think that it's very important that we keep in mind, again, that we're a not for profit. So on our website I created a tab that says, "Your Impact", so that parents can also go to meadowdrivepta.com and they can look at the Your Impact page. And then they can see, "This is what you have done so for this year", and we start to list the events. This isn't what I have done as the PTA president, this is not what we have done as the officers, this is what you have done with your support of our fundraisers. This is what you're making possible.

Alecia:

So similarly, we had summer reading, so when we give out those medals we need to be clear that those medals are from the PTA. So we might have an assembly in the past, now we might just have a baggy. And on the baggy it's important that there's a label that says, "Congratulations, from the PTA." Or it's important that when you're on Twitter you can write something like, "Hey parents, your kids are coming home with a welcome back gift. You made this happen. Thank you for making this happen." Let them no. "Oh, this is what my $10 goes for", or, "This is what that goes for." When we have end of year gifts, we always have, "Enjoy your summer, love the PTA."

Alecia:

I think it's very important that parents know and see where their money is going so that when we ask for money, which is what a fundraiser really is, they want to see where it's going. So it's like if your kid were to ask you, "Mom, can I have five bucks", you want to see what they paid for. Why do you need five bucks? What's the point of it? So I just think it's important to let them know and social media is a huge way that you can do that. Our district really promotes Twitter. It's my son's birthday today, so I can't wait to see what his teachers post today. So our parents are already on Twitter and they're watching to see what the administration and what the teachers are posting.

Alecia:

So similarly, the PTA should be posting, and we do. We say, "Thank you PTA members for making it possible that we had this living planetarium." "Thank you PTA members for giving the children this awesome field day." And show people, really show them the children's smiling faces and the adults' smiling faces and the fun things that we're able to provide. The school has budgets, don't get me wrong. The school, as a public organization, does have a state funded budget. So it's not really our place as a not for profit to supplement that budget, it's our place to advocate and provide for children.

Alecia:

So does your budget have something for convention? Which we should be going to so we can vote on delegates and vote on resolutions that become laws eventually. So are we doing take action Tuesday which, I think it ends in April, but let's say it's between February and April, are we doing take action Tuesday where we're writing to our senators and legislators which is something like a copy and paste you can send to your members. Are we advocating for those types of things? I just think that it's such a big piece. And then when we are, we post about it on social media. The PTA support this initiative from the New York PTA, or from the California State PTA. How are you using your social media?

Alecia:

As Jeanne said in the beginning of the call, I'm a young adult author, so I have four published books. And when I was first published I read an article in the times that talked about how people want to be your friend so they want to say, "I'm buying my friend Alecia Whitaker's book, The Queen of Kentucky, because I follow her on Instagram or we talk on Facebook or we talk on Twitter." Versus me saying, "Buy this book, on sale now." They also want to say, "Here's me pumpkin picking", "I love this restaurant back home", they want a more immersive experience. And so that's what my takeaway is as an author, which is my business. So similarly, for the PTA, they don't just want to be sold to. They're not just saying, "Hey, now we're doing this fundraiser", "now we're doing this", "now we need this money." We need to say, "We took that money and we spent it on this for your children."

Alecia:

And then a little while later, like I said, you have to space out your fundraisers because at the end of the day people get paid twice a month. Maybe twice a week, but usually twice a month. So it doesn't matter, it's not that people don't want to participate in your fundraisers, they do, they want to help, but give them a break, let them recoop. Also they might have kids, I have three kids in three schools so I want to join all of those PTA's, I want to help all of their fundraisers. So space out the fundraisers, give me some time to participate. I think that's very important, look at your calendar. And it gives you some time to do those give backs.

Alecia:

But I think it's very important to use social media in an intelligent way because perception is reality. Nothing on social media is real life, nobody wants to see me up in the middle of the night with my asthmatic baby, they want to see me like, "Hey, having a great time." Like my six year old had an asthma attack Saturday night in the middle of our event, that's not what I'm showing. I'm just like, "Ladies I'm going to go in here and help my baby out, you all got this?" And then we're posting, "Hey, having so much fun." So you have to think that social media is a tool, it's a tool that can be your best friend, but remember it's not your personal page, it's a business page.

Debora:

I think it's also hard sometimes as a PTA leader, as a leader frankly in any business, you're so immersed in what you're doing day to day that it's hard to remember that other people don't know that. Because you're so in it that it's your reality but that's not necessarily what other people. So just reminding other people, like, "Here's where your fundraising is going. See, school supplies, courtesy of your PTA." The label on the backpack, when you're sending something home physically, "This is courtesy of the PTA." Or more specifically, "This is where your fundraising dollars are going. Thank you for your contribution. These are the three bullet points that we are investing in with your contribution." Whatever it may be, I think that's really important and then I do think making it fun is important.

Debora:

And finally, I think it's also critical to remember that this doesn't only apply to certain types of schools. We work with title one schools, we work with schools in affluent districts, we work with private, we work with public. Fundraising is something that all of those schools do and even if you're a title one school, I think leveraging the fundraising of the day to day that I talked about earlier, like the grocery stores, people are buying groceries. Regardless of their financial situation, they're buying groceries in some way, so leveraging what people are already doing can maximize your fundraising for your school, whatever that means given your community.

Debora:

And again, extending beyond the community. Not thinking of it as just the school but a PTA member can be anywhere. One of my favorite PTA membership drive tips is a school that did a contest, the student who won was the student who got the member from the furthest away. They got a member from over three thousand miles away, kudos to them because you can be anywhere to be PTA member. And to your earlier point, in today's reality those member's from three thousand miles away can participate in online trivia night if they so choose. So I think that's really critical.

Debora:

I know we have to wrap things up here, so if you had to sum up your advice in three sentences or less for PTA's to maximize fundraising this year, what would you say?

Alecia:

I would say that it's very important to be inclusive and embrace the mission statement. I think that's a very big thing. Be inclusive, everybody, don't underestimate anybody, just give everybody a chance. And sometimes people don't want to just answer your flyer, they want you to walk up to them at the bus loop and say, "Hi are you new here?", or, "where are you from", or, "My name's..." So be inclusive.

Alecia:

I think it's important to show not tell. Show and tell what you're doing, again we can learn so much from the children. So show and tell. Show what you're doing, talk about what you're doing, tell what you're doing. And I think it's very important to shift the focus from fundraisers to fun-raisers, so think about it in a new way. And to your point, I meant to speak about this earlier, but what you said with people worried about businesses and worried about supporting business during a time where the economy is taking a little bit of a hit. So if you were to ask a pizza place to donate $20 of a gift card, my family of six can never eat at a pizza place for only $20, but it's a great prize. So it's going to make me do a couple things for that business. It's a very symbiotic relationship, that type of fundraising.

Alecia:

Don't think that they're only giving to you, they're receiving, because then I'm going to be like, "Wow, De'Angelo's supported my school, now I feel loyalty towards that small business. Now I'm going to order from them when my kid has a birthday or I'm going to order from them at another time." And also, when I do go in and use my gift card, I'm going to spend more than the $20. So that's business they're going to get on that evening or day that they wouldn't have gotten normally because I'm going to use my gift card.

Alecia:

So make sure you remember that it is a symbiotic thing, you're not the bad guy for asking. If anything, you're promoting their business and you're giving them a little bit of free advertising. Just be responsible when you ask and make sure to promote their business on your social media or in a journal. It could be an online or paper journal at your event. But I do think that you can really shift your focus and make sure that you're choosing fundraisers that bring fun.

Debora:

Absolutely. And I love the fact that we've talked about how we can learn from the children. And since you're an author I thought we would sum it up with, there's a book called All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten and I feel like that's probably right and applies here. Jeanne, I don't know if we have time for any questions, so I'll turn it back over to you and take your lead on that.

Jeanne:

Okay, thank you Debora, thank you Alecia, we all learned a ton of things here. A couple people had to log off early and they said thank you and they're going to watch the rest when I send out the recording tomorrow as well as the transcript. A woman named Gloria was very interested in how you reimagine community events with COVID restrictions, was absolutely fascinated by that. Overall, the questions and the sheer passion that you show, Alecia, for this is amazing.

Jeanne:

I'd like us to consider possibly for an upcoming, maybe it's not a webinar, maybe we do a scavenger hunt ourselves with the audience just to be able to have it be a teaching moment for everybody. How could you do that in 35 minutes and do it online? We could use the Zoom platform, we could use this GoToWebinar platform. But you had so many awesome ideas. I understood what you were saying, yet I couldn't imagine myself doing it. And I'm a mom of two 22 year old daughters right now and I did a lot of my own fundraising efforts, I did a lot for the school library and loved doing it. It's just, it's hard as you pointed out to get people to be involved. But what you did is you put the fun in fundraising and maybe we could do that. Maybe for our next one we were talking about our next webinar that we're going to be doing on November 4th, maybe that's what we do. Maybe we do it and we show people how it's done.

Jeanne:

Yeah, that's great. So we wrapped up a minute late. Thank you for the 45 minutes, we started exactly at the top of the hour, we're at 46 minutes. I want to honor everybody's attention for coming to this particular event. Thank you Alicia, very, very enthusiastic. You're just so bubbly, have such a great personality. Deb, thank you for bringing her on as a guest and we'll continue to leverage her for our next particular event. So thank you everybody and look forward to getting the recording and the transcript of this event. And Jen, thank you for being my backup today, I really appreciate it.


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