Causera.org, an ecommerce platform dedicated to simplifying fundraising, recently surveyed over 1,000 parents nationwide to learn what parents do and do not like about their child’s school fundraisers, and how to get parents more involved.
Almost everyone fundraises… and most parents believe that fundraising is a good thing
According to Causera’s survey, almost everyone fundraises.
- 96% of parents reported that their children’s schools engage in fundraising activities
- 40% indicated that fundraising activities are frequent
- 43% said that these activities are occasional
- only 13% said that fundraising is rare at their schools
Most parents think their schools should fundraise.
- 77% of parents still think their child’s school should fundraise
- 80% believe students would perform better in a school with increased funding
Not surprisingly, 89% of surveyed parents admitted to helping out their schools by planning fundraisers, helping sell fundraising goods, or donating money to their school. In other words, parents want to lend a hand.
Most schools raise money by selling products or asking parents for donations of money… but parents are looking for alternatives
Products sales continue to be the most ubiquitous school fundraiser.
- 58% of parents indicated that their schools participate in selling candles, cookie dough, or other goods.
- 55% said their schools offer spirit gear to their communities, although spirit gear campaigns are often intended to build community pride rather than raise a lot of money.
- Other popular fundraising activities include: dining discounts (38%), direct requests for money (36%), scrip and online mall programs (36%), paid and community events (36%), and auctions (31%).
Despite the commonality of product sales and direct requests for money, more than 30% of respondents dislike or hate these fundraisers. What they prefer are scrip and online mall programs (87%), paid and community events (84%), and spirit gear sales (82%).
What parents like and dislike about fundraising.
Consistent with these preferences are the top reasons parents dislike fundraising
- 60% parents don’t want to go door-to-door or hit up friends
- 45% find it hard to find volunteers
- 39% think fundraising is just too much work
What they do like about fundraising is:
- benefiting their child’s school by in additional revenue (56%)
- having the opportunity to give back (45%)
- gaining access to deals or products (43%)
- doing something fun with their child (41%)
Choosing the right fundraising activity.
In light of these factors, schools should choose fundraisers that better cater to their parents’ likes and dislikes. Interviews with parents suggest that the ubiquity of product sales and direct requests for money, despite the mixed feelings about them, come from the fact that these fundraisers are extremely effective at generating revenue. Schools might consider coupling a direct donation campaign with spirit gear and other thank you gifts. This approach is taken by many public radio stations in their fundraising drives. When considering a product sales fundraiser, schools should investigate new types of products or unique spins on traditional fundraising stand-bys. For example, schools could offer a cookbook with recipes from students in each class, online cooking classes, or a subscription to a meal planning service, instead of selling the same-old candles and cookie dough. If a school is committed to selling candy, it should consider a chocolatier like Imagine Chocolate that breathes new life into the genre by offering music-inspired, gourmet chocolates.
Bottom Line: Fundraising needs to be easier!
Ultimately, parents understand the importance of fundraising and enjoy building community and showing school pride. But they dislike making uncomfortable appeals to friends and neighbors and finding armies of volunteers to staff fundraising campaigns. Fundraising as it exists at most schools today takes too much work.
When given a list of potential features that could improve fundraising, parents expressed a clear preference for three features:
- A way to leverage parents’ buying power by having a portion of the purchase price benefit their school (58%).
- Online and mobile tools to make it easier to fundraise (53%).
- An easy way to share fundraisers with friends and family (46%).
These preferences speak to parents’ desire for fundraising to be easier.
Scrip programs and online malls already allow parents to direct a percentage of purchases from select merchants to their schools. The challenge facing schools is training supporters to consistently use these programs and go through online links before they make purchases. One solution is to place shopping links in a easy-to-access location, such as a centralized commerce site where supporters can also engage in other fundraising activities like buying spirit gear or making donations. However, even efficiently-run scrip and online mall programs typically only raise a small percentage of the school’s overall fundraising revenue.
Accordingly, online and mobile tools are likely to have a larger impact on fundraising outcomes in the long term. Schools wanting to increase parent fundraising involvement and school funds can use online and mobile app fundraising solutions (including those provided by Causera.org), to cater to their parents’ desire for fundraising ease and efficiency. Furthermore, by pursuing a diversified fundraising strategy that includes online mall programs, community events, and spirit gear fundraisers, schools can find common ground between parents wanting fun, convenient fundraisers and school officials hoping to meet their school’s fundraising goals.