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5 online fundraising opportunities for school foundations

5 online fundraising opportunities for school foundations

It’s back-to-school season. As parents and children prepare for another school year, it’s time for school foundations (and even the PTA/PTO) to prep for school fundraisers. While you may have some great ideas about raising money for your school through movie nights, bake sales and color runs, this year it’s all about the online giving opportunities.

Why raise money for your school online?

Parents are growing weary of selling products (we all know the drill—wrapping paper, frozen pizzas, magazines). School fundraisers held online can be an easy (think less stress!) way for parents to support fundraising initiatives at your school and, sometimes, can replace or complement what you typically do offline. Online options also provide a way for those that don’t live nearby to support your cause, event or school in general.

Think about your school foundation’s role

We know that funding for schools can be hard to come by and that teachers that have classroom needs will even go out on their own and either purchase supplies with personal funds or set up giving pages on GoFundMe or DonorsChoose (in fact, 81% of U.S. schools have at least one teacher who has listed a project on this site). It’s important to work collaboratively on fundraising for your schools. One way to get everyone on the same page is to draft fundraising guidelines and set up in-house fundraising tools for the district (or school) so that it’s a true partnership and there isn’t anyone going rogue with their fundraising initiatives.

Likewise, set a mission statement and define the role of your foundation. This will help educate potential donors, parents and administrators upfront about your goals for supporting the school. Encourage a partnership in fundraising initiatives between everyone involved at the school and emphasize the importance of how your school’s foundation can shorten the funding gap by augmenting salaries, purchasing materials and supplies, and supporting additional programs at the school.

Online fundraising opportunities for school foundations

Online fundraising is here to stay. And, if your district or particular school already has strict guidelines on which fundraisers are allowed (i.e. a ban on online fundraisers by teachers) then as the school’s foundation, part of your goal will be around raising funds to better the experience, environment and education of students. And, by setting up your own, in-house opportunities, it not only lessens the overall cost and fees, but it also provides you with the opportunity to truly customize your school’s online fundraiser.

Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Annual fund campaign

Ensuring that there is always a “donate” button on your school’s website for everyday donations is an easy way to continually promote your foundation’s ongoing annual fund. Encourage annual support from community members, parents, grandparents and alumni through the use of an online landing page. Highlight the impact each donation has on your school and education everyone about the annual fund during key events such as school kick-off day, new student/returning student orientations and in monthly school emails.

Everyday donation page of the Cobb Schools Foundation
Everyday donation page of the Cobb Schools Foundation

2. Monthly giving campaign

Most parents will have children enrolled in your school for many years—this is a great opportunity to encourage monthly giving. Think about creating an exclusive club for parents that give monthly. Maybe it’s a customized parking spot in the school’s lot to highlight a new donor each month. Imagine how donations add up if your families gave monthly starting in kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. Start with your one-time donors and work your way up—here are some strategies for how to turn one-time donors into monthly donors as a way to build your foundation’s total dollars raised each year.

Boston Trinity promoting their monthly giving club on their website
Boston Trinity Academy promoting their monthly giving club on their website

3. Events and sponsorships

You may have a host of small businesses or corporate sponsors looking to support your schools. Give them the opportunity to do so online and then feature them on the school’s website, in sports programs or on school marquees. Online event registration is another way to tie in sponsorships—plan your fundraiser events to include additional donation options upon online ticket purchase or sign up.

Online event registration page via Thomas Jefferson Partnership Fund
Online event registration page for a Thomas Jefferson Partnership Fund event

4. Capital campaigns

Think of these as your project-based campaigns for specific (big) needs at your school. New gymnasium floor? Update to soccer fields? Addition of classrooms or smartboards? These online fundraisers can showcase progress on your landing pages with thermometers that track dollars raised to create momentum toward your goal.

Pinecrest Academy capital campaign
Pinecrest Academy promoting a capital campaign via their website

5. Peer-to-peer fundraising

Everyone loves a little competition and peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to foster that. By using this method of fundraising, you can have classrooms competing against one another and also solicit parents, grandparents and/or students to create individual online fundraising pages. This is a great way to raise money for bake sales, 5k events or walk-a-thons because you can get others who are not close geographically to still participate in the cause. Grandma across the country? No problem! Send her the landing page for her granddaughter’s color run and she can still support her from miles away.

Peer-to-peer fundraising event from MFEE
Peer-to-peer fundraising event from Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (view case study)

Don’t get us wrong—selling products can still be a valid way to raise money for your school. This year think about how you can tie in online processes to the physicality of the fundraiser. Online order forms or signs and flyers that direct people to online landing pages. Schools that provide spirit wear or team sports gear as fundraisers may consider adding an extra donation option at the time of purchase.

We work with many public and private school foundations and would be happy to chat with you about your online fundraising or event registration needs. Contact us to set up a time to talk about your needs.

Think your school could benefit from a foundation? The National School Foundation Association has great resources for those looking to start a foundation—this can be a great way to continue to support our schools and our youth.

Want to raise more money online? Get in touch.