As an organization dedicated to helping education close the funding gap, its important for us to stay in touch with the schools in which we serve. In an effort to better understand the existing fundraising practices of local schools, and their efficacy, we partnered with graduate students Matthew Cornillie and Emily Brown from Loyola University Chicago to send out a simple survey to 100 school administrators, teachers and PTA members. We asked these participants to think of their most recent fundraiser, and then answer a series of questions to drill down how they went about raising money, and which methods they found to be effective.
Specifically, our questions focused on the following topics and questions:
· Which cause did you raise money for?
· What means did you use to collect funds? (Crowdfunding vs. other services)
· How much did you raise per fundraising activity?
· Did you meet your fundraising goals?
· How close were you to/ from your goal?
· How long did your fundraiser last?
· Did your fundraiser involve outside volunteers?
· How many donors made contributions to your cause?
· What was the average amount donated?
· Did your fundraiser rely on individual contributions or did you have corporate sponsors/donors?
· Did you use incentives to help gain more donations?
· Do you think incentive-based fundraising could be effective for your institution?
· Did you utilize social media to help raise donations?
The results were thought provoking. Overall, fundraising efforts are still structured the old-fashioned way, organized by parents and teachers with little outside help, and with funds being collected primarily via cash or check. It would not be a stretch to say that,
Other key takeaways from the survey included:
Based on the results from the survey, all 19 respondents said that they were able to meet their fundraising goals.
School staff members and parents were the primary leaders of the various fundraisers within the school.
13/19 respondents said that they received $5-$50 per donor.
13/19 respondents used cash or check as a form of donation collection as opposed to only 3 that used crowdfunding.
100% of respondents claimed to have met their fundraising goals in their most recent project.
Only 26% of respondents had utilizing incentive-based fundraising. However, over 68% of respondents believe that incentive-based fundraising could positively impact their institution.
While some might argue, based on the takeaways, perhaps these groups might have raised more money if they had used some form of incentive-based fundraiser. However, often times incentive-based fundraisers take money away from the overall amount being raised so as to pay for the incentives, in one form or another. In order to make this method work, the groups would have find out how to in create an incentive to drive people to participate without spending excessive funds on the incentives themselves, as this is money that could contribute to the fundraising efforts.
According to the responses, while meeting fundraising goals does not seem to be an issue, there is room for increased efficiency. School fundraising requires significant outreach to meet the financial goals of the fundraiser. Many sacrifice time and energy and do not receive any personal gains from leading these fundraisers. Volunteers’ time is the largest sacrifice in any fundraiser.
Lastly, it was interesting to see that every group responded saying they were able to hit their fundraising goal. While this is very positive, it may be because fundraising goals were not set high enough. It’s possible that goals could be set higher if an effective tool made it easier to collect donations. It’s also safe to assume that these groups could raise more money and increase their goals if they were able to cast a wider net in the community, perhaps even reaching to neighboring towns.
It is clear that there is a need to bring some of these elements together, help schools to better organize the major pieces of their fundraiser – reaching the most donors possible, setting high fundraising goals, use the latest techniques like incentive-based fundraising. Our current fundraising software, HowToFund, touches on many of these topics, and can serve as a much needed tool for school groups like these.
Special thanks to Matt and Emily of Loyola University Chicago for helping us to put this together!