You have just covered the swimming pool and put away all of the summer toys. You pulled out the snowblower and performed your annual maintenance to prepare it for the snow and slush of the upcoming winter. Should you really be thinking about spring fundraisers already? The answer is a resounding “yes!”

One of the keys to a successful fundraising event is timing, and advanced planning is an essential ingredient to the perfect timing of fundraisers. Below are some guidelines for preparing for your upcoming spring fundraiser in regards to advanced planning.

Setting Goals and a Schedule

Non-profit organizations should determine their objectives and set goals not only for the overall accomplishments, but for each particular event. When setting goals, timelines are of utmost importance.

Begin by setting an annual schedule that will cover all fundraising activities, deadlines for deposits, and other important dates. Each fundraiser must have:

  • Lead time
  • Sales period
  • Delivery (if applicable)
  • Wrap-up

Consider purchasing a calendar specifically for your fundraising activities. Block off three sets of six-week periods, one of each of your major fundraising campaigns. These periods should take into consideration other activities, holidays, school events, and so on. Leave space between each six-week block so that you are not wearied by continuous fundraising. Plan at the very least to have two weeks of rest between completing the final phase of one fundraiser and beginning the planning of the next.

Scheduling for Each Fundraiser

After you’ve determined when you will do each fundraiser throughout the year, it is time to focus on each individual fundraiser. Choose what you will do for each activity and fit it into the best time slot.

There is much to do to prepare and plan, so spring sports, activities, or events should start now. Consider that you will need time to:

  • Plan
  • Select an appropriate fundraiser
  • Order sales material

All of this needs to be accomplished prior to the actual fundraiser. Also take into consideration that funds need to be acquired to order uniforms for sports, purchase supplies, and buy other necessary items or supplies. All before the actual event even begins in the spring. Starting early and planning ahead will help you be prepared for when the spring flowers start to bloom, the first baseball of the season is hit, or the first volleyball is served.

Planning for Spring Fundraisers

Once you’ve gotten everything positioned into six-week blocks, you can begin focusing on the fundraisers you’ve selected. Now is the perfect time to begin planning for spring fundraisers so that you will have plenty of time for:

  • Planning
  • Preparation
  • Execution
  • Delivery
  • Wrap-up

Planning

Planning should include assigning organizational roles, finalizing all decisions, and preparing a plan of action. This should be penciled into the first few days of week one in your six-week time period and include an outline of the fundraiser you’ve chosen.

Preparation

Immediately following the planning phase comes the time to prepare. During this time period, you should order all sales materials, arrange meetings with volunteers and students alike, begin to publicize the fundraiser, contact sponsors and merchants, and complete any written documentation required for the fundraiser.

The preparation phase will fill out the rest of the first week and go into the beginning of week two on your calendar. After you complete all of the preparation, you are ready to begin fundraising.

Execution

Here is when the actual fundraising begins. The brochures, catalogs, order forms, gold cards, or merchant tickets are handed off to your students or volunteers. Allow students and their parents at least a day or two to review the materials and ask any questions and then sales should begin being collected.

Pencil the execution phase of your spring fundraiser for the second half of week two through the end of the fourth week. This gives you and your sellers three weekends to conduct sales, and weekends are prime sales time.

Delivery

After the sales are concluded, it’s time to tally and batch the orders as required by the supplier and then await delivery. The actual time frame will depend on the fundraiser you’ve chosen, but it typically will take up two weeks to await delivery, sort the products, and then distribute it to the students for delivery.

Wrap-up

The last week of the six-week period is when you will need to complete record-keeping tasks and perform any follow-up that is necessary. You will also want to look at your results and see how well the fundraiser went and where you can improve next time. Be sure to take the time to thank your supporters, as well.

Purpose of Advanced Planning

Planning for your spring fundraiser will save you both time and money. By taking the time to work out every detail and outline the process of your fundraiser, you will be able to effectively work around other events and functions. You will also come across any problems on paper before you run into them in reality, allowing for time to readjust your plan as needed. Advanced scheduling also allows your organization the ability to find the best time to sell, thereby maximizing the results.