If you are an educator, you understand the challenges of school funding. For decades now, schools have turned to fundraisers to get additional monies for numerous activities, from field trips and athletic teams, to new gym and band equipment. Every fundraising strategy has been tried: candy bars, cookie dough, wrapping paper, even gourmet popcorn and pretzels.

Last year, CBS covered a story on fundraising burnout. Because of the sheer number of fundraisers that are held by schools to meet their funding needs, parents are tired of soliciting funds from friends, coworkers, and family members. What’s the solution? Jon Krueger, executive director of the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors and Suppliers, advises “parent-teacher organizations and others to approach fundraisers strategically

[because] participation rates suffer when schools run too many fundraisers.”

How can you develop a fundraising strategy that gets results and won’t cause fundraiser burnout?

Plan an effective play book campaign.

Here are some tips for kick starting a successful play book fundraiser:

Consolidate Your Fundraising

Parent volunteers are a valuable addition to any school or parent-teacher organization. However, with many volunteers it’s easy for departments to silo themselves and not know what the others are doing. This often leads to numerous fundraising campaigns from different departments, grades, or clubs, resulting in parents being bombarded with fundraiser on top of fundraiser.

Keep it manageable by developing a strategy. Many schools have found it advantageous to drop smaller fundraisers, especially ones that require a lot of volunteer work for little income. Instead, select a fundraiser that is easy to manage, easy for students to participate in, and an easy sell.

Play books fit that bill. The main work is done by a handful of volunteers on the ground who gather the merchant offers. Consolidating your resources across departments will make the merchant spaces easy to fill because of the wider audience range that multiple departments bring in.

Note: Are you thinking of running or helping out with an upcoming fundraiser at your school? Let us send you some free samples so you can have a good idea of what fundraising products are available.

For example, combining the baseball team and the orchestra fundraisers opens up a pool of twice as many students and parents who are actively involved and vested in the school. Those valuable volunteers and their supporters are now united behind one cause. Play book fundraisers are also easy to manage. Proceeds from sales can be allocated evenly between departments, or students can select the cause they want their sales to support.

Make It Easy, Affordable And Useful

A successful fundraiser needs to be easy for your volunteers and affordable for your target audience. Here’s an example: selling frozen cookie dough is a popular fundraiser used by many schools, and it has been successful to a certain degree.

canstockphoto7533506However, apply the three criteria of easy, affordable and useful. The process is really not easy for volunteers. Busy parents must help their students find buyers, collect money, and deliver perishable goods when the dough arrives— usually on a very limited timetable. Buyers really don’t find the dough affordable. It’s often overpriced compared to grocery-store brands, leaving students to find good-hearted buyers who simply want to give to charity. You could argue that dough is useful, but it’s really not a necessity. It’s something your potential buyers could get somewhere else.

Now let’s relate play books to our easy, affordable, and useful criteria. It’s easy for your volunteers. They do not have to take orders and return later with products; buyers can purchase on the spot. There’s no payment deferment, which drags out the collection process and often leads to unpaid leftover merchandise. The convenient merchant ticket books easily accordion fold up and fit into backpacks, purses, car consoles, or briefcases. Play books are affordable, especially when valuable coupons clearly show the buyer that they will quickly recoup their investment. Third, they are useful. When your team strategically gathers coupon investments from local businesses, buyers easily see the usefulness of getting discounts at places they would go to anyway. It’s also a win-win for the businesses that offer the discounts.

Spread The Workload

“Many hands make the load light” is the perfect strategy for avoiding fundraiser burnout. Since play books can involve multiple groups, the burden of raising funds is spread more evenly. These fundraisers require very little involvement from busy teachers, and students from various grade levels can participate. The data-collection phase for the coupons is easy. Simply submit a completed spreadsheet to Electro Image and our graphic designers will do the rest.

Tap the talent that exists in your school. Many parents have careers or jobs that can greatly contribute to a play book campaign. Whether they own their own business and want to contribute a coupon offer, or they have great leadership skills and can rally all the participants, having a strategy for your fundraiser will ensure that all the roles are filled by highly capable volunteers. Get volunteers excited and committed by having a transparent volunteer process. Clearly explain where the funds are going and how their kids will benefit. If it’s a cause parents really believe in, they’ll want to support it.

The majority of parents and community members want to contribute in a valuable way to their children’s education. However, complicated campaigns that constantly pound consumers all year in order to make them have to choose between giving to only one fundraiser, or just giving a little to multiple fundraisers. Neither of these options is best for the schools involved.

As the fundraising coordinator, you understand how frustrating these roadblocks to a successful fundraiser can be. By planning a creative fundraiser that requires a minimal time investment, but yields a big return, you’ll be able to sell more efficiently, and keep your fundraising team motivated. Not only this, but by offering families products that are affordable and genuinely useful to them, you give them the opportunity to invest more money to support their children and schools than they otherwise would have been able to. For parents and for fundraising volunteers, play books can be a breath of fresh air for your current, and future, fundraising needs.