If you’re in an area with many different schools, it may seem as though you’re competing with everyone else in the district when fundraising time rolls around. Even the kids with large, supportive families are competing with cousins and siblings, all of whom are selling cards with only a few basic differences. You want ensure that your card is the one that everyone in the area can’t wait to get their hands on, but how do you make sure that your fundraising efforts are a cut above the rest?

First things first: use our Excel worksheet, which you’ll populate with the merchant offers, after you have the merchant agreement form signed by the participating merchants. We can print two-part and three-part merchant-agreement forms for you, as well.

Now, in addition to your professionally designed cards, you will also need an organized and focused fundraising strategy. Try these four tips for successful fundraisers that will make your school stand out from every other school in the district

Offer the Best Deals

If you offer the best deals on your plastic discount cards, your cards will be the ones that everyone wants. However, getting merchants to offer you those great deals isn’t always easy. Many businesses will offer a standard discount to anyone who approaches them, and others may want to offer a discount to only one school at a time. This means that you have to be at the top of your game.

Start early. If you’re the first one to visit a business, you’ll likely be the one who will hook the discount. That means that you need to start planning your fundraising cards as early as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute to contact local merchants, especially if they’re a popular business.

Send someone persuasive. If you’re not an outgoing people person, and you have no idea how to convince a local business owner to participate in your fundraiser, consider sending someone who is persuasive and charismatic. If you can, it’s even better to send a student who is involved in the organization that you’re trying to support: a cheerleader, a football player, or simply a student eager to support her school. Often, kids are much harder to turn down than adults.

Target business owners who have kids or other relatives in your school. Business owners who have a personal interest in your school will be more likely to offer a discount. Be sure to emphasize the importance of these fundraising efforts to the students in your school. Give them an idea of how many cards you think you’ll sell and what you’ll be using the money for once the funds are raised.

Offer Variety

Not every business that you visit will appeal to the supporters buying your cards. If you want your fundraising efforts to stand out from the other schools in the area, you need to offer cards that will appeal to a wide variety of individuals. The more businesses you can get to support your fundraising effort, the better the odds that something on the card will appeal to the person your students are trying to sell to. Don’t be afraid to branch out. Sometimes, it’s that offer that you don’t think anyone will ever use that will create the highest level of interest.

Restaurants offer great appeal to many different people–especially a couple of months into the school year, when everyone is busy and looking to grab a quick meal out rather than cook at home. In order to maximize the appeal to supporters, try to offer discounts from a variety of restaurants: some fast food, some delivery options, and some sit-down dining.

Snacks and treats are more likely to attract a younger audience. Many high-school students even buy their own cards to get the discounts at these locations. Do you have a local ice-cream or frozen-yogurt spot that will support your school? What about a bakery? Approach different businesses to see what deals they might be willing to offer your supporters.

Oil-change and car-repair shops can offer some of the most valuable benefits and are popular with parents. Visit some trusted and reputable automotive-repair shops in your area, and see if they’re willing to support your fundraiser with special discounts on services. Even if these deals are the same ones offered in newspapers and online, the convenience of having a card in a wallet will sell many individuals on the cost of your card.

Store discounts are another great way to entice supporters. Seek out unique or boutique shops in your area that are looking to gain exposure. Also, consider reaching out to niche stores that are especially useful around the holidays, when people are busy shopping for friends and family.

Create Eye-Catching Cards

Don’t forget that one of the most important parts of a successful fundraiser is an eye-catching and professional plastic fundraising card. At Electro Image, we have a team of graphic designers on hand to help you create a colorful, visually stunning card that embodies the spirit of your fundraiser. Your custom design can include school logos, colors or mascots, event calendars, motivational messages, merchant logos, or a list of participating retailers.

You may even consider giving students the opportunity to design the reverse side of the card, in order to make the fundraising process more fun and personal. The student chosen will be eager to share her cards with everyone she knows, and the idea that the card was designed by a student will be an extra selling point for supporters.

Be Different

If you’re competing with other schools in your district, you’ll need to stand out. So be different, and offer people a different plastic fundraising product, that others aren’t selling. For instance, if everyone else is promoting a card with three-key tags, then you could offer a card plus four-key, or even five-key tags. Remember, your fundraiser is for a good cause, but the same basic marketing principles are still in action. Stand out, and offer something that no one else is.