Like a bunch of people, I’m a pretty active Facebook user and am involved in a few Facebook Groups for PTA / PTO Leaders.
A recent post from another member in one of those groups went a little something like this: “Does anyone know of a fundraiser where you don’t have to sign a contract? I don’t like contracts.”
As a recovering attorney, my “Whoa” alarm went off and I was quick to respond.
“You shouldn’t be avoid of dealing with companies who insist on contacts. You should be running towards companies that offer contracts because contracts protect both parties.”
I went on to explain a few reasons why, but I’ll do you one better and really dig into this deep here and now…
Here are some things you should look for along with questions you should ask before signing a fundraiser contract.
Is the company reputable?
Before doing business with any fundraising company, so some research to make sure the company is reputable.
A quick call or scan of the Better Bureau Business website (or the company’s Facebook page) might be enough to tell.
But don’t be afraid to ask the representative of the company you’re possibly going to be working with for a few references.
But I wouldn’t necessarily ask for “references.”
I suggest asking for names of groups in the area they’ve worked with.
If you’re familiar with any of the leaders of those groups, reach out and ask what the fundraising experience was with the company.
What’s the profit?
The profit margins that PTOs can expect to receive can vary drastically in any given fundraiser.
But this is especially the case with fundraisers that involve a wide barrage of product offerings.
One fundraiser that I was in charge of had everything from magazines to home goods to cookie dough and candy.
And the amount that we would earn from the products ranged pretty wide as well, from 30-50%.
Look at your PTO’s history to see if the fundraiser you’re considering is a good fit.
Not all fundraisers will work all schools and organizations.
Here’s more information on fundraisers that aren’t worth your time.
What fundraising expenses are involved? Who’s paying for the incentive prizes?
These two questions involve a whole host of other questions:
What will it cost you to run the fundraiser?
Do you need to make your own marketing posters to hang around the school?
Will you be charged for extra product catalogues? How will the cost for incentives/prizes be paid for?
Will split between your PTO and the company/representative, or another arrangement?
I think you get the drift here.
You need to come at this question from all angles to get as much information as possible.
How are fundraising order submissions handled?
Who is responsible for inputting orders?
Are all orders are entered manually by the fundraiser host (you, in other words) or is there another method?
Again, minimize the chance for surprise by asking before you sign on the dotted line.
How are late orders handled?
Be a realist and acknowledge that there are always some orders that trickle late.
Will the company still accept them, or are you out of luck?
How do the fundraising orders come shipped- presorted or not?
How the orders will arrive to you is a really big thing to have covered in the contract!
When orders come pre-sorted, the amount of prep time on delivery day is minimized.
For orders that will come un-sorted, you’re going to need space, time and volunteers to get ready for pick up.
How are frozen/refrigerated items handled?
Another sub question is what happens at the end of pick up day for frozen orders aren’t picked up?
In most cases, that’s the responsibility of the group holding the fundraiser.
In some cases, the company may be willing to re-deliver these items for a second-change pick up day.
How long has the fundraiser representative been with the company? What did they do before coming to work for the company?
Now this issue is pretty important too.
Perhaps working with a brand new representative isn’t the best idea.
They’re knowledge of the product offering and work it takes to pull off a successful fundraiser may be limited.
Perhaps you’d not like to be the guinea pig here.
But reps that are new to the positions also can bring a level of passion and hunger that more establish reps lack.
I’m not saying that this should be a deal breaker, but just another factor to take into consideration.
Over to you!
For each and every question I’ve laid out, make sure to get clarity on the answers before signing the contract.
This’ll ensure you’re not surprised on order pick up day, or any other day for that matter!
Any fundraiser surprise probably isn’t going to be a good one, so get as much information in advance as possible!
Even more help!
If you want even more support in the form of a guide that lays out all of the steps to running a wildly successful fundraiser, you’re totally in luck!
I’ve designed just that sort of a guide.
Filled with the best fundraising advice, checklists and forms, it’;s everything needed for a successful fundraiser!