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How to Avoid a Failed PTO Fundraiser

When you’re putting in a ton of time on anything, you want to see it be successful, including PTO fundraisers.  

It’d be a real shame if all of your hard work didn’t pay off in a big way!  

This post will cover three of the biggest mistakes PTOs make when it comes to fundraising.  

Once you know the mistakes, you can avoid them and have a super successful school fundraiser!

Plan out the details

If your PTO is going into the school year without a plan, then you’re definitely headed into rough territory.  

All successful fundraisers are planned.  

They’re not simply thrown together at the last minute with no attention to the little details.  

No, no, my friend.  The planning out the little details is a huge difference maker!

For example, far too many PTO Fundraising Chairs aren’t very strategic about when they decide to hold a fundraiser.  

You’ll have the most fundraising success when it is strategically planned to not conflict with other school and  PTO events.  

Parents are juggling a lot and can only take in and act upon so much information.

So the planning the timing of the fundraiser is key to success.  

Make sure to plan around other major events happening in your PTO, school, community and holidays.

Planning your fundraiser the right way, is a huge difference maker!

Set a fundraising schedule that make sense for your PTO, your school and your community.

For example, if your school decides to run a fundraiser a month or less away from the PTO’s fundraiser, that’s going to negatively impact your fundraiser. 

The closeness in time of the two fundraisers will hurt whichever fundraiser is second.  Guaranteed.

So really look at your school and PTO calendars and figure out when it the fundraiser makes sense. 

Think about any conflicts that could come up from the time the fundraisers opens all the way through to the time orders are picked up. 

Promote early and often

It’s no longer the case that you can just build a field of dreams and people will come. 

In terms of PTO fundraising, that means you can’t just send home the catalogs or a flyer about the fundraiser and sit back while waiting for the orders and money to come rolling in.

No, you must be promoting the fundraiser along the way. Before it starts and also throughout the fundraising period.

Families are so busy with other commitments.

The PTO fundraiser probably isn’t going to be top of mind.  

Fundraisers that reach or exceed the goal have a good mix of promotion and publicity before and during the fundraising period.

In fact, if you really want to be successful, you should be promoting the fundraiser before it even starts! 

Depending on the type of fundraiser you choose to put on, you might have to prime the pump a bit to get students and parent excited to participate.

If you have a product based fundraiser, you can do this by giving a preview of items that’ll be available for sale. 

Put out a selection of items at the PTO meeting that is right before the fundraiser’s start and also at school events. 

If there aren’t any in-person opportunities to showcase the fundraising wares, create some social media posts to feature various products.

The Right Products

Another way a fundraiser can falter right out of the gate is when the products themselves have no legs and are duds.  

Yes, the products you’re selling need to be high quality and have a wide appeal to your school community and families.  

Fundraising catalogs get a bad rap because so many of them feature items that are junk.  

Well not true junk, but junk in the sense that they are overpriced and of poor quality!

Give your fundraiser a fighting chance by carefully selecting quality products that will appeal to a broad spectrum of potential buyers.  

This’ll help avoid low participation rates just because no one wanted the items you were offering for sale!

Good products sell themselves.  

Listen, parents have seen enough fundraising catalogs from your PTO as well as friends and family, so make sure to pick something they haven’t seen a million times over.

Also, no one wants to pay for overpriced imported crap. 

Not even if its for a good cause!

So before you settle on the fundraiser for the year,  flip through the catalog and see what you’re interested in buying. 

But look closely! 

If you’re not seeing at least 5 things that you personally would pay for, then move on to the next fundraiser option. 

If nothing’s catching your eye, then it’ll be about the same for others as well!

Watch this!

I dive into this topic a bit more in this video.

How to Avoid a Failed Fundraiser as a PTO PTA

Need even more help?

This post really is just the beginning of what all Fundraising Chairs need to know in order to be successful!

If you’re looking for the shortcut to fundraising success, I recommend you get the Fundraising Success Kit.

colorful resources for PTA PTO fundraising

The kit includes a binder to get everything organized, a strategy plan to follow, plus essential worksheets and forms designed to reduce how much time you spend prepping for your fundraisers.

There’s also even more specific guidance on the entire fundraising process, including a 6 month detailed timeline to follow!

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