For children there is always some sort of “incentive” in a school fundraiser. Whether it’s the goal of getting the top prize or the goal of beating a classmate or friend in “sales”. Children, most often, will feel the “excitement” within a fundraiser before a parent will. This isn’t to say that parents don’t enjoy fundraising or “lack” the incentive to help fundraise for their child, but for the most part, parents often describe fundraising as an “unpleasant” event. This is especially true for PTO MOMS and Booster club members. So how can PTO’s make fundraisers more exciting for parents? By creating meaning, incentives, and ease.
When I use the word “meaning” I’m describing the “importance” or “significance” in a fundraiser. Parents need to know why the fundraiser is important for THEIR child. Most importantly a parent wants to know what is in “it” for them. So prior to fundraising season, it’s important that PTO and Booster members send out “informational packets” about upcoming fundraisers. In the packet address WHY the school needs the fundraiser–is it for uniforms, for a new computer lab, etc. Explain how raising that money will impact each and every child. Finally explain WHY it’s important that the parent commit a certain amount of time in helping sell the product for the fundraiser. All of this will paint a clear and “urgent” meaning for the parent. At Paper For Good we’ve found that parents are much more likely to be involved in a fundraiser if there is meaning.
Incentives for parents are truly no different from creating incentives for the children. Incentives motivate us to “want” to get to a certain goal. Without an incentive there isn’t much of a “drive” or even a point for that matter–in reaching that outcome. For children it’s much more measurable when we creative incentives–kids know that if they sell X, the school raises Y, and they get Z. With parents of children the incentive isn’t as “visible”. Obviously from an outsider perspective the incentive is that if parents help sell X, and the school raises Y, then their children will get Z as a result. But to a parent the “Z” can be “lost” in the scheme of things. So at PFG we propose that PTO and Booster members “Spell” out what “Z” is. If parents know that the “meaning” of the fundraiser is that the students raising Y amount of money to get a new computer lab, then obviously the “Z” is the computer lab. That should be easy to define, right? Well–it’s easy once you define why the computer lab is an incentive for the parent. It can be a long the lines, of MORE computers for each child–which means their child can go to the library and do research in ways they weren’t before. It could be that children get certain “benefits” from updated computers that impact learning in a positive manner. It’s “painting” the incentive in a way that directly BENEFITS the child, without the parent having to shell out his or her own cash, which really helps a parent WANT to be involved in the process.
Finally when a fundraiser is simple and easy for a parent to navigate a parent will be more open to involvement in the fundraiser. What do I mean by simple and easy? I mean a fundraiser where parents can help sell the items in a flexible manner. Where the parents aren’t “worried” for time. Where parents understand the catalogue or can pass it off to colleagues and family members. For instance with the PFG fundraiser we’ve set it up so that orders can be made online. So that “door-to-door” sells are avoidable. We have samples that we give out to our fundraiser members, which make it that much easier for the parent to understand what they are selling. Furthermore we offer plenty of resources that help the parent and the child in selling our product. This makes it easy, flexible, and completely simple for the average parent to understand and sell.
It’s these type of qualities that make a fundraiser parent-friendly and in turn creates parental involvement.