Balancing Safety and Fun: 5 Tips for School Fundraisers

Thank you, Brad Dowhaniuk for today’s post. Brad is the co-founder of 99Pledges, which provides schools and teams with an easy-to-use, web-based fundraising solution to manage and drive success in Fun Runs, jog-a-thons, baseball hit-a-thons, and much more.

Part of establishing a good culture of trust for fundraising at your school is making sure that everyone involved in your fundraisers has a good time while being safe. Whether it’s physical safety during a more active event or financial safety when submitting a donation, it’s crucial to let your community know you care about them by practicing safe fundraising. To help you rock your school fundraisers, we’ll cover the following fundraising tips:

  1. Follow Fundraising Best Practices
  2. Use Secure Donation Processing 
  3. Choose The Best Fundraisers For Your School
  4. Be Cautious With Online Involvement 
  5. Pick The Best Software

School fundraisers can be a huge success when done right. Make sure you have all the right resources and tips you need to start off strong and finish off even better! 

1. Follow Fundraising Best Practices

Before you can put in any extra effort to make sure your fundraiser goes above and beyond your community’s expectations, you need to make sure you’re working from a solid foundation. No matter what kind of fundraiser you choose to host, make sure you’re following best practices to give everyone a great and safe experience. A few key best practices include: 

  • Get online. Online fundraising is no longer a thing of the future or a “nice to have.” With almost everyone being online these days, an online component to your fundraising is a must-have. 
  • Offer different ways to engage. While having online options is essential, there may still be some dedicated supporters who still prefer to work with cash or checks. Similarly, some supporters may not be in a position to donate, but perhaps they can volunteer time to help you run the fundraiser. Being flexible in this way helps you get the most help out of your community. 
  • Establish consistent branding. Not only does this give your fundraiser a polished and professional look, but it also helps assure donors that the donation they’re making is actually going to you. Especially with online fundraising, this step is crucial. 

Following best practices from the start will help you avoid any unnecessary hiccups and will keep your fundraisers running smoothly and safely no matter what fundraising idea you choose. 

2. Use Secure Donation Processing 

School communities are often much more tight-knit than other communities because you’re not only dealing with adults, but also with their children. Because of the nature of the school-parent relationship, trust is even more important than normal. To help establish and maintain that trust, it’s crucial that you take extra steps to make sure your donation processing is completely secure. This will mean doing your research before committing to a payment processor to ensure that you’re getting what you need to keep your community safe and successfully fundraise.

Not only do you want to make sure that payments are secure to avoid any fraudulent transactions, but you also want to make sure that donating is a positive experience. This means making sure your donation form is easy to use and that you accept different forms of payment. 

3. Choose The Best Fundraisers For Your School

Getting creative and trying new fundraising ideas can be a lot of fun, but it’s always important to keep your unique community in mind. Depending on the student body size, age, demographics and more, some ideas may be better suited for your school than others. 

For example, a fun run challenge with an obstacle course can be really exciting, but it may be difficult for younger children and may exclude differently-abled children at your school. Depending on your specific community, you may want to pick a different school fundraising idea or adapt this fundraising idea to work for your school. 

A few fundraiser ideas you could try include:

  • A bake sale. Not only is this fundraiser delicious, but it’s also a crowd favorite. Students can participate by helping their parents bake yummy treats and your school can benefit from the sales. To make it extra fun, you could allow people to vote for their favorite treat and announce a winner at the end!
  • Parent’s night out. This is a fun and safe option for schools. Give parents the opportunity to have a date night by offering a few kid-free hours. Have them drop off their kids at the school for a movie night or other activity.
  • A walk-a-thon. 99Pledges recommends walk-a-thons as one of the top PTA fundraising ideas out there. They make excellent fundraisers because they can be done in-person or in a hybrid format, and they allow everyone to get involved. Whether participants walk, run, or roll a certain distance, you can have them collect pledges for how far they’ll go. 

Most school fundraising ideas are meant to be safe for kids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are best suited for your particular school. Take the extra step of considering your unique community and how everyone will participate. 

4. Be Cautious With Online Involvement 

While getting online can be a huge help to any campaign, it does come with a few challenges. Whether you’re asking students to use social media to help with the fundraiser or you’re posting photos of students during an event, it’s essential that you have all of your bases covered. 

As part of your digital checklist, consider whether you need parents to sign any waivers or otherwise give permission for any online activities involved in your fundraiser. For any online work involving students, make sure to explicitly express any guidelines or restrictions to both students and parents. 

Getting your PTA involved to help determine what would be best for managing parent permissions and expectations can be very helpful for these types of situations. Typically, this is less of a concern with older children, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry! 

5. Pick The Best Software 

There are lots of different software providers out there that can generally get the job done. However, picking a solution that is specifically software for schools can make a huge difference. When you’re looking for software, look for features that allow you to:  

  • Easily set up a fundraiser
  • Automatically create participant pages 
  • Guarantee secure payment processing
  • Raise money without spending a ton of money

Especially if you’re hosting hybrid or virtual fundraisers, it’s important to have software that gives you the functionality your school needs. Consider exploring virtual software that can help you better execute virtual campaigns. 

When it comes to fundraising in any capacity, you always want to offer your supporters an assurance of security. This is especially important when you’re working with parents and children. Taking the extra time to ensure safety and security while planning your fundraisers can only help. The parents at your school will undoubtedly appreciate all of the effort that you put into making fundraisers enjoyable and safe for everyone involved. 

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