save our schools: 10 tips to raising funds
No matter where you live, budget cuts seem to be hitting public school classrooms. Friend of Ricki Shara Lawrence-Weiss, a mother of four kids ranging in age from six months to 13 years, shares ten key ways parents can raise money for their child's school
Shara Lawrence-Weiss: If your life is anything like mine, you’ve lived through your fair share of school fund-raisers. I’ve worked in preschools, elementary schools and private homes as a nanny. I’ve participated in many fund-raisers over the years from fun to…downright annoying. A friend of mine, child psychologist (and fellow Friend of Ricki) Ava Parnass, told me about her least favorite fund-raiser: The school makes parents sit through 60 performances of mostly un-interesting skits. Of course you have to go as your child is one of the 60. I’d rather mail in the check but I go and smile!
Here are a few alternative ideas you might consider when raising funds for your local school:
Social Media For the last two years I’ve run online fund-raisers through Twitter and Facebook. Our local school has a significant low-income rate. 67 percent of our kids are on the free meal program and many of them had never owned a school yearbook before. I ran fundraisers in order to secure enough money so every kiddo in the school could get a yearbook. The school already had some money raised, I simply gathered up the rest needed. Some folks donated $3 and others donated $50 or $100. I raised almost $500 in less than 24 hours (my first year).
Cookbooks Put out a request to your online friends, asking for recipes. With their approval, all recipes can be added to a recipe book you bind at home using a comb binding machine (quite affordable). Bind the recipe books and then sell them online for just a few dollars each, plus shipping. If you feature children’s favorite family recipes, most of those parents will circle back to buy a book in order to use the recipes and/or to have as a keepsake.
eBooks Create an eBook full of parenting ideas, outdoor games, make-your-own toy ideas, holiday gift ideas, back to school tips or something similar. Sell the eBook for $2 and donate the funds to your local school.
Collaborate If you own or run a business, consider putting together a podcast or webinar with a few fellow colleagues. Offer helpful advice, tips, start-up information or social media marketing ideas. Allow others to download or watch for a small fee and let them know the funds are being donated to a worthy cause.
Organize Sites like VolunteerSpot.com allow you to organize and structure volunteer projects through their network. Sign up and look around. Download their free eBooks that offer helpful tips that might aid in your quest for fund-raising ideas.
Greetings One year my son’s teacher had the kids decorate cards. Each one was hand stamped, painted or drawn on. She then wrapped the cards in cute ribbons and we purchased a pack of 5 for $5. The teacher used the money for her classroom needs and we parents used the cards to send out (unless you were like me – I saved my son’s cards because I didn’t want to part with any of them). You could do something similar by inviting your online friends to have their children submit artwork that would later be turned into cards. The parents could purchase the child’s cards through your site or blog and all funds would be donated to the school. Sites like DisplayMyArt.com can assist with this, also.
Online Book Fairs We all know the large book companies run many fund-raisers each year. There are smaller mom/pop book stores doing this online now, too. Online bookstores like SlimyBookworm.com give parents and teachers a new option for book buying and raising needed funds.
Allow Donations Online ChipIn.com allows you to raise funds right through your site or blog. Better yet, they state: “ChipIn does not charge any fees to organizers and contributors of events that send payments directly to the Organizer’s PayPal account.”
Garage Sale Another person’s trash = your treasure. Ask local neighbors if they have products to donate that might otherwise be tossed out or given away, etc. If they are willing to donate, you could then sell the items online to raise funds for the school. Be sure to let your neighbors know about your intensions to re-sell. You may even score some antiques along the way that will sell for higher prices.
Sponsored tweets If you have a large twitter audience, consider selling tweets to people who want to promote a web site, product, sale, holiday item, blog, book, etc. This is both legal and ethical. Twitter simply asks that you label these tweets with a hashtag like #ad or #sponsored or #fundraiser.
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of MommyPerks.com, an online community for moms and business owners. Shara has a background in education, early childhood, business ownership, nanny work, special needs and volunteer service. She is the secretary of her town charity group and the treasurer of her local library board. Connect with Shara on Facebook and Twitter.