August 13, 2018 | Categories DonorPerfect Fundraising Software, Fundraising Strategies

Nonprofit Technology: 5 Fundraising Strategies for Schools

Capitalizing on Nonprofit Technology: 5 Fundraising Strategies for Schools
This is a contributed guest post by Funds2Orgs.

Nonprofit Technology: 5 Fundraising Strategies for Schools

During a time when schools of all different sizes across the country are struggling to secure enough funding to serve their growing communities, it can be tricky for school leaders to find the time to brainstorm new ways to keep everyone engaged in fundraising.

Fundraising for your school or local PTO is always challenging, but as with any type of fundraising, finding the right tools can make a significant difference. Take note of the strategies of leading nonprofit organizations and look to technology.

Using some smart technology-centric fundraising strategies is a surefire way to help your school or organization thrive even in a time of uncertainty!

Many school groups rely on a set of classic fundraising ideas that, while successful, could do more to get communities engaged or excited in new ways. You should research some creative school fundraising ideas to get the ball rolling, but remember that using the right technology is key to seriously boosting your donations and community engagement.

Here are a few ways to integrate nonprofit technology into your school’s fundraising efforts:

  1. Use social networks to promote your fundraising drives.
  2. Give your fundraisers a digital twist whenever possible.
  3. Always target your messages through multiple outlets.
  4. Get your extended network involved in your fundraiser.
  5. Use digital tools to plan and host smart fundraising events.

Think of these strategies as building blocks for effective 21st-century fundraising. By understanding all the different ways to use new communication technologies for fundraising, it’s easy to get creative and design a campaign that’s perfect for your school!

Use social networks to promote your fundraising drives

1. Use social networks to promote your fundraising drives.

Fundraising drives are a classic school fundraising idea and for a good reason. It’s often much easier to get kids excited to collect physical goods for fundraising or charity purposes than it is to simply send them home with donation solicitation letters!

Harnessing that excitement for fundraising can sometimes be a challenge. Often this happens because schools don’t promote their collection drives to the broader community, instead merely mentioning their collection drive once or twice on a newsletter or invitation.

Developing effective promotional techniques for social networks will boost all of your school’s campaigns and lay the groundwork for sustained growth and development!

For instance, shoe drive fundraisers are perfect for social media promotions because they can be easily integrated into all kinds of events that your school already hosts. It means that you have multiple organic opportunities to promote your shoe drive fundraiser on social media. You might do any of the following:

  • Post some guidelines about how a shoe drive fundraiser works.
  • Create a kick-off video to explain the new shoe drive fundraiser.
  • Post images of where to find shoe collection locations around the school.
  • Promote the shoe drive fundraiser in invitations to other events, like sports games.
  • Post updates on the shoe drive fundraiser, including a counter for filled donation bags.

It’s easy to promote shoe drive fundraisers alongside your school’s other events, primarily through special promotions. Maybe make a social media post explaining that students can bring two pairs of gently worn, used, and new shoes for free admission to the upcoming football game or a free treat at the concession stand!

Remembering to promote your creative drive fundraisers to your digital networks actively is the key to success. After all, it’s often easier for us to remember an eye-catching message we saw in our newsfeed than a small block of text in an email newsletter.

2. Give your fundraisers a digital twist whenever possible.

Think of some classic school fundraising ideas: coupon books, car washes, raffles, fall festivals. Now think of some ways that digital tools and donation methods might improve them.

Incorporating digital platforms or payment methods into your school’s fundraising is a smart move. Not only do they make it easier for more members of your community to engage with your fundraiser, it often reduces the logistical stresses placed on your school overall!

Here’s one example. Your school has almost certainly designed and sold custom t-shirts in the past. As a special memento for students, as an expression of school pride, or for a specific fundraising event, custom t-shirts have been a reliable fundraising staple for years.

There are new digital platforms designed to help you raise more money than ever with your shirts! Selling your shirts through a special crowdfunding campaign has a number of major benefits, including:

  • Selling t-shirts online removes the need for complicated order forms.
  • Online campaigns drastically simplify the logistics of placing orders, collecting payments, and distributing the shirts.
  • Adaptable t-shirt fundraising platforms can increase your profit margins by letting you fully customize your price and fundraising goals.
  • Flexible options allow you to order shirts in bulk directly.

If your school needs new custom t-shirts soon, be sure to check out Bonfire’s guide to getting the design just right!

Offering custom school shirts at events and through order forms is a reliable fundraising method, but hosting crowdfunding campaigns for special-edition t-shirts is a fantastic way to get more of your students and parents interested and engaged.

Try applying this technique of offering classic fundraising ideas through new digital platforms to other fundraising strategies that have worked for your school in the past. Expanding your toolkit might lead to your next breakthrough!

3. Always target your messages through multiple outlets.

One best practice shared by all types of fundraising and marketing is to segment your audience and target your messages. It applies to school fundraising, too!

You already use both printed and digital materials to share updates, make donation appeals, and promote new fundraising projects or events to your community. This is an essential part of maintaining its support, but are you communication strategies as effective as they could be?

That is, are your messages targeted to different audiences? Many schools simply assume that their base of support is entirely composed of the parents of students.

While parents are indeed a huge piece of that base, it’s important to remember that the entire community supports your school, both directly and indirectly.

It means that wherever members of the community with a vested interest in helping your school succeed encounter your appeals, you should try to target your message to their perspective and digital habits. For example:

  • For parents, you might adjust the focus of your communication methods between social media, email, and text updates, depending on their average ages. Creating and sharing content on your school’s social media pages is a great way to keep them engaged.

  • For grandparents, try focusing on email updates, social media fundraising campaigns, and volunteer drives. These tend to be the most effective methods for engaging members of the Baby Boomer generation.

  • For local leaders in the community, send a special email or print invitations to your major fundraising events, and reach out to them on social media. Public figures love supporting their communities (and being seen doing it)!

  • For local businesses, direct mail and email solicitations are effective, but be sure to link them to your digital campaigns. Also, consider inviting them to connect and discuss setting up a sponsorship.

If you haven’t already, find some effective data management tools and institute some data reporting protocols. Even for a small school, taking the time to record and segment your supporter data goes a very long way toward making your communications more effective!

4. Get your extended network involved in your fundraiser.

When it comes to engaging a broad network of supporters, growing your connections, and encouraging support, nothing beats a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

These campaigns are perfect for schools and organizations of any size because every community is made up of a network of relationships. By allowing dedicated volunteers to fundraise on your behalf, you can draw support from further sources than your school initially had access.

Nonprofit and school fundraisers that engage the whole community tend to be hugely successful! Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns make it easy to keep broad segments of your base of support engaged because they’re well-suited to many special fundraising tools and techniques, including:

  • Fundraising contests. Individual peer-to-peer fundraising pages make it easy to track the progress of different fundraising teams. Maybe each grade level could have their own page and compete to see who can raise the most in a week!

  • Special peer-to-peer fundraising tools. Tracking tools, progress bars, and fundraising thermometers are a proven way to generate excitement and build momentum through friendly competition. For more information on why these tools are so effective, check out Qgiv’s explanation.

  • Special fundraising events. Kickoff and grand finale events are perfect for peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. Invite the whole community, but offer special tickets or prizes to online donors or contest winners, too!

One great way to engage the whole community, for instance, is to host a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign leading up to a special carnival or fall festival. Offer special promotions during the campaign to be redeemed at the festival, where you’ll award fundraising prizes and celebrate your success!

Blending new digital fundraising techniques with classic school events and contests is an excellent strategy for engaging a more extensive network of support than ever.

Use digital tools to plan and host smart fundraising events

5. Use digital tools to plan and host smart fundraising events.

As a general rule, incorporating a few new digital tools into your event planning and management process is an easy way to streamline operations. More indirectly, though, smart events will boost donations by engaging your community in new ways.

If your school hosts annual fundraising events, using a new tool effectively might have a huge impact! Here are a few ideas for how technology can boost your school’s major events:

  • Host a community auction night using mobile bidding tools. Student art projects and themed baskets are always favorites!
  • Provide an in-person method of accepting cashless donations and payments.
  • If any venues donate their space for a public event, provide them with digital materials to promote your event, such as a parent or community mixer, on their social media pages.
  • Use a text-to-give platform to accept immediate donations during the event.
  • Find event planning software or CRM tools to plan your event, create a dedicated event website, offer online ticketing, and request feedback in a survey.

Remember, hosting a major fundraising event is useful for two reasons. Not only can you solicit and receive donations and support, but you can also collect invaluable information about the best ways to request help in the future!

Even at a small school with fewer resources, hosting a low-key gala night for parents in the cafeteria can make them feel valued as members of your school’s community. Using smart tools to manage and improve these events is simply the icing on the cake!

Even in a time when schools of all sizes struggle to maintain the funding they need, substantial fundraising opportunities are unlocked by simply finding and using the right keys.

Research the technologies and digital platforms that might be perfect for your school. Not only can they boost donations, but they’ll also engage your community in new ways and keep everyone excited to continue supporting your school!

Written by Amanda Foran