In today’s landscape of constantly shrinking school budgets, the role of fundraising has become even more important to school communities. For both public and private schools, finding funds often requires some creative thinking. One major trend poised to become a breakthrough in the fundraising space is adding online and mobile fundraising to your school fundraising communications mix.
As many of us know, online and mobile tools are being incorporated into every facet of our daily lives, and fundraising should not be the exception.
By taking advantage of online and mobile tools (many of which are now geared specifically for fundraising), school supporters can bring their fundraising efforts to the next level.
School fundraising communications basics:
When done right, fundraisers can help support a variety of school-related causes:
- General program development
- Support of a school trip or other special event
- Raising money for a sporting program
- Providing resources for a band
With so many causes worthy of fundraising support, it is crucial to effectively organize and execute your school fundraiser in order to ensure that you can make a tangible difference in the school community.
Generally speaking, best ways to have a successful school fundraiser are to properly communicate your story, make the donation process as easy as possible, and to increase your overall reach.
Mobile fundraising tools need to be incorporated into other communications tactics to reach the maximum number of potential donors efficiently. I've put together a list of my top 4 tips for a successful school fundraiser.
1. Use your school website
When it comes to fundraising, your school website can be one of your most effective tools, and will act as the base on which to build your fundraising efforts.
Your school website is a central location where the school community can go to find updates - when used properly, your site can also double as a hub for your fundraising efforts.
Two major benefits your website can provide for your fundraiser include:
- Communicating your story/cause - A properly designed website can be extremely effective at communicating the story behind your fundraiser. Great content (images, copy, and design) will help your audience relate to your cause on a personal level, leading to increased participation and proceeds.
- Collecting donations - Using some of the great mobile fundraising solutions available, you can easily embed donation pages directly into your website. Allowing your audience to contribute to your cause online will reduce barriers to donation, a key to increasing your overall proceeds.
One important caveat here - while websites can be a great tool to aid your school fundraiser, it is critical that the site is properly designed. Using a Content Management System (CMS) focused on school web pages can help your school easily set up a well-designed website.
2. Host a mobile silent auction or raffle
While there are many fundraising formats to choose from for your school fundraiser, we’ve seen that some have outperformed others. Silent auctions and raffles create the perfect combination of interaction and engagement, while also giving participants a chance to win a great prize. All of this happens while still supporting a great cause.
Luckily, there are some great mobile fundraising tools available that will allow your fundraising team to enhance your silent auction or raffle and take advantage of online and mobile capabilities.
These tools, provided by companies such as ours (Accelevents), Crowdrise, and Bloomerang, focus on online and text-message based bidding in order to offer major improvements over their traditional counterparts:
- Participants can bid from anywhere - Your supporters no longer need to be at your physical fundraising event, allowing you to reach a much larger potential donor base. You don’t even need to host a physical event.
- No time limit - With online and text-message based bidding, your donation period will no longer be limited to the day or night of your event. Instead, you can open your silent auction or raffle days (or weeks) before your physical event.
Better yet, many of these tools can easily integrate into your school’s website, making your site a one-stop shop for donations and participation in your silent auction/raffle.
The clear benefit of online/mobile silent auctions and raffles is that they afford your donors the flexibility and easy access to donate, while also allowing you to grow your overall donor base through increased reach.
3. Spread the word using social media
Continuing with our theme of online and mobile tools, social media can be an amazing tool for informing and connecting your supporters.
At the most basic level, your school can use social media channels to amplify the messaging and story on your website in order to inform your community about an upcoming fundraiser, and to reiterate the story behind the cause/program that is being supported.
In addition to being a communication tool between your school and your donors, social media is the perfect avenue to increase your donor pool. By using online and mobile fundraising tools in conjunction with your social media channels, you will be providing your donors with a chance to share their donation experience with their audience.
This idea, known as social proof, will inspire others to flock to your story and support your cause. Here is where your website will come in handy, by providing a central location for your potential supporters to donate.
4. Employ text and email notifications
Finally, make use of notifications to your community and potential donors. Notifications fall into two categories:
- Text Messages - With a 99% read rate, text messages are one of the most effective means of communicating with your supporters at large. Furthermore, CMSs and fundraising tools today enable text message notifications.
What does this mean for your fundraiser? Better communication, lower barriers to donation, and higher proceeds.
Using text messages effectively, your team can message your community about an upcoming fundraising opportunity, and can be fairly certain that your message will be heard.
In addition, you can also use text messages to run a more effective silent auction or raffle. With a mobile fundraising solution, you can allow your donors to submit silent auction bids or purchase raffle tickets via text message. This means instant outbid and winning bid notifications, as well as increased accessibility for your donors without the need to download another app.
- Emails - Similar to text messages, emails are a great way to communicate with your school community. When used effectively, emails will help narrate your fundraiser’s story, and help garner donations.
One of our favorite strategies is to use email notifications to inform your supporters of an upcoming fundraiser. In the email, provide a link to your school’s website (which is hopefully integrated with your mobile silent auction/raffle). Including the URL will ensure that your donors have easy access to your website, fundraiser information, and donation channels.
We hope that after reading this post, you realize the sheer power in enabling your next fundraiser with online and mobile tools. While each of these tips will boost your next fundraiser, combining them in a holistic approach can lead to a true transformation that can benefit your school year after year.
If you have any questions about fundraising for your next school event, drop me a line at email@example.com.
Zach Hagopian is the co-founder and COO of Accelevents, a mobile fundraising platform that enhances silent auctions and raffles through online and text-message bidding. An active member in the Boston fundraising scene, Zach focuses on improving traditional fundraising methods and increasing fundraiser proceeds.