Back to School Week – Raising Charitable Kids

Want to know how to raise children who are charitable?  Like any parenting tips, the following is easier said than done, but the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University has done three years of empirical research on what works best.  Their annual Women Give report is out, and while I’m looking forward into getting into the gender dynamics that it uncovers, I think their insights on the most effective ways to teach children about philanthropy are a perfect way to end our Back to School Week.

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Back to School Week – Services Auction

Sometimes, school fundraisers are about more than raising some money.  Even in communities where it would be very easy for every parent to write a check for a couple thousand dollars to fund the school play or class trip, sometimes holding fundraisers is a good idea for educational reasons: it teaches the kids to work  hard for what they want, to be resourceful and independent, and to appreciate the value of a dollar.

Service Auctions are my favorite recommendation for communities who want to get their KIDS to earn the money they need.

They’re also great for communities on the other end of the spectrum, where students and parents have virtually no cash resources.  (Genius!)  You just have to tweak your technique a little.  Here’s how.  Read more

Back to School Week – Penny Social

Ever hear of a Penny Social?  They were a popular event at my high school and surrounding counties back in the late 80’s/early 90’s…but in my life as a consultant, when I bring it up as a useful twist on the white elephant and rummage sales that some of my clients are planning, it’s like I’ve ceased to speak English. A what now?

It turns out that both fundraising events have some regional differences in popularity and the names we use for them.  One man’s white elephant is another man’s rummage (or yard or tag) sale.

Penny Socials are great fun, good for raising modest amounts from a large number of people, adds to a sense of community by bringing people together for an evening of entertainment, and folks of virtually any capacity can participate, making it wonderful for a school setting.  Here’s how they work. Read more

Back to School Week – How Much is Your Fundraiser Costing You?

I touched on this yesterday, but one of my pet peeves in fundraising is watching people work so hard to raise funds that they’re losing money.  And the biggest reason people fall into this trap is forgetting to value volunteer labor.  I’ve seen people put in hundreds – no exaggeration – of collective man-hours on a gala event that raises so little net cash that they’d wind up losing money if you docked minimum wage for every volunteer hour spent running the thing.

Forget extremes like that.  Any fundraiser you run should aim to do better than passing a plate on day one.  That’s the benchmark you should be measuring against.  If you’ve got volunteers putting in hundreds of hours on a fundraiser, that’s a serious investment.  Here’s how to make that investment count. Read more

Back to School Week – Who’s Your Target?

Here’s a challenge that many organizations have when it comes to choosing fundraising techniques: not spending enough time identifying their target donors for a given strategy.  For any initiative, you MUST be able to answer the question: who do you expect to give you money?

It matters, and when you don’t ask that question, you’re setting yourself up to damage morale, leave a bad taste in the mouth of community members without kids, and fall short of your goals.  Here’s a handy guide to help you figure out WHO you should be asking for money, and HOW you should do it.  These tips guaranteed* to make you sound super smart at the next PTO meeting.

*Development Shrink cannot be held responsible for your getting elected fundraising chair or given other leadership roles as the result of the wisdom contained in this post.

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Mailbag: All alone on the PTO

Q: I stupidly volunteered to be Parent Chair of the PTO at my son’s preschool.  No one else wanted to step up, so I figured I’d take on the Big Job, but everyone else would help out in little ways (I’m usually great at coordinating lots of people pitching in on a project so that everyone’s actually contributing.)  WRONG.  We had one meeting where it was like pulling teeth to get people to even suggest ideas for fundraisers, and now that we picked a couple to run with, I can’t get a single person to help me with ANYTHING.  I’m losing my mind and getting angry and feeling like a failure.  And I don’t know how to turn things around.  I’m not sure what my question is other than …HELP!!!

A: Any time you’re up for a job no one else wants, make sure you fully understand why you’re the only person in the running (especially when they flatter you tremendously by saying that you’re clearly the best person for the job and everyone else wants to remove themselves from the competition because of how spectacularly great you’ll be).   Read more