- General Best Practices
There's no denying that frugality is in fashion! As school budgets tighten, many leaders are turning to fundraising to raise extra money to provide educational resources, training opportunities and undertake marketing activities that reflect their school's premium brand. With a considered and organized approach, school marketers from all levels of experience can see their marketing efforts blossom into a successful school fundraising campaign with these 8 essential tips.
1. Have a clear vision
In order to be a successful fundraiser, you need to know what you want to achieve. Having a clear ambitious fundraising vision helps you to decide on the journey your school will embark on to reach its goal. Your vision should communicate a brighter future and focus on the positive aspects of the school rather than taking a doom and gloom approach. It should fully engage the support of your school community and be something that you can realistically achieve within a set timeframe. It's important that your goals excite you and that you can explain the importance of what you are doing, as you'll be the one inspiring your community and rallying their support.
2. Strategize for Success
It's important to have a fundraising strategy in place to direct your activities and ensure you achieve what you set out to do. Having a strategy considerably improves success. It should define your fundraising goals, identify strategic relationships, specify your key strengths and list your priorities. It will help you to decide on the traditional and digital marketing tools that you'll utilize during the campaign and assign the roles and responsibilities of your fundraising team. Taking a professional approach to fundraising ensures that your efforts are consistent, focused and generate results every time.
3. It takes a village to raise a fund!
Fundraising as part of a team offers the benefits of sharing creative ideas and expertise. Given that fundraising involves such a broad range of tasks, from organizing live events to filling in grant applications, it lends itself to the delegation of tasks. If you don't have a fundraising team to hand, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in online communities with like-minded fundraisers.
4. Be curious
From the arts to technology, new buildings and the outdoors, there are many and varied funding opportunities out there that can make a real difference to your school community. You just need to find them and ensure that you are requesting help from the right funder. Most funders have a website which includes details of their charitable objectives, eligibility criteria for funding, and application guidance notes. This information is publicly available, so make sure that you investigate it to help you identify funders that share your fundraising vision and have experience in the areas you have prioritized for support.
5. Consult your community
As with any marketing strategy, it's essential that you know your own situation and understand your audience. Knowing about your school community and the needs of pupils, teaching staff, families and local community members will help you design, develop and implement a fundraising campaign which is meaningful to all those involved. The research that you gather will also prove invaluable when it comes to bid-writing. Making a case for funding based on how your project will make a real difference to the people who will benefit from it will increase your chances of fundraising success.
6. Use Your Strengths
Building on previous success is important for any fundraising campaign, especially if you are engaging in bid-writing and requesting financial support from funders for the first time. Draw on current initiatives in school, accolades, key relationships you have developed with other schools or organizations, or past projects that have already been successfully funded – anything that demonstrates a commitment to excellence.
7. Less Haste, More MONEY!
Timing is everything when it comes to applying for funding deadlines. Your bid-writing must coincide with the timetable of your funder at a time when your school is ready to implement the funding. It is crucial that you allocate sufficient time to plan your project, draft your application, review it and make edits. This is likely to take longer than you assume! Missing a deadline or submitting a rushed application can have a negative impact on your relationship with a funder and may well be a waste of time.
8. Speak Up
If you don't ask for help, then you can't expect to receive any support. Try asking local businesses and shops, community members, and alumni to contribute towards your fundraising campaign. This could be in the form of a cash grant or in-kind support, such as the donation of equipment, resources or professional services — a little can go a long way to achieving your fundraising vision.
Take a look at the Finalsite Giving and Support Pinterest board for examples of how you can use your school website to help raise funds for your school.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia works with schools worldwide to develop and implement social media strategies. She began her career in television and has worked with production companies including the BBC, Disney and Southern Star Australia. Transferring her skills to the corporate world, she has worked as a leadership skills coach and trained teams from blue chip companies including Coca Cola, AMP and IBM. Prior to her current role as Social Media Specialist at FinalsiteUK, Olivia was Deputy Editor for Families Magazine. Holding a Bachelor of Dramatic Art and a Diploma of Digital Marketing (CIM), her blend of experience gives her a unique understanding of audiences, branding, and storytelling. Olivia has 14+ years of experience working in corporate coaching, publishing and digital marketing.