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If yours is like so many groups, you depend on a major fall fundraiser for much of your ability to support the school and family activities for the whole year. A rough fall fundraiser can have you playing catch-up for months or canceling activities your school relies on. Not good.

With that in mind, one critical step is starting early. Here are the key points you should check off before you head out for summer break:

1. Your product and company or service. Whether it's a gift wrap sale or pizza kits or a road race or walkathon, you don't want to guess about that and scramble in August. As well, if you had a great company, a great fundraising rep, and strong success last fall, be very careful about switching just for variety's sake.

2. Dates. Look for a perfect window for your sale. When are other local groups selling? (Ask them!) Is your rep swamped during a certain week?

3. Not overwhelming parents. Make sure you leave enough time to welcome and serve your families at back-to-school before you start asking them to reach into their pockets.  

We have a ton of great resources about fundraising planning. Does your group have a new fundraising volunteer? Please be sure to forward this tip (and our site!) to her.