Question: Should we ask for donations instead of fundraising?

We’ve been debating whether or not to eliminate fundraisers and just go with a donation program. We seem to get more and more complaints about our fundraisers and think we can do better with donations. Have you heard about schools doing this?

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Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

Elly has definitely heard of groups going this route, but with mixed results. Often, a switch to a donation program is met with a positive response at first, especially if your group has been practicing fundraising overkill in recent years. You may even wind up with a similar amount or more net dollars. (Remember, you keep every dollar raised through direct donations.)

The downside, though, is that in almost every case we’ve watched, the program loses effectiveness over time. As new parents come in or as supporters get more removed from the perceived headaches of sales fundraisers, the donation program comes to be viewed as a hand-out. On the other hand, supporters seem to see sales fundraisers as getting “something” for their money. Going back to fundraisers after dropping them for a year or two could be more difficult than fundraising straight through.

The best way to stay out of this situation is to be very careful about how you raise funds. Raise less but better—two large, loud, effective fundraisers are almost always better than four or five smaller fundraisers. And always make sure to emphasize the good work you do as a result of your fundraisers, as opposed to emphasizing only the dollars you need.

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