It’s almost time to put away those scissors. Box Tops for Education released a new mobile app (aptly named Box Tops for Education) for both iPhones (iOS) and Androids on June 19, 2019, and ushered in a whole new way of collecting box tops and raising money for schools.
Don’t panic: Traditional box tops will be honored until they expire, which in some cases could be a few years from now. But the transition is under way. The future of BTFE is digital-only and is based on a free receipt-scanning app that folks use to update their box tops activity and automatically update a school’s account.
Five Quick Takeaways
You can download the (free) new Box Tops for Education app for both iPhones and Androids as of June 19, 2019.
Individuals scan receipts within 14 days of purchase and automatically update their school’s account.
Traditional box tops will be honored until they expire.
Between now and the end of 2019, people can submit traditional box tops and scan a receipt to get double points on many products.
Promotional materials and new collection sheets will be available this summer for PTOs and box top coordinators to get their school communities familiar with the new system.
We talked to Lilly Moeding from BTFE marketing to get more information on this new program. Here’s what you need to know.
How It Works
From here on out, individuals (parents, grandparents, and so on) can download the new BTFE app on their phones. Only a receipt—not the label on the product—gets scanned. The app records any products from participating brands on the receipt. Once scanned, the receipt’s Box Tops amounts will be assigned to the school account a participant has selected on the app.
Individuals can keep track of their own activity and can see the school’s total amount earned. The school view will show totals earned by store only.
It’s important to note that receipts need to be scanned within two weeks of purchase. This is a big difference from the traditional program in which consumers had months, even years, to redeem a box top. BTFE says the time frame is in line with other receipt-scanning programs.
Scanning on the New System Starts Right Away
Currently, there’s a smattering of products in stores with the new box top label. If you see a label that says “No more clipping. Scan your receipt,” you’ve found one! Expect to see more and more products with the new label over the summer. There should be nearly 200 products from a variety of brands by back-to-school time.
You Can Still Clip, for Now
You can submit traditional Box Tops until they expire. In fact, BTFE will do a transition period for the remainder of 2019 in which you can clip and submit a traditional Box Top and scan your receipt, earning double the amount for many products. Some brands will not participate in this, and the app will flag it as a scan-only item.
Online Shopping Isn't Included…Yet
BTFE is working on ways to accommodate people who buy participating products online. Planned updates to the app should support a majority of e-commerce services, including many grocery delivery services, says Moeding.
Over the last few years, several brands stopped participating in BTFE. According to Moeding, part of the reason for those brands leaving the program was related to packaging updates for Box Tops for Education expiration dates and lack of insight into how much brands would owe schools each year. Some new brands may be signing up soon in part because of the new digital system, she says, and some brands that were considering leaving the program this year have decided to stay because of the app.
Help for PTOs and Coordinators
BTFE will provide a number of resources, including a letter to parents, a flyer, and social media posts to help schools and volunteers get the word out to their communities about the new system. A PowerPoint presentation that PTOs could show at parent events will be available by back-to-school time. The resources are available on the BTFE site.
Incentive Programs Will Change
With the new app, there is no simple way to track collections on a classroom level, a really popular way to run incentive programs and reward kids and families. BTFE is working on this and should have a new classroom-level function in an updated version of the app. In the meantime, BTFE will release a collection sheet that will have a section for traditional box tops labels and a section where parents can record totals from receipts. It also recommends that coordinators request parents submit screenshots of receipts via email.
Box Tops Coordinators' Jobs Will Change
Something bittersweet: The days of box tops clipping parties (wine, anyone?) may soon be over. While traditional box tops will be honored, there will be fewer and fewer in stores over the next year. But coordinators will have in some ways an even more important job of communicating and educating people about the new system and serving as their schools' go-to person for tech help and resources.
Try these ideas to collect more physical box tops while you can, and find out what other passive fundraisers your parent group may be able to participate in.