4 suggestions of back-to-school fundraisers and events

It's officially summer in the U.S., and most students are out on break. Kids might not be worrying about homework and school projects, but now is the perfect time for nonprofits to study up on what makes an effective back-to-school fundraising event.

Raffles, auctions, fun runs and live shows don't happen overnight. So if you're planning an event that corresponds to the end of school break, you should start researching best practices now. Here are four pieces of advice for organizations that want to make the most of their back-to-school events and fundraisers:

1. Partner with education facilities and stores
Back-to-school events offer a chance to tie your mission in with particular season demands that weigh heavily on your audience's mind. The Fundraising Authority suggested an effective connection between the attention getter and the results of donation will allow donors to associate your cause with popular trends.

Not every nonprofit benefits students - at least not directly. If your organization improves the local community or world at large, it's not hard to present content through an educational lens or show how important your cause is to children in the area. You might not have to create an event yourself. It's possible you can grab a booth in a back-to-school fair or team with businesses that are preparing fall sales.

2. Provide opportunities for students
Every nonprofit can benefit from eager volunteers. The time off provided by summer vacation creates a group of individuals with plenty of free afternoons: kids. Parents might also appreciate an opportunity for their children to put their free time to good use while being outdoors and interacting with their peers.

Of course, kids don't want to spend their whole summer working. It may be best to create a singular project for young volunteers as part of a nonprofit event. You can have senior members help kids put together a show or game for event participants. Even when your cause isn't primarily focused on children, it's good to show there is a place for younger audiences in your organization.

Additionally, you need to keep timing in mind when planning events during the school year. Teachers and students alike might not be thrilled to participate in an event during finals week or during a very hectic time in a sports season.

Instead, plan events that work with most schedules. The beginning of the school year and right before the end are great times. Everyone is excited to either get back into the school year (or leave for summer break!), and that excitement can translate into contributions to your organization.

3. Create attainable goals
When students begin a project, the teacher tells them exactly how many points it is worth and what will cost them the perfect grade.

You need to be just as clear with your event audience. For example, if your organization raises money for schools, you can't be vague with goals. You have to tell donors exactly what their money will do.

Take the story of Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit campaign designed to provide school supplies for underprivileged kids. While this particular campaign was carried out online, it offered pictures to show participants exactly how many children needed help and who would benefit from contributions. Your event should have a specific dollar limit, a purchase or project proposal that audiences can get behind.

4. Combine offline and online
Whether you launch a social media campaign or announce a live event, real world activities and online tasks should lead to the same goals. You can use Twitter hashtags to promote your back-to-school auctions or shows, and you can encourage live audiences to share their experiences with their contacts through photo sites and other social platforms.

This grows increasingly important as the gap between online and offline continues to shrink. A recent survey found the three following data points:

  1. The number of back-to-school-shoppers using mobile devices increased in 2015.
  2. Almost one-third of parents use smartphones in some way during fall shopping.
  3. 11% of parents benefited from in-store beacons that worked with their mobile devices.

Audiences become more comfortable with digital payments and expect to use them in many locations. Live fundraising events should be ready to accept credit card through mobile payment processing technology. All software used to gather donations should be integrated to show the effects of both offline and online actions. 

Back to News