Running a school-wide fundraiser can be logistically challenging, but if your community is motivated and organized, you’ll see big results! And with an Equal Exchange school fundraiser, your community will support small-scale farmers and artisans at the same time.
Last fall, Columbia Falls Middle School in Montana sold over $30,000 of fairly traded, organic products with an Equal Exchange catalog fundraiser to benefit their student council. Leslie DiMaio, a teacher and fundraising organizer at Columbia Falls (pictured, right, with top fundraising students), shared some of her strategies for success with us, which we’ll feature in this three part blog series.
The key to a successful school fundraiser is good planning and preparation. Let’s go through it step-by-step:
1. Fill out your catalog agreement form and get the ball rolling! We suggest planning a two week fundraiser to make the best use of time and energy. You can even request catalogs months in advance and we’ll send them a few weeks before your start date.
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2. Assemble a good team of helpers (both kids and adults) who will help you promote the fundraiser, collect and distribute orders, and keep track of money coming in.
3. Figure out what you’re raising money for and how much you need. New sports uniforms? A band trip? Art supplies? Make sure everyone knows your goal and what the kids are looking forward to. Email or print and send a letter like this one to announce your school fundraiser.
4. Encourage homerooms to do weekly check-ins to solve problems and answer questions as they come up. Make sure teachers know about the educational tools available to them and encourage them to talk about Fair Trade using a short presentation.
5. Hold a kick-off assembly on a Friday to build excitement and get kids informed about how the fundraiser works. Have the student council, drama club, choir or other groups present information about your Fair Trade fundraiser in a creative way. (We think that skits, songs and visuals work well!) Announce your overall goal and the prizes for top-selling homerooms and students. Ask fun school-related trivia questions and hand out Equal Exchange samples as prizes.
6. Make goal charts to post outside of each classroom so students can track their progress. (You can make goals relative to homeroom size and grade level.) Keep everyone motivated by filling in your progress bar together as you go along.
7. Make it fun for everyone! Distribute catalogs and samples of chocolate, coffee or tea in the teacher’s lounge. Invite the principal to host a pizza party for the top-selling class. Give small prizes to helpers and volunteers. And most importantly, remind everyone of the good they’ll be doing for communities around the world.
So your fundraiser is off to a great start. What’s next? We’ll share with you some best practices for collecting orders, staying organized and keeping everyone motivated.