At Equal Exchange, we’re proud to help schools, nonprofits and organizations of all sizes raise money with an easy catalog program. Participating groups often reach – and exceed – their fundraising goals while also supporting authentic fair trade!
“Silver Rail Elementary School is working to be a collaborative culture that encourages curiosity, critical thinking and problem solving as we engage in academics, wellness and service to the community.”
Silver Rail Elementary School opened in Bend, Oregon four years ago. As a new school in need of funding, the Silver Rail PTA is very active raising money for the school’s various programs including field trips, assemblies, reading programs, artists in residence, and a new LEGO® robotics program.
In the fall of 2018, Silver Rail PTA participated in the Equal Exchange fundraising program for the first time with a goal to raise $3,000. The campaign far exceeded that and they raised over $5,000! To learn just how, in their first year participating, their campaign did so well, we asked Silver Rail PTA President Brant Himes to share his insights to help empower others to succeed. Here’s what he said:
Why Equal Exchange?
Equal Exchange was a good fit for the culture of our school. Our school motto is ‘kindness matters. Equal Exchange gave us an opportunity to participate in a fundraiser where we could feel good about promoting and selling fair trade and organic products that aligned with our values of supporting community.
Planning & Education is Key
We started actively planning for this fundraiser during the Summer before the school year started. We ordered sample products to share at our September PTA meeting, and then had catalogs ready to go home in October. The samples and catalogs arrived very quickly, which made it easy to get organized.
We also appreciated the educational materials that were available, so our students could learn more about what makes fair trade different, and how Equal Exchange works with local farmers.
Good Promotion & Incentives Raise More Money
We sent home catalogs and a letter with every student, and promoted the fundraiser on our Facebook pages and in the school newsletter. We also had a kick-off assembly at the school where we challenged them with our school-wide goal: if we raised $5,000 profit, then the entire school would earn an ice cream party. To help foster a larger sense of community at the school, we opted for a school-wide prize instead of individual seller prizes.
EE provided great resources for organization. I would advise making sure to review everything that EE provides as you go through the fundraiser. We devised our own system for counting and sorting orders, but then realized the EE had a great order form spreadsheet and so we ended up using that in the end.
We had our fundraising chair take charge of the organization for the launch of the fundraiser, and then our board helped support the fundraiser throughout, especially with counting and entering the orders.
Distribution Made Simple
We rallied a group of volunteers to sort the orders upon arrival, and things went quicker than we anticipated. Again, EE had great strategies for organization (like setting out all the products around the room in order of the order form), and this helped keep the process clear.
We had great enthusiasm for this fundraiser and I anticipate we will want to do it again next year. People loved the products.
Planning Now for Future Fundraising Success
Next year, we will promote more with local businesses to consider purchasing the gift packs for their holiday employee gifts, as we had a couple of large orders for these that really pushed us over the top of our goal. We will also be able to process the orders more quickly just having done this before. From beginning to end, this was one of the more smooth and successful fundraisers that we have done! Thank you for your support of our school!
We did meet our goal, and so it was exciting to provide the ice cream for the school!
Well done, Silver Rail PTA! Your success is also a huge win for small farmers.
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