School Pledge Fundraising 101

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Most organizations and schools use incentives to encourage participation in their Get Active Fundraiser. But what is the best way to incorporate these incentives? We have a few smart strategies to consider while planning your event.

Incent or not Incent?
Most schools struggle with the decision to offer incentives to encourage participation in its fundraiser. Concerns about taking away from instructional time, sending the wrong message about consumerism, putting pressure on children, rewarding with a toy or gadget for doing a good job are the big reasons why schools do not offer incentives.
However, so many schools have had disappointing fundraising results when they did not offer incentives. Prizes are a great motivator for kids and even teachers too.

More Prizes vs. Big Prizes
Fundraising experts say it is better to focus on incenting everyone to participate rather than one big school prize. So, incenting all students to send out ten pledge requests yields better numbers than focusing on one school money goal. For example, if you have 100 students and each sends out ten pledge requests with an average $10 donation, this yields $10,000.

Kickoff Assembly
It is crucial to get the kids excited about the event and the prizes. Don’t just send a list of prizes home. Hold a kickoff assembly and keep up awareness about prizes through morning announcements, social media, email blasts, and phone-tree messages. You could even make posters with pictures of the prizes to display where the students board busses and at the car loop area.

Prize Levels
The way you structure prizes levels is more important than what prizes you offer. Many schools establish a theme and build prizes around that theme.
A good rule of thumb is the prize should not exceed 10% of the amount raised, unless the prize is donated by a business sponsor – then the sky is the limit!  If you offer good prizes, you will have students who put in extra effort to reach the next level. To keep costs in control, don’t order the prizes until after the event and then distribute 2-3 weeks after.

An example of one fundraising incentive level plan that typically raises $50-60,000

• 10 pledge request sent = homework pass, free dress day, or invitation to attend a popsicle party

• $35 raised = GAF sunglasses

• $50 raised = water bottle, hat or bandana that matches the theme

• $100 raised = T-shirt (kids wear these to school and are proud of them), credit towards the school store, or other larger $5 prize

• $200 raised = $10 Target gift card

• $300 raised = $20 Target gift card

• School Wide Prize ($50,000) = school-wide pizza party and Principal dresses in costume or kisses a pig

Here is another example of incentives to offer:

• 10 pledge requests sent = a pair of GAF sunglasses (available to the first 30 participants)

• $75 raised = “Race for Free” – Free Entry and Race kit and sunglasses

• $100 raised = Free Race Entry and Race kit and a raffle ticket for 2 tickets to an indoor trampoline park, the zoo, or scooter

• 3rd highest in total pledges = all other incentives and a $15 gift card

• 2nd highest in total pledges = all other incentives and $25 gift card

• 1st highest in total pledges = all other incentives and $50 gift card


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