A major impediment to one big fundraiser is that we have to consider cash flow. Bills and expenses come due at the beginning of the year prior to the opportunity to hold a big event. We can’t have a big fundraiser in the summer in preparation of the new school year because families are busy with non-school spending.
The earliest opportunity we have for a major event is Fall Fest and this is why we are introducing the Silent Auction and Raffle at Fall Fest. We’ll have raffle baskets and donated items to bid on as an experiment to see if our school community is receptive to a stand-alone fundraising event like those held by Hillcrest’s and Catonsville Elementary’s PTAs. Fingers crossed that it is at least a moderate success.
The other issue for fundraising is the profit margin. We average between 10% to 30% profit on commercial fundraisers. The grocery fundraiser Market Day has a fairly low profit percentage of 10% to 15% but our reasons for keeping it is that it requires little volunteer time and labor, provides monthly revenue to offset cash-flow issues, and sells a necessity (groceries). Not everyone uses it, and that is fine. In the future, if we’re able to consolidate our fundraising efforts, then we can reassess whether Market Day is a good fit for our community.
We will continue Claire’s in the spring because it is popular and one of the most consistently successful commercial fundraisers we have; each year Claire’s earns an average of $1500 profit. Brax Spirit Cups is not being continued because it did well one year but didn’t repeat the same success the next. Many of us aren't personally enthusiastic about them, but these decisions are based on success not personal preferences.
If we’re looking at the best bang for our buck, we could move to a model in which parents make direct donations, which are 100% profit for the PTA. If we reach our goal of 200 members, then we could meet the bulk of our revenue needs if every member donated $11 to the PTA every month. That would be a grand total of $22,000 from parent donations, plus about $4000 from Holiday Shoppe and $8000 from direct support like rewards programs. Add those funds up and we will have reached our proposed revenue goal of $34,000. But is our community willing to make a monthly contribution?
We decided these questions are worth investigating and have introduced a couple of ways to encourage donations:
· Teachers Educational Materials Fund -- Parents are asked to donate $10 per grade so that teachers can be reimbursed for their extra-curricular educational spending.
· Pajama Day – An optional and small donation can be made during this monthly event to support enrichment activities like Literature Night and field trips.
· Not Interested Option – Whenever a commercial fundraiser is held, parents are invited to make a direct donation in lieu of a purchase.
Are these programs working? Here are the numbers to date and the target amounts:
Teachers Educational Materials Fund - $750 raised, $2250 target
Pajama Day - $362 raised in September, $100 monthly target
Not Interested Option - $15 raised in September, $100 monthly target
Basically, we're trying several strategies this school year with an ultimate goal of consolidating the fundraising efforts so that we aren't constantly asking our community for financial support. We're not yet sure what works best, so hang in there with us. We're working hard on our end to reach a balanced and effective fundraising model.