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Reprinted with permission from
Fall feels like a never-ending cycle of fundraising catalogs and calls for help with the various activities our kids are involved in -- schools, Scouts, and sports leagues all rely on this time of year for their major fundraisers. To complicate matters, parents are the ones called on to organize the events – school carnivals, book-fairs, wrapping paper and candy sales.
These fundraisers are important – our schools and groups are cash-strapped and need parent support to give our kids the best possible experiences. While most parents genuinely want to help, fundraisers can stress family budgets and quickly become overwhelming. Here are some simple strategies for avoiding family fundraising fatigue, supporting your groups, and having more fun with your family in the process!
Pick and Choose
Call a family meeting and make a list of all your upcoming fundraisers and volunteering demands. Set a budget for your family (or per child) then pick and choose the activities you want to support. For groups like schools that have several fundraisers coming up, think more in terms of your family’s overall giving goals than participating in every single activity. Let your kids know ahead of time that you’re sitting out the cookie dough sale this time, but will be participating in the school carnival and walk-a-thon.
Gifts beyond Money
If supporting your school or group with a check isn’t in the cards this year, consider sharing your time, talents and connections. Can you staff a booth at the school carnival, work an extra shift at the concession stand, design flyers for the talent show, or whip up treats for the bake sale? Involving your kids makes it even more fun and meaningful.
Carnival, sporting events and auction planning teams are always looking for creative donations. Do any of your friends or family have extra sports and event tickets that can be auctioned or raffled off? Do you have connections at local restaurants, spas or merchants who may be able to offer in-kind donations?
Go Big on FUNdraisers
Participate generously in your school and team community-building activities like carnivals, walk-a-thons, and BINGO and movie nights. The more the merrier! Invite your neighbors and friends to join you and consider buying extra tickets for families who may not be able to afford it. Not only will your whole family have a ton-of-fun, you’ll be helping raise money for a worthy cause!
Be Bold – Organize!
Offer to coordinate the event volunteers and use VolunteerSpot as your secret weapon to save time and sanity in the process. (http://www.VolunteerSpot.com) VolunteerSpot is a free and easy online coordination tool that makes it a snap to schedule, sign up and remind volunteers. It can be used for almost anything -- school carnivals, walk-a-thons, concession stands, book fairs, holiday boutiques – and no one has to know how easy it was for you to set it up!
Share and Share a Like
As fall passes, fundraising obligations may slow down, but they won’t go away; as long as budgets stay tight there will be more needs in the spring and next year as well. Talk to parents at other schools and other communities about their most successful fundraisers and share ideas with your groups.
Whether you choose to buy three tubes of wrapping paper, attend the school carnival with your family, or organize the book fair, have fun this year and know your efforts are appreciated and make a difference to your school and community!
About the Author
Karen Bantuveris is the founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot -- free online signup sheets save time and make it easy to organize parents to help for just about anything: classroom helpers, snack schedules, carnivals, library volunteers, parent-teacher conferences and more. Karen lives in Austin, TX with her husband and daughter.