Mak­ing The Most Of School Fundrais­ing


Bake sales, car washes and char­ity auc­tions. Schools across the coun­try rely on fundrais­ing ideas like these to pay for a va­ri­ety of needs, in­clud­ing spe­cial pur­chases and projects.

Whether you are hop­ing to bring in a few hun­dred dol­lars or many thou­sands, the Cal­i­for­nia Society of CPAs ( of­fers the fol­low­ing smart steps you can take to make your ef­forts more ef­fec­tive.

Know Your Goals

You’re likely to be more pro­duc­tive if you have de­tailed goals that can be mea­sured, both in terms of dol­lars raised and what will be ac­com­plished. For ex­am­ple, be­fore you set out to en­hance the school’s technology, first fig­ure out ex­actly what that means to you. Do you want to re­place some ag­ing equip­ment, com­pletely ren­o­vate the com­puter lab or give each child a tablet?

Be very spe­cific about what you seek to ac­com­plish, and then do some home­work to find out how much the project will cost. Know­ing the size of your bud­get will help you de­cide what kind of fundrais­ing ef­fort will best meet your needs.

Try Many schools sell gift wrap, candy or a va­ri­ety of other snacks and items to gen­er­ate funds, but re­mem­ber that the school only gets part of the money gen­er­ated, with

Some­thing New

the rest go­ing to pay for the com­pany’s prod­ucts.

Sim­i­larly, in a raf­fle or auc­tion, some do­na­tions may sell for less than their ac­tual value. With this in mind, con­sider whether it would make more sense to have a “No Frills” or “No Pur­chase Nec­es­sary” fundraiser, in which par­ents or other com­mu­nity mem­bers sim­ply write a check, know­ing that 100 per­cent of their con­tri­bu­tion will go to the school. Ei­ther ap­proach – or a com­bi­na­tion of both – may work well, but it’s good to con­sider a va­ri­ety of pos­si­bil­i­ties as part of your plan­ning.

Tap into Ex­per­tise

If you do choose a fundraiser that in­volves sell­ing a prod­uct, don’t miss out on the chance to get ad­vice from a com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tive, who has likely worked with many other schools. In­vite him or her to share ideas on how or­ga­ni­za­tions like yours have suc­ceeded in sell­ing their prod­ucts in the past.

Dis­cuss your goals and the makeup of your school com­mu­nity, and ask for tips on how to make the most of your ef­forts.

Make It an Ex­pe­ri­ence

If you’re gath­er­ing items of value for a char­ity auc­tion, don’t over­look the value of an ex­pe­ri­ence. For ex­am­ple, con­sider auc­tion­ing off the chance to have lunch with a teacher or the prin­ci­pal, be the prin­ci­pal for the day or work along­side the li­brar­ian for an af­ter­noon.

Par­ents and other mem­bers of the school com­mu­nity may also be will­ing to con­trib­ute an ex­pe­ri­ence that will go to the high­est bid­der. You may find these home­grown prizes at­tract a lot of bid­ders.

Get Your Grants in Or­der

If your school has re­ceived a grant for a spe­cial project, con­grat­u­la­tions! The money will help you reach im­por­tant goals, but you should also be aware of the need to com­ply with any grant re­quire­ments or, pos­si­bly, to pro­vide re­lated fi­nan­cial records or state­ments.

Be­fore you ap­ply, be sure you un­der­stand what will be re­quired of you and con­firm that your or­ga­ni­za­tion has the ex­per­tise to com­ply prop­erly. Your lo­cal CPA can of­fer ad­vice if you have ques­tions about man­ag­ing grants.

Your CPA Can Help

CPAs reg­u­larly of­fer valu­able ad­vice to help not-for-prof­its and other lo­cal com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions ad­dress fi­nan­cial con­cerns. Turn to your lo­cal CPA for an­swers to any fi­nan­cial ques­tions you may have. To find one near you, visit pub­lic-re­sources/find-a-cpa.

The Money Man­age­ment col­umns are a joint ef­fort of the AICPA and the Cal­i­for­nia Society of CPAs as part of the pro­fes­sion’s na­tion­wide 360 De­grees of Fi­nan­cial Lit­er­acy pro­gram.

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