Putting the Fun in Fundraising

Successful parent groups know that boosting volunteer involvement is just as important as raising money. While product sales are among the most efficient and profitable of fundraising methods, a never-ending parade of money-maker projects throughout the school year could easily result in parent burnout.

Do your volunteers have fun while working? The fact is, while most parents are dedicated to supporting their child’s school and community, many more will participate if it’s fun. And more volunteers will result in more fundraising success for your organization over the years to come.

Despite juggling work, studies and motherhood, Amanda Stroup still finds time to volunteer at her child’s elementary school in Tampa, FL. That choice, she said, is aided by an active and creative PTA that frequently shows appreciation to volunteers.

“I’ve been fortunate because I have been involved with parent groups that like to give back to volunteers,” said Stroup. “There is an awards banquet every year. Family nights are big, where the school might team up with a local pizzeria and give out certificates. These types of treats and gifts and incentives really help to acknowledge and recognize volunteers for their efforts.”

So make parent involvement your priority, rather than just focusing on fundraising efforts. Run two or three major fundraisers a year, then concentrate on activities that get parents connected to the school and lift morale. This could range from an international potluck to a community scavenger hunt or an ice cream social to a welcome meeting with doughnuts and coffee for new parents. Ultimately, the kids, teachers and administrators, and the PTO will all benefit from these efforts.

Here are a few other ideas to show gratitude to your hard-working volunteers while also boosting the fun factor.

• Turn your spring car wash into an outdoor extravaganza with live entertainment featuring the school’s jazz ensemble and a cappella groups. Keep drivers entertained while their cars get a bath.

• Honor Memorial Day this year with an All-American Apple Pie Bake-Off. Proud cooks can enter their favorite pie along with the recipe for auction. Provide a healthy supply of American flags to sell to families that want to decorate their mailbox and front porch.

• Host a semi-formal live auction for parents featuring music and appetizers. Get local businesses to provide items or services such as dinner, theater tickets, spa package or a hotel stay for two.

• Ask a dance instructor to teach families how to waltz, two-step, salsa, line dance, or do the latest hip-hop moves. Follow up the lessons with a dance-off or your very own “Dancing with the Stars” contest.

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