Deb Murray, National Fundraising Rep
Serving the 48 contiguous United States

Questions? 1-860-384-3691

In addition to communicating with  your students and parents the purpose for why you are fundraising,  your student's will be motivated to sell more products when there is also a personal gain.  Whether they will get a prize, a chance to win, or an invitation to attend a fundraising celebrating event, you will see greater results when providing incentives rather than just sending the brochures home.  

Investing a little money, time, and effort for a great turn can make all the difference in some school fundraisers achieving just okay results to others resulting in tremendous sales for your school.  With planning and some creativity, there are numerous opportunities for providing the best overall incentives at no cost.   

When a student is one out of sometimes hundreds or even sometimes just one out of 10 students too often it is very challenging to get students excited, motivated, and committed to participate in your school fundraiser. The good news is that YOU can change all that! Success is not about passing out brochures and asking students to try to sell a few items. Generally, that will not result in successful school fundraising.  Set goals, communicate those goals to the students, be specific and explain how the funds will be used, what it's going to take to reach your goal, how the students will benefit by the school fundraiser, and set a goal for each student. 

Local Merchants can be a great resource.

Local merchants will often be happy to support your fundraiser by offering services such as a free limo ride, free ice cream, movie tickets, pizza etc in trade for your support by offering to distribute advertising materials, or to include them in your letters that go home with your fundraising brochures.  An example could be: "We'd like to thank ABC Ice Cream for supporting our fall elementary school fundraiser.  For every student who sells 5 items, ABC Ice Cream will award a coupon for a free ice cream cone.  Please visit ABC Ice Cream by visiting them at 123 Main Street."  Offer a second tier of reward to further increase your sales and participation.  Another example could be "Sell just 10 items and ABC Pizza will provide a free movie and pizza party for all students who sell just 10 items."  Other merchants who do not offer items for free may offer substantial discounts if you ask. Other options for your elementary school fundraiser include promoting a selection of local merchant gift certificates for your top sellers.  Often, merchants will either donate certificates or offer them to the school at a discount to promote their businesses.  

Don't forget to consider local services, entertainment, and local donations from businesses

Although it will take some planning, the initial time investment to plan an incentive program can result in raising the money you need with running just one school fundraiser rather than having to hold consecutive fundraisers all year long or falling short of the money needed to run your school programs.  Think outside of the box and explore all the possibilities for incentives that are available within your local community.  Talk to bowling alleys, laser tag facilities, miniature golf, movie theaters, ice skating rinks, toy stores, pottery studios, bakeries, candy stores, etc and ask for their support.  They may offer free items you can either plan for students to go to as a group, some businesses can offer free products, gift certificates, or discount coupons.  Local merchants such as restaurants, family entertainment, toy stores, etc are a few examples to ask for discount coupons.  The possibilities are numerous.  Elementary school students participate in a multitude of activities outside of school and to support your elementary school fundraisers many businesses will be happy to offer discount coupons for promotion and hopes of increasing their long-term memberships. Examples can include offering a choice of discounted lessons for a dance studio, a karate studio, YMCA membership. Parents will love those types of incentives!  As you may already know, the success of elementary school fundraisers also includes the support of your parents to participate in your school fundraiser as well! Parents are another resource to consider.  They may own a business themselves that would support your fundraiser, or they may be able to help in other ways.  Parents can donate a week at a time-share for either a top seller or enter a student's name into a drawing for every family who sells X number of items, or a chance drawing for everything X number of items sold etc.

With your fundraising committee, brainstorm how you can create the best possible incentive programs at the lowest cost possible to your organization.  Have multiple options available that you can utilize for various elementary school fundraisers and be sure to structure your incentive programs to benefit everyone: your local merchants and businesses who will benefit by free advertising and increased sales, your students, parents, teachers, etc.

We know that parents play a key role When a teacher understands and supports your elementary school fundraiser they can play a key role in motivating your students to increase participation and overall sales.  Getting teachers involved, asking for their participation, and including them in your incentive programs can have tremendous success.   Consider a few of these ideas: 

Funds raised by them directly to that class
Offer the teacher an incentive for hitting a classroom goal
Allow a class to retain a portion of funds raised above their goal
Give class bonus funds for hitting 100% participation goal
Let teachers sell fundraising items directly for their class’s benefit
Reward the top five classes with a teacher prize package
Provide a premium rewards catalog via a points system

Success in elementary school fundraising is accomplished by many students selling some andnot just by  afew sellerssales rewards
Design your school fundraising incentive program with the appropriate level of reward for all participants. A little reward can produce a lot of motivation.

Be sure to set the initial reward level low enough so that at least 50% of your sales force gets a direct reward.

Group awards will also stimulate additional sales, but not as much as individual rewards.

Progressive rewards - Offer ever-increasing levels of rewards. Allow roll-up combination of rewards into one big one.
For instance, a seller might select a basic prize for each level of success or one larger prize for his ultimate success.

Valuable rewards - Give awards for success that really have value. Nobody wants junk. Skip trinkets and work with your community to come up with better prizes that don’t subtract from your net.
Example: $5 coupon for a local fun center such as miniature golf, bowling, etc. Those merchants are well aware that more spending will result from that visit.

Big customer rewards - On school fundraiser sales from a catalog, consider motivating customers to make bigger buys by giving prizes for the biggest orders. Good coupons always work.
Example: free car wash with a $50 order. Obviously, work with a local car wash on this promotion.

Volunteer rewards - Don’t forget to reward your volunteers. You want them to come back, don’t you?
Select an appropriate reward for various levels of participation or at a minimum, do a wrap party or luncheon.

Appreciation - Show your appreciation to all facets of your organization and supporter base. Be sure you do fun things that aren’t fundraisers.
For example: offer discounts on tickets to athletic events, group outings, parties, barbecue night, etc.

These fun activities will help build the camaraderie useful for future fundraisers and for getting those volunteers to come back again.
Prize preview - Show off what sellers can win for different levels of achievement. Build a “want” or desire to have one or more of those prizes in each of your participants.

Recognition - Never underestimate the power of being praised before your peer group for doing a good job. Consider having a group awards ceremony.  Award plaques are a nice touch, particularly if you can get them at a discount. Remember the influence of your organization in other areas.

Personal goal - Motivate each salesperson with a self-selected personal goal stated in front of their peer group. Tie a reward to the achievement of that goal.

Tiered rewards - Give better prizes for better sales volume. Save money by dropping the lower tier reward once the next level is reached and offering a better prize for that achievement than if they got two lesser prizes.
Example: Level B seller gets nicer Level B prize, but forfeits the Level A prize upon reaching Level B.

Merchant prizes - Contact your local merchants for best prizes that mean the most to your sellers. Work deals for moviepasses, merchandise discounts, gift certificates, miniature golf, theater trip for top ten sellers, etc.

Classroom incentives - In school fundraisers, try to include something that directly benefits each classroom by providing school supplies, special classroom privileges, or extra playground time.

Party rewards - Ice cream, pizza, movies, a group trip? All of these and more can be great motivators and increase competition between sub-groups.

Quality rewards - Junk is always junk and will end up in the trash shortly. Only offer rewards that will truly motivate your sellers.

Structure rewards fairly - Design your program so that everyone is rewarded proportionately and is proud of participating toward winning one.

Seek prize donations - Otherwise, rewards will always come out of your net profit, one way or another. Look to your Merchant Plan for how to develop sources for extra prizes that really have value.

Fun Incentives - Offer a Cream Pie Attack party to all sellers reaching a certain level. Equip multiple tables with paper plates full of shaving cream to either attack each other or attack the coach, the youth minister, the troop leader, etc.

Use a wacky reward - Have key organizational figures promise to do something funny is the goal is met.
Examples: The coach has to shave his head, the principal has to dance with the school mascot at the pep rally, all thesecond grade teachers will dress like clowns on Friday, the youth minister will sing off key a chosen song.

Ask your sellers for suggestions!

Thanks for listening - Consider offering a coupon sheet to everyone contacted by your participants as a way of saying “thanks for listening.”

Million dollar bill - Say thanks to your buyers by giving them a “million dollar bill.” Feature your organization on the front, say with a mascot picture in the center. List sponsors on the back.

Offer a premium tie-in at local merchants. Have customers go inside to find out more (builds your group’s value with the merchant).

School Fundraising Incentives – Summary
In school fundraising, the proper use of an incentive program will definitely maximize your results. Plan well to motivate your participants, encourage repeat business, reward your volunteers, and build your support within the community.

If you want the best results, don’t settle for less than the best school fundraising incentives.

When a student is one out of sometimes hundreds or even sometimes just one out of 10 students too often it is very challenging to get students excited, motivated, and committed to participate in your school fundraiser. The good news is that YOU can change all that! Success is not about passing out brochures and asking students to try to sell a few items.  Generally, that will not result in successful school fundraising.  Set goals, communicate those goals to the students, be specific and explain how the funds will be used, what it's going to take to reach your goal, how the students will benefit by the school fundraiser, and set a goal for each student. 

Families with multiple children and/or children involved in many in-school and out-of-school activities can be overwhelmed with the number of fundraisers they are asked to support.  Unfortunately, parents and students will not participate in all fundraisers.  Some fundraisers are mandatory in order to participate in an activity, other fundraisers raise money for participation fees, uniforms, etc.  and as a result, those fundraisers can often take priority over an all-school fundraiser.  This is where great incentive programs come into play.  When a student comes home after a day at school and announces "hey Mom, I only have to sell 5 items and I get to go to a school party" parents will not want to be responsible for their child not being able to attend.

Now that’s motivation!

Elementary school fundraising incentive levels

Plan ahead!

Fundraising Incentive Ideas to Increase Participation and Sales

Don't forget to include your teachers in your elementary school fundraiser!

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The best elementary school fundraising Incentives can be found right within your school and/or your local community.

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Get your sellers imagining themselves winning awards and collecting rewards.

​School fundraising incentives increase participation and help your school fundraising results