Charter School Fundraising: Boost End-of-Year Giving
Charter school fundraising is a necessary part of being able to provide the programs and services your students deserve. We know that it’s no easy task, asking for money. But this is the season to do so, if you haven’t already set up an annual giving program. And, no, it’s not too late to get the ball rolling! If you do already have a program in place, this post may give you a few new ideas to help push your school’s giving program to the next level.
Giving Tuesday is right around the corner (December 3rd) so now’s the perfect time to maximize your opportunities for charitable donations to your charter school. Giving Tuesday truly kicks off the “Season of Giving” when folks are trying to make those last-minute decisions about which deserving non-profits they should receive their hard-earned dollars. We wanted to put this blog post together to help you optimize your fundraising opportunities before the year’s end.
Remember, in your communications and outreach, make sure to let your community know that your charter school is a 501(c)3 organization and that all donations are tax-deductible. Also, don’t forget to include your Tax ID number. And, at the end of this post, we’ve included some tips on setting up your organization on Amazon Smile, how to then select your organization to receive your Amazon Smile dollars, as well as some additional resources to get your giving programs either set up or just tuned up!
We found this fantastic post with several great fundraising tips from EdTec originally published here on October 24, 2017 and written by Melanie Horton. It may be a few years old, but still has some great tips!
Five Minutes of Practical Fundraising Advice for Charter Schools
All charter schools can use a few extra dollars to fund projects and programs that support the success of their students. Wherever your school is with its fundraising strategy, there’s always room for evaluation and improvement. We’ve put together a list of five simple actions schools can take to increase donations, as well as a few quick tips to help strengthen the connection to potential and existing donors.
Five Fundraising Actions Your School Can Take Today
1. Participate in #GivingTuesday: Celebrated the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday was started in 2012 as a way to harness “the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities” (www.givingtuesday.org). The movement provides an opportunity for charitable organizations to rally their communities and encourage donations to their causes, and has grown rapidly over the last few years. For #GivingTuesday 2015, 700,000 donors contributed nearly $117 million, and the hashtag earned 1.3 million mentions on social media and 114 billion Twitter impressions! You can find several resources to help plan for #GivingTuesday 2017 at givingtuesday.org, including a social media toolkit and ideas and case studies specific to schools. Don’t worry about implementing all the recommendations the first time you participate; you can start by incorporating #GivingTuesday into your existing social media plan, and set aside time well in advance next year to develop a more comprehensive strategy.
2. Register on Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. There is a simple registration process, so you will need access to the school’s EIN and bank account information. Once you are registered, remind parents, teachers, staff, and other stakeholders to bookmark amazon.com, where they can select your school as their charitable organization of choice; they only need to do this once, and all future eligible purchases made at smile.amazon.com will result in a 0.5% donation to your school. Once an individual makes a purchase that results in a donation, they’ll be able to view and keep track of the total amount donated to the school across time; this is a fun, useful feature that allows donors to see the collective impact of several small donations made by members of the school community across time.
3. Remember to ask donors if their employer participates in a matching gift program. Most people are not aware their employer offers a matching gift program, leaving potential fundraising dollars on the table! Make sure to include this reminder on your website’s donation page, as well as in any direct mail fundraising campaigns. While there is technology available for purchase that can be linked to your school’s website, which allows donors to check their employer’s matching gift policy and guidelines on the spot, this is easy to do without the help of extra tools. Just include a simple, noticeable message that prompts donors to ask if their employer, or their spouse’s employer, participates in a matching gift program. You can also prompt donors to check a box if they already know they have access to a matching gift program, and remind them to proceed with the necessary paperwork. Asking donors to check a box makes it easy for you to follow-up about matching gifts.
What happens next? The donor will then need to request the proper paperwork from their employer (as well as verify that the school is eligible for a matching donation) and submit a matching gift form to your school. Upon receipt of the form, a school employee will need to confirm donation from the individual, and submit the form to the employer.
4. Register with local supermarkets and other retail stores. Several retailers offer programs that allow customers to donate a percentage of their purchase to the charitable organization of their choice. For example, Ralphs’ has a Community Contribution Program that allows rewards card users to select a community organization to donate to. The process varies with each retailer, so it’s best to pay a visit to your local retailers and ask if they have similar programs.
5. Don’t leave grant money on the table! There are hundreds of grant opportunities available to charter schools, some of which require no more than a simple application form. It can be difficult to make time to focus on grant writing when there are so many other things to get done, which is why EdTec offers flexible grant research and writing services for busy school leaders. Set up a call with us for more information and sign up to receive our monthly grants email.
Two Ways to Strengthen Your School’s Fundraising Program
1. Make your case. The stronger your story, the more compelled your stakeholders will feel to give. Is your per-student funding rate less than the state average? Less than the neighborhood school district? Share these facts with your audience, and include numbers when you have them. You’ll also want to include a list of things you aim to accomplish through fundraising, be it reducing class size, purchasing new musical instruments, enhancing facilities, or starting an after-school STEM program, as well as a tally of funds raised to date (if any) and what you’ve been able to accomplish as a result. Give your potential donors proof that their money will be put to good use!
2. Be thankful! Always send timely thank you notes, preferably within two weeks of receiving a donation (and sooner if you can). While it is a nice gesture to send hand-written notes, this is not always feasible, especially for larger schools. Have a template thank you note ready to go, personalize the letter with the donor’s name and donation details, and ask the school’s principal or executive director to sign it. You might also consider putting together an annual publication that recognizes donors for their contributions, and includes information about the projects and improvements that were made possible by their generosity. Donors will enjoy being recognized, and be more compelled to give in the future.
Here are some additional resources we thought might be helpful to boost your end-of-year giving programs:
AMAZON SMILE INFORMATION
To register your organization with Amazon Smile: https://org.amazon.com/ref=smi_se_saas_org_org
To change your charitable organization:
- Sign in to smile.amazon.com on your desktop or mobile phone browser.
- From your desktop, go to Your Account from the navigation at the top of any page, and then select the option to Change your Charity. Or, from your mobile browser, select Change your Charity from the options at the bottom of the page.
- Select a new charitable organization to support.
For more information about Amazon Smile: http://smile.amazon.com/about
ADDITIONAL ARTICLES TO READ
Getting started with planned giving:
Tips for year-end fundraising success:
Fun fundraising ideas for year-end giving:
Easy fundraising tips for end-of-year giving:
Since the company’s inception in 2007, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We help schools access, leverage, and sustain the resources charter schools need to thrive, allowing them to focus on what matters most – educating students. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $2 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country. For more information on how we can support your charter school, contact us. We’d love to work with you!