Putting a Price Tag on Fundraising

Imagine if you will, an elementary school engaging its families in an amazing fundraiser that brings families together, promotes health and wellness and as most fundraisers do…raises a ton of money to support initiatives, programs and brings unique experiences and opportunities to the students, teachers and families within the school. It sounds a lot like my campus, minus the “raises a ton of money” part.

The struggle is real. Fundraising at a Title I campus can be difficult. While we do our best to find ideas that will appeal to our community, at the end of the day, there are not a lot of extra dollars to be spent or donated to the school or PTA, because frankly, the money our families have is being spent on what it should be spent on. It is being spent on the necessities. Families are spending their money in an effort to provide for their families. Who am I to ask them to spend it differently?

Often, I gather with other principals from Title I schools in our district and we discuss innovative ways we are making things work within our building. A couple of weeks ago, the idea of fundraising came up and one particular campus shared the success they had been having with a fundraiser called “Penny Wars”. I was not familiar with this particular idea, but if it was working for them, I was all ears. Want to know how “Penny Wars” works? Click here for more information: “Penny Wars”

After listening to the format of “Penny Wars” I was sold. I immediately returned to campus and shared this idea with our PTA President and before the day was out, we had our next fundraiser.

Yesterday was our first day of “Penny Wars” at Sigler Elementary. I am not sure how you measure the success of a fundraiser, but for me, as the principal at Sigler Elementary, the following three points are important to me.

1. It’s a family affair – I want our fundraisers to be something the whole family can get in on. Now, I do not mean the whole family goes walking throughout the neighborhood, ringing door bells and selling items. I mean the fundraiser is something the whole family can participate in. “Penny Wars” checks that box. In just two days, I have seen moms, dads and siblings coming together to collect their pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

2. Student excitement – Each morning as students enter the school building, they flock to our “Penny Wars” table to see which grade level has made the biggest contribution or to make a contribution themselves. Students need to have school spirit and when they are in the building having to be reminded to go to class numerous times because they just cannot pull themselves away from “Penny Wars” I believe we have captured their excitement. (Imagine if schools could capture the same level of excitement for learning in the classrooms…another post perhaps.)

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Maybe their excitement is due to this amazing trophy that travels from grade level to grade level recognizing the “Penny Wars” champion of the day.

3. Purpose – Often times schools and PTAs host fundraisers because it is what they have always done and the money goes into the same “fund” it always has and no one really knows what the money will be spent on. While we say the money goes towards supporting the Sigler PTA and brings programs and opportunities to students and families…we are being truthful, but it is vague at best. This time around we have a goal. Our Sigler PTA and Sigler Elementary would love to have a digital marquee. While many schools have made the transition from the older marquees to digital marquees, the marquee at Sigler still requires an individual to manually update messages one letter tile at a time, limiting the message to English on one side and Spanish on the other. It is our hope that our clear vision will encourage families to participate not only in this fundraiser, but in future fundraisers as well.

You are probably wondering, he did not list “Raise Money” as one of his points. Well, you are right. Of course, I want our fundraisers to earn money. We are not going to raise $30,000 doing a fundraiser at Sigler Elementary. We just are not. While, I do want our fundraisers to earn money, I want the points listed above just as much.

Two days into “Penny Wars” I am pleasantly surprised by the family involvement and student excitement I am witnessing. Yes, I’m excited about the money raised thus far, but we are just getting started. Let’s see how “Penny Wars” progresses over the next several days. If the momentum continues, we will be that much closer to our goal, our purpose which is bring a new marquee to Sigler Elementary. Yes, we will purchase it with money, but it will have been earned through the involvement of our families and the excitement of our students…no way you can put a price tag on that!

What was your moment today?