If you hear the word, “fundraising,” (or even contemplate adding preschool fundraising to your program) and cringe a little inside, you’re not the only one. That’s because you’ve either ran a fundraiser and only received a small portion of the proceeds, or you’ve been pitched by all the neighborhood kids to buy popcorn or cookie dough or jewelry, or you’ve had to take your kiddos out to all your friends and family to help them with their school fundraiser.
Either way, fundraisers usually have a negative view because they produce low proceeds for the organizer, and they offer random items for purchase.
But in our preschool world, fundraising is done in an entirely different way! Instead of fundraising for somebody else’s company, you can fundraise for your own business, keep 100% of the money for your preschool, and offer your preschool parents cool things they actually WANT!
The basic gist is this: you find something of large value that you want for your preschool (be it a library, a playground, a computer station, P.E. equipment, new furniture, you name it!) Then, you ask your preschool parents -and- local businesses to donate their products and/or services to your fundraiser RAFFLE.
You bundle up the products and/or services into fun gift bags/packages that your parents (and others) will actually want to win. You sell tons of $1.00 tickets to the raffle. You raffle off the prizes to happy parents.
Finally, you use the raffle ticket money to purchase the items you were fundraising for in the first place. Win win all around! Local businesses get a tax write-off and free publicity by donating a product or service they are willing to give away. (Don’t do 50% off coupons… these are actual products or services that, once the person wins in the raffle, they get free and clear.)
Your preschool parents feel good about asking other people to buy raffle tickets because it helps their kid’s preschool and there’s cool prizes to win. And you get to keep 100% of the proceeds for the large item you wanted in the first place!
We did this during the first two years after we got our large schoolhouse and we were able to raise about $6,000 each year with just 100 students each year. The first year, we got a huge playground set, curbing, and wood chips… the second year, we got two new classroom lofts, P.E. equipment, and a new P.E. curriculum. The whole school rallied together because it was such a fun, new way to do fundraisers!
So how do you organize such a fundraiser?
First, decide what large item you want to get. Don’t just say “books” or “curriculum…” be specific about what you’re after so your parents and local businesses can rally to your cause (and they can know their money was well spent when they see you purchased the “thing…”)
Post regularly on Facebook about your fundraiser and get them excited. Usually, I like to forewarn them in August at our Meet ‘n Greet that a fundraiser is coming up in November so they are looking forward to it. Then, keep your entire fundraising period to just 1.5 months.
TIP: Hold your fundraiser in November so people can win these prizes and either give them to other people for Christmas gifts or keep them for themselves as early Christmas gifts. People already have their minds on spending money; you’re just giving them a better outlet to spend their money on.
During the donation stage (where your preschool parents and local businesses are donating products and services to your raffle), you’ll want to reach out to the companies below. I even have a script you can say on the phone, and then for anyone you can’t reach on the phone, you can print off a donation request letter that you can take right into the place with you as you ask. Always make yourself appear professional with a distinct purpose in mind… you’re not there to get some handout.
- Restaurants: They’ll usually give you a gift card on the spot (think Red Robin, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, etc.)
- Mom and Pop shops or service providers: They’ll usually give you products and/or a gift card for service on the spot (think dog groomers, hair salons, carpet cleaning, window cleaning, house cleaning, mechanic tune-up, oil change, room painting, lawn mowing, manicures, etc.)
- Independently owned fast food chains: They’ll usually give you a gift card on the spot (think Dairy Queen, Arctic Circle, Panda Express, etc.)
- Large chains: You’ll need to request a donation via letter and sometimes they won’t give you one if you’re “for profit” (think McDonald’s, Cabela’s, etc.)
- Hotels: You’ll need to request a donation via letter, but they’ll usually give you a 50% off voucher for a 2- or 3-night stay (think smaller, unique hotels, not larger “Best Western” chains)
TIP: We did this for each fundraiser and it was a huge hit. Pay the 50% out of YOUR pocket for the 2- or 3-night stay. It’ll probably be $200-$300. Then, package it up with some other cool relaxing type of products and/or services like lotions, massages, candles, etc. and call it a “Anniversary Getaway Retreat” or something like that valued at $500 (or whatever the total value is) and that will REALLY get those tickets selling fast! People LOVED that they could pay $20 to get 20 chances to win the $500 getaway! Because we always made around $6,000 with all the raffle tickets, and the only cost out of my pocket was $300 for the getaway and $200 for the printing of the raffle booklet, we were able to see a huge influx of ticket sales just because we offered the getaway package.
- Preschool Parents: Many of your preschool parents can either offer a product/service from their own business, or they can ask their boss to donate a product/service.
- Independent Consultants: Some preschool moms (or anyone else locally) work for MLMs like Scentsy, LulaRoe, and other companies and would absolutely have products they could donate in exchange for the free publicity.
As you receive donations, be sure to fill out the Excels spreadsheet “Donation List” with information on each donation.
When it’s time to turn off donation acceptance, look at everything you’ve gotten donated, and start bundling up items into cool gift packages valued at varying amounts.
(You might even grab a few things from the dollar store to create actual gift packages that look nice when they pick them up.)
Put like-minded things together, like if you had a bunch of cleaning services, put those together and call it: “Maid on Call” or “Clean Home for the Holidays.” Always have a cute title to go along with your gift packages. They don’t all have to be crazy big… you’ll have plenty of small fun packages, too.
Some products or services that were donated might not fit into cool gift package ideas, and you also might just have a ton of gift certificates for fast food or restaurants (those are the most common). I always put those types of donations (that anyone would love to receive) into a Second Chance Drawing (explained later on).
You know how raffles work. You could buy one ticket, and if there were 999 other tickets sold, you’d have 1/1,000 chance at winning something. But if you bought 20 or even 50 of those tickets, your chances at winning would go up dramatically.
So it’s not gambling, because your preschool parents know their money is directly going to buy the “thing” that will help their child’s preschool, but it’s super fun because they have a chance to win a huge getaway or even some other small packages.
TIP: When you get your preschool parents all hyped up, there’s another contest taking place at the same time the raffle is going on… and that contest is: Whichever child sells the most raffle tickets gets a free month of tuition!” So all of a sudden, that prize is worth $100+, and that’s instant money back in that preschool parent’s pocket.
(Yes, you do have to give them a free credit, so you’re not really paying them the money, but you do have to factor you’re going to take out that $100 or whatever the amount of tuition is for the child that wins.)
Because the preschool parents now think they have a way easier way of winning $100+ free tuition PLUS possibly a getaway and any other cool prize, now they’re incentivized to not only BUY tickets but also to SELL them.
TIP: Don’t let anyone win any random prize. Let them CHOOSE where they want their tickets to go. For instance, if I won a dog gift package, but I didn’t have a dog, I wouldn’t be that happy about my win.
But if I wanted to win the getaway, and I could put ALL of my tickets into JUST the getaway drawing, well THEN I would be very happy knowing that either I would win the getaway or I wouldn’t, but at least I could increase my chances of winning the actual thing(s) I wanted to win.
Once your gift packages are set, create a raffle booklet for your preschool parents to peruse and for them to take around to their neighbors, friends, and family to sell raffle tickets from.
It doesn’t have to have pictures… it just has to have the donor’s information (for free publicity) and explain what each gift package has and make it enticing enough to want to buy tickets for. Also create a matching raffle order form (seen at the back of the Raffle Booklet example) for everyone to fill out to say which gift package they want their tickets to go to.
Then, print out enough raffle booklets so each child has one, tons of order forms for each child, 9”x12” manila envelopes to collect the money and order forms, and send the families off to sell tickets. Of course, there’s a deadline on how long they can sell tickets, but keep the families psyched by posting regularly on Facebook. You can also set up a PayPal order form and offer your fundraiser on your community Facebook groups as well.
Be sure to send thank you cards to every business and person who donated something. Once all the payment packets and order forms have come back, you’ll want to spend a chunk of time to process everything. What I did was create an Excel spreadsheet of all the orders and divided them based on how many tickets they ordered per basket.
On the top row, you can add in all your gift packages. Under each gift package, you simply write in the name and phone number of the person who assigned a ticket for that package. If Bob Jones assigned 7 raffle tickets for Lakeview Getaway, 2 raffle tickets for Pampered Bliss, and 2 raffle tickets for Clean Home for the Holidays, I would simply copy his name and phone number into that many spots under each gift package.
Last, I would copy his name and phone number into 11 spots under the “Second Chance Drawing” column, meaning that he had received a total of 11 raffle tickets (this includes purchased and free tickets).
Then I would move on to the next order form, and so on, and so on, until I had every raffle ticket recorded in BOTH the gift package columns AND the Second Chance Drawing column.
Then, on the night and time of the raffle drawing, I would do a Facebook Live where I:
- Said I was going to pick the winner for “x” gift package
- Found out how many entries for that gift package there were (simply look to the left of the spreadsheet and see how many entries that package had)
- Entered that number onto the free random number generator online
- Clicked “generate number” to get a completely random number
- Looked on the spreadsheet to find whose name was in that number’s row for that gift package – That person was the winner!
- I highlighted that person’s name, wrote it on a piece of paper next to me, and repeated for all the gift packages (Yes, one person can win more than one gift package)
TIP: When all the gift packages have been “won,” it’s time to move on to the Second Chance Drawing. What I love about this is, even though the prizes are not as expensive, it still allows those who bought a lot of tickets (but didn’t win) the chance to win something.
This is the process I use to do the Second Chance drawing right after the gift package drawing and still while I am on Facebook Live and I:
- Announced that I was going to be drawing for Second Chance Prizes, and only non-winners were eligible, so if I called out someone’s name who had already won a gift package (or someone who had won a Second Chance prize) then I would draw again
- Found out how many total tickets were assigned (this includes purchased and free tickets) for the entire fundraiser. This number might be in the hundreds or thousands depending on the size of your school. (This number will be the same number you use for all Second Chance drawings.)
- Entered that number onto the free random number generator online
- Clicked “generate number” to get a completely random number
- Looked on the spreadsheet to find whose name was in that number’s row for that Second Chance
- Drawing column – That person was the winner as long as he/she hadn’t won anything previously. (If that person had won previously, I would draw again.)
- I highlighted that person’s name, wrote it on a piece of paper next to me (with the corresponding second chance item he/she had won), and repeated for all the second chance items
Once I was finished with the drawing and the Facebook Live, I contacted all the winners of the raffle and coordinated the pickup of all the items, preferably on one night when they could all come within a 2-hour pickup window.
It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s a great way to rally together as a preschool and get some amazing large items completely paid for by others – it’s the best preschool fundraising you can do!