Beyond the Bake Sale

from Technology & Learning

Fundraising can be a major time commitment, so it helps to plan ahead.

It's a rare school that doesn't depend on at least one or two annual fundraisers to support activities beyond the basics. Factor in all the disparate annual sales, including those for clubs and the always-popular one held by the PTSA, and it's easy to end up juggling way too many fundraising activities in no time.

There are a number of ways your fundraisers can be successful. First off, it's vital that you identify activities that won't overwhelm or alienate your community base, take away from instructional time, or waste the time of the people running the fundraiser. Fundraisers tend to become entrenched—a major pitfall to avoid. Once that happens, the activity is repeated whether or not it pays off because "we can always have a bake sale or carnival."

As you start planning for next year, take the time to evaluate every fundraiser that is being considered for the new school calendar. Meet with staff and parents to review and answer the following questions.


Why is this fundraiser being held? What is the target amount to earn, and how will the money be used?


How many total fundraisers are scheduled for this school and at feeder schools? Are there calendar conflicts? How long is this fundraiser? How much adult time is required? What is the impact on students' families and on school staff?


What product or service will be sold, and is the profit margin worthwhile? What implementation steps are required? What kind of documentation is needed? How many students must participate for the activity to succeed, and what will keep them engaged? How will student safety be addressed? How does this impact instructional time?

Who's in charge?

Who will oversee the fundraiser? How many volunteers are needed to ensure that the fundraiser runs smoothly and is well-documented? Where will these volunteers come from?

Increase the odds you will have a coherent, achievable plan by taking the time now to review next year's fundraising goals and proposed activities.

Susan Brooks-Young is an educational consultant and writer.