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Fundraising is a great way to raise money and advocate for your program, but starting a fundraiser can be a big undertaking. As a busy art teacher, you want to make sure things requiring extra time are really worth it! I recently got the chance to speak with Bill Boncosky, president of Art to Remember (AtR), who told me some insider secrets about making the most of your fundraising experience. Today, I’m sharing those secrets with you!
There are so many different fundraising options available. Luckily, we’ve put together this handy guide that outlines many of them. Bill told me that Art to Remember has many features in place to make the process as easy as possible such as personalized order forms, online ordering, and friendly customer support. In fact, since AtR has introduced personalized order forms, art teachers have reported sales increases of almost 15%!
In addition, at AtR, you can customize your profit margins to fit your school. Bill says, “Most teachers run a 25% or 33% margin, but we allow them to choose the appropriate margin based on their school demographics and their goals. Some schools don’t need additional funding and run very low margins while others adapt it to be much higher.” If you’d like to play around, AtR offers an exclusive Profitability Calculator to get started.
According to Bill, the subject and quality of the artwork can significantly impact your fundraising outcomes. Like many fundraising companies, AtR has some specific guidelines about what makes artwork sell. For example, they suggest using bright, contrasting colors and filling the space. In fact, they even have a whole set of lesson plans you can download for free right here.
If your art room is more studio-based, you may want to think of the fundraising pieces as “commissions.” There’s no chance of an artist statement here, so it is best to go with something immediately recognizable. It’s a known fact that no grandparent can resist a preschooler’s handprint or a child’s whimsical self-portrait.
Although Bill says sales are usually higher around the winter holiday season and around Mother’s and Father’s Day, don’t let that limit you. Think about when YOU can best fit the fundraiser into your curriculum. When is the PTO willing to help out? When are you less-busy with other school commitments? Bill says, “Our most successful schools work with us to promote their program regardless of the season.” This sentiment brings us to number 4.
Bill shared many innovative ways to promote a fundraising program. One of my favorites that he mentioned was teachers donating a part of their sales to a charity of their students’ choosing. Isn’t that brilliant!? The other thing Bill mentioned was to have a specific goal in mind to share with participants. For example, you may say your goal is to buy a kiln, get a class set of iPads or take your class to the local art museum. A concrete goal will help people see how the money will impact your art room and your students.
Another great idea Bill brought up was promoting your fundraiser with a variety of media, both print and online, to reach the widest audience. Display print materials and sample keepsakes at “high visibility” events like your art show, back-to-school night or parent-teacher conferences. Share via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or your classroom blog. You could even have students make announcements on the loudspeaker!
Getting the kids excited about the fundraiser is your number one job.
Did you know that with many keepsake fundraisers, you aren’t limited to having just your students participate? That’s right! Staff members and their families, younger siblings of your students, and even your own family and friends are welcome to participate. Best of all, each of those additional orders helps your bottom line!
The most important thing to keep in mind is not to do a fundraiser alone. Ask others to help you! That includes your fundraising company! Bill says that Art to Remember tweaks their program each year to best meet the needs of art teachers. If you see a way your favorite fundraiser could improve, let them know!
Thanks so much to Bill for taking the time to share his expertise with us. Best of luck with your fundraising this school year from everyone at AOE and AtR!
What tricks have you found to increase fundraising sales?
Do you have any innovative ways to promote fundraisers?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.