August 10, 2016

Classroom Fundraising Series: Day 3- Use Your Local Resources (They Want to Help)!

(This is the third installment in a series of posts about classroom fundraising. Several of the topics can also be applied outside of the world of teaching, as well! So sit back, grab a hot [or iced] cup of coffee, and stay awhile!)

Hey, everyone! Thanks for tuning in to Day 3 of my Classroom Fundraising series! (You can find Day 1 here and Day 2 here.) This next set of thoughts and ideas is something that can be utilized by any business trying to secure donations, so I'm really excited to share it with you.

After Donors Choose, my next favorite way to ask for donations for my classroom is to simply pick up my phone. It's really that simple!

Something that I have found to be true is this: despite what teachers seem to occasionally think, we're not alone. Generally speaking, people love schools and want to be able to help in any way that they can!

For example... last year, my kindergarten colleagues and I decided to throw an ice cream party for our students who had learned 90% of our 86 sight words we taught throughout the year. They had worked so hard, and they deserved a treat! But, we didn't have any money for the party. We couldn't charge the students, we didn't want to ask their parents to send in supplies, and we didn't want to use our kindergarten funds (because we needed them for the end-of-the-year picnic), so we knew that everything would have to be donated.

We sat down and made a list of everything we would need (ice cream, toppings, sprinkles, bowls, spoons, etc.) and then determined who we would ask to donate them. Then, I called around to different places to see what we could come up with. After about 20 minutes on the phone, I had gotten Kroger to donate a $25 gift card to purchase the food items, and Wendy's to donate 60 small bowls and spoons. We were able to throw a fantastic little ice cream celebration for our students, and we paid nothing out of our own pockets or funds for it!

A very similar thing happened when it was time to plan the end-of-the-year picnic. We decided what we needed, and then determined where we could get the items from. I made some calls and ended up with a Walmart gift card to help us purchase hot dogs and buns, and a donation of 200+ water bottles from Giant Eagle. A coworker called and got plates donated from Donato's for free. While we still had to pay some money out of our kindergarten fund, we got a vast majority of the items for the picnic donated.

Are you convinced yet? :)
Now, let's talk about the elephant in the room. 

Now you know that you should be calling to ask for donations... but how?! If you know me personally, you know that I'm awkward. Like, I'm potentially the most awkward person on the planet. This problem of mine is exponentially intensified whenever I'm on the phone with someone I don't know! To help solve this problem, I had a little script that I made up. I brainstormed any questions that I thought someone might ask about our projects and jotted down potential answers, so I wouldn't be caught off-guard. (Like I said... awkward.)

Whenever I called a store or restaurant, I always immediately asked to speak with a manager (specifically, a manager in charge of donations). Once I had a manager on the line, I began by introducing myself and telling my job title and where I worked, then dove right into our project and how they could help.

(Bonus tip from Ron Clark of the Ron Clark Academy: always begin with, 
"Hi! I'm not sure if you're able to help me out, but..."
If you question their ability to help, they'll want to help even more to prove your thoughts wrong! 
It's my tried-and-true method, and I use it every time!)

When I called to ask for help with the ice cream party, I was as specific as I could be.

"Hi! My name is Rebecca and I'm calling from (my school). I teach kindergarten here! I'm calling because we are having a party for our students who learned 90% of their sight words this year. They worked really hard, and we want to celebrate with them! Unfortunately, our budget is super tight. I don't know if you will be able to help, but do you think your store might be able to donate 2 gallons of ice cream to our school?"

And, as you already know, that one phone call yielded much bigger results than I had imagined. Instead of just donating ice cream, they donated a gift card that allowed us to buy all of the food supplies we needed! It was definitely worth 15 minutes spent on the phone.

Well, I hope you've found something useful in this post! As always, please let me know if you have any comments or questions about today's info. :)

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