Have you ever had a difficult time motivating your students to stay involved with a fundraiser? Did you offer them seemingly fun incentives only to find that they were not enough to pique the interest of your class? Perhaps, offering incentives hadn’t even crossed your mind.

In any case, formulating a plan that will ignite enthusiasm at the beginning of the fundraiser, and also keep the participants excited and motivated is key to ensuring maximum participation, and in turn, higher total funds raised.

Another crucial factor is the cost effectiveness of incentives. There are many low-cost, and even some completely free ways to incentivize your fundraising participants. Let’s discuss a few options that will excite your students without breaking the bank.

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Recognition Throughout the Fundraiser

A shout-out in the morning announcements, a leader board in the classroom, or a mention on the school website or bulletin board can go a long way. Prizes, food, and parties are fantastic ideas, but you can make your students feel truly special by congratulating them in front of the whole school for a job well done. Also, this is completely free, and will motivate other students to put more effort into the fundraiser.

Prizes and the Power of Thinking Small

Be sure not to underestimate the power of a trend. Try to keep an eye on the current things that students are going crazy for. Bracelets, pens, and erasers may only cost pennies, but they could quickly become coveted collectors’ items if the timing is right. If you are worried about starting a mania, keep a leader board that shows which prizes, and how many, each participant has earned. Then, simply distribute at the end of the campaign accordingly.

Staggering Rewards During the Fundraising Campaign

If your participants have proven themselves to be mature about prizes, distributing prizes weekly throughout the fundraising campaign may keep everyone interested—It is a wise idea to save these prizes for Friday, at the end of the school day. This way, they will have something to look forward to (and to work toward) during the academic week, while still having the weekend to settle before Monday. Try combining this method with the initial idea of recognizing and encouraging the students whom were not the top performers by offering them advice on how to raise more before the next Friday. This is a great way for students to learn how to monitor their own progress and set goals within established timeframe.

Sponsored Rewards and Other Free Options

Does the PTA have a relationship with any local restaurants? A sponsored pizza or lunch party could potentially cost next to nothing, and if the students have worked especially hard, a cookie cake could be the cherry on top!

Easier options include “wear pajamas to school day”, in-class movie time, or maybe a surprise visit from a litter of puppies or kittens. These are the kinds of ideas that will certainly require administrative approval, so be ready to point back to the importance of the funds you are attempting to raise. You may also want to keep some cleaning supplies on hand if you go with the furry friends option!

Administration Involvement

Having the approval of the administration from the moment you begin planning your campaign could pay off big time during the fundraiser. Make sure that the principal is aware of your fundraising and incentive program. He, or she, is the biggest ally that you can have. Ideally, they would be involved directly with the campaign. If enthusiasm is waning two weeks into the fundraiser, there is almost nothing more invigorating to participants than the idea of Ms. Morris dyeing her hair orange for a week!

Ready to Start Your Fundraiser?

Experiment with these five options to find an effective balance that works for your students, and discover an efficient way to incentivize at your particular school. By having a well thought-out plan, ensuring that the administration is on your side, and knowing the incentives that your participants respond most enthusiastically to will put you on the path to a much more successful fundraising experience.