For K-12 schools and associated club and sports programs, the ability to devise and execute a variety of successful fundraising efforts throughout the year is no longer a luxury. For many of these programs today, it is a matter of survival.
One of the most lucrative methods of fundraising is through printed materials such as calendars, posters, catalogs and greeting cards. With a minimal investment these items can generate thousands in fundraising revenue, but they have to be done right.
“Where our old school calendar broke even and was hardly worth the effort, our new calendar made over $3,000,” says Nathan Garner, band director of the award-winning 75-member Hamilton Aggie Marching Band of Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ala. “Our program depends on fundraising. We can’t afford unproductive, generic efforts.”
Fundraising decision makers like Garner need to know what the best revenue generators are; how to increase return; offset materials costs; and also maximize advertising revenue, donations, community involvement and even media coverage. One of the best ways they can guarantee success is by learning from other schools that have done it best.
Garner was able to achieve his dramatic turnaround in revenue from calendars after he discovered useful information at the website of Printing Center USA, an online print specialist that provides a Market Smarts section for educators.
“I was very interested to see what has worked at other schools,” Garner says.
Marching to a $3,000 profit
The Hamilton Aggie Marching Band had sold an annual band calendar before, but it was a relatively small tear-off type with a single picture at the top, printed by a local printer. “We’d sold ads to local businesses in our old calendar, but they were so small, they were more of a donation,” Garner says, adding that he saw the possibilities of creating a larger, custom band calendar.
“For the same price we’d done the smaller tear-out calendar before, we created a large 28-page calendar with a full-color photo of the band on the cover, and black-and-white photos of the band and kids inside,” he says. “Friends and families loved seeing their kids in the bigger photos, and businesses liked the bigger ads.”
Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, California. He writes about health, business, technology, and educational issues, and has an M.A. in English from C.S.U. Dominguez Hills.