Q Are there any school fundraising programs online?
A Fundraising-it's a word that makes parents scowl.
Without extra money from the sales of candles or entertainment books, many schools, scout troops and sports teams struggle to afford supplies and programming. But the pressure to buy and sort wrapping paper orders, magazine subscriptions or boxes of peanut brittle can make parents cringe.
Thanks to technology, there may be a slight reprieve to the door-to-door sales pitches of the past. Some fundraising companies are creating online tools and resources that allow schools to post fundraisers online and ship products directly to supporters. Others create social media options, so word can spread on Facebook and through email to increase sales easily. And still others offer year-round support when patrons use a registered card or make purchases.
Before your school signs on for another candle sale or coupon book booster, check out these options:
1 Online gift cards. Fundraising companies have gone the way of the gift card. For example, Sally Foster offers the option to buy gift cards in amounts of $10, $20 or $40. Cards can be used for hundreds of products, including wrapping paper, baked goods and chocolates at Sallyfoster.com. Supporters can shop at their leisure and schools earn 40 percent for every item sold, without pickup, coordinating or delivering products.
2 Give directly. New online sites take the "stuff" (i.e. chocolates, stationary) out of the fundraisers and concentrate directly on donations. Sites like OneCause.com, GoFundMe.com and Fundly.com make it easy to set up a Web page to accept donations to help your cause, school or team.
3 Donor matches. AdoptAClassroom.com helps match a class in need with generous donors-not just parents and neighbors-through social networking, email and site promotions. The classroom receives 100 percent of the donations, can spend the money at online retailers and have supplies shipped directly to school. Donations are tax deductible and donors reports to how their donations were used.
4 Tradition with a twist. Many traditional fundraisers have also added a tech twist. Looking for Girl Scout cookies? Try the Cookie Locator app for iPhone and Android. The Entertainment Book fundraiser now includes additional online coupons. Before you scrap an older, successful fundraiser, find out how you can use new tech features to increase the success of your sales efforts.
5 Max out your network. Whether you're selling candy bars, having a car wash or gearing up for a good ol' bake sale, everyday technology is a great way to get the message out. Post messages and set up events on Facebook, send an email out to friends and parents, and talk to your school about using the school or organization's website for announcements and promotions.
Sharon Cindrich is a mother of two tech-savvy kids from Virginia Beach. Learn more at sharoncindrich.com.
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