12 Moneymakers for Schools
By Lori Hadacek Chaplin
After years of experience with sales fundraisers, I know that one of the secrets is a belief in the product that you’re selling. Both the seller and buyer generally feel good about a fundraiser that not only helps support the school, but also aids religious orders, Christians in the Holy Land, the poor, or small family businesses. If you like what you’re selling, you’re willing to buy it yourself, and you believe in the mission of the fundraiser, that will impact success positively.
Brice Sokolowski of CatholicFundraiser.net and author of Pray, Pray, Ask — a practical guide to fundraising — told TCT, “The best fundraisers are always the ones that are closely aligned to the school’s mission.” He recommends surveying students, parents, and teachers to get people’s feedback before choosing a fundraiser.
“A lot of times Catholics are in a bubble — especially when they are trying to organize an event. Organizers think they know what people want or need, and they get upset when sales don’t go well because they didn’t present what people wanted.”
Sokolowski recommends discussing the fundraiser with the parish because usually the parish will be your customer base. “Go to the parish and say, ‘We are going to run this event with these types of items. Is this what you are interested in, or is there anything else we can provide that you’d be interested in purchasing?’”
Here are 12 fundraisers that students, teachers, and parents will all get excited about:
CRS Fair Trade Fundraiser
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Community Orders, in partnership with nonprofit Serrv, provides a way to help impoverished artisans and farmers around the world to get a fair price for handmade gifts such as scarves, jewelry, decor, clothing, and chocolate. With this fun moneymaker, items are bought outright, and schools get 20 percent off orders over $300. The school dictates the prices, allowing for a 20 percent or more profit. CRS provides catalogs, promotional materials, and educational resources. All products are shipped free of charge to one address, and checks are made out to the school or a designated organizer who is responsible for delivering or organizing a pickup.
Tiny Saints Fundraiser
Tiny Saints keychain charm, rosary, and board book fundraiser — featuring hundreds of different saints — offers two programs called Buy & Sell and Order & Deliver. With Buy & Sell, Tiny Saints supplies marketing materials, and schools purchase the charms for a table or event sale. The larger the order, the bigger the discount. For example, with an order of at least 40 charms, there’s a 20 percent discount; for 500 charms, a 40 percent discount, and for 2,000 charms, a 60 percent discount. With the Order & Deliver option, schools take orders, using order forms and marketing materials. On completion of fundraising, the school orders online using the earned discount code. The money left over after purchase is the profit. Free shipping on U.S. orders over $20.
Catholic Fundraising Ideas
Catholic Fundraising Ideas offers exceptional holy cards, Christmas and Easter cards in English and Spanish, and stationery featuring beautiful classic and contemporary religious artwork. Schools make between 40-60 percent profit on the items sold. The family-owned Catholic company offers three fundraising programs, and schools may choose to utilize one or more. With their 50% Plan — earning a 50 percent profit — the school collects payments, then places orders. The 60% Plan — earning a 60 percent profit — requires the school to purchase products up front with a “no returns” policy. A third option, the Online Program, can be used alone or in conjunction with either of the other plans. This program earns schools 40 percent on purchases and allows schools to fundraise year-round. Schools enrolled in the online option receive a quarterly check and a sales recap of all products purchased. Free samples of fundraising products are available.
Holy Spirit Monastery’s Fundraising Program
With Holy Spirit Monastery’s Fundraising Program, schools sell delicious food — Southern-style fruitcake, peach fudge, fruit and nut biscotti, wildflower honey, and organic coffee — made by the Trappist Monks in Conyers, Georgia. All products are provided on consignment, so your school only pays for products that are sold. The monastery works closely with schools to help them determine how much to order, develop a product storage plan, arrange for pickup and delivery of products, and more. Schools earn approximately one-third of all sales proceeds, and the program also benefits the monastery.
Printery House Fundraiser
Catholic schools have the option of selling any Printery House products offered online or in their catalog, including cards for all occasions, calendars, religious art, rosaries, and much more. Upon enrollment in the fundraiser, schools receive a wholesale catalog. The school is responsible for keeping track of orders, taking payment, and deliveries. There’s no minimum order, and the school may call in orders as often as needed. Shipping charges apply. There is also the option of ordering in advance for a sale. The program gives schools a wholesale discount rate for the items, and schools earn 30 to 50 percent profit on sales. Proceeds also help support the ministry of Conception Abbey and Conception Seminary College.
Seattle Seed Co. Fundraiser
Family-owned and operated, Seattle Seed Co. offers 100 percent organic, non-GMO seed fundraisers along with a selection of organic gifts — soap, culinary herbs, tea, and more — costing $5 to $25. Schools earn 50 percent on every sale by selling door-to-door and/or online. Seattle Seed Co. notes that while schools using the door-to-door model have better return rates, the best option is to utilize both models. With door-to-door, the school sells, calculates orders, and collects money. Each order has a flat shipping rate of $5, and purchases are mailed directly to the customer. Their year-round program requires no upfront costs, and schools with garden programs are eligible to receive free seeds.
Prayer Pillowcases Fundraiser
Prayer Pillowcases offers an attractive fundraiser with pillowcases featuring religious art and prayers in English or Spanish. Schools can choose from three different programs, all with no upfront costs. The Presale Program allows the school to keep 40 percent of the profits; the school sells from the brochure provided by the company, and the company ships orders to the school for distribution. The Display Table Program also allows the school to keep 40 percent of the profits; the school preorders the pillowcases, sells, and ships back any unsold product. With the third option, the Shop’n Share Online Program, the school keeps $3.25 from the sale of each pillowcase sold at PrayerPillowcase.com using your school’s special code, and the items purchased are shipped for free to customers.
Totally Catholic Fundraising
Totally Catholic Fundraising offers a selection of more than 500 Catholic jewelry items, rosaries, and wall crucifixes imported from Italy and the Holy Land. Schools can either sell from a color brochure or order upfront for a table sale. Jewelry items sell for $10 to $22, rosaries from $12 to $36, and crucifixes from $16 to $108. Shipping is free, but there’s a small shipping charge for returns. The fundraiser nets 50 percent on every item sold. Nicole Stoker, business manager for Totally Catholic Fundraising, told TCT, “The average school will profit $1,000 on our fundraiser.”
Monks’ Bread, Biscotti, and More
With the Monks’ Bread fundraiser, the school sells freshly baked breads and several flavors of biscotti, as well as jam and coffee made by the monks. This fundraiser helps your school and supports the Trappist monks at the Abbey of the Genesee in their ministry of prayer and hospitality. Monks’ Bread provides schools with a template for a pre-order form; schools take preorders and Monks’ Bread schedules the pickup, delivery, or shipment. All items come in bulk, so schools are responsible for dividing and distributing orders. Items are offered at wholesale pricing; the school can set whatever retail price they choose. Retail price suggestions are offered. Heidi Spateholts, Monks’ Bread fundraising coordinator, noted, “A local high school charged $3.50 for bread [wholesale price is $2] and $8.00 for biscotti [wholesale $4]. In one week they raised $1,800 for their student council.”
Faith Factory T-Shirts Fundraiser
Fundraise with Faith Factory T-Shirts’ Christian-themed tees and hoodies. Choose from two ways to earn money: Brochure Sales or Display Table Sales. With Brochure Sales, the company supplies the customizable brochures and order forms, the school takes orders, and Faith Factory T-Shirts ships products to the school to distribute. Students will especially enjoy this program because sellers earn one free T-shirt for every 10 sold. With the Display Table Sales program, the school receives 12 of the company’s best-selling T-shirts, two easels, two cardboard T-shirt-shaped forms, shirt samples for sizing, and price signs. Schools may keep the display for up to three weeks to encourage sales. The suggested selling price is $20 for adult T-shirts and $15 for children’s sizes; profits are $8 per adult T-shirt and $6 per kid’s tee. Hoodies sell for $35 to $40, with a profit of $10 to $12.
Mystic Monk Coffee
Choosing a fundraiser that sells a product most people use every day is a smart way to go. With Mystic Monk Coffee, schools earn around 40 percent profit. Although they offer a catalog sales option, the monks say that bulk orders sold after Mass or at school functions work best. There is no minimum order, and there is free shipping on orders over $100. Their coffee is high-quality, and it comes in many different flavors, including Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Caramel, and Irish Cream.
Equal Exchange Fundraiser
With the Equal Exchange fundraiser, schools have the option of selling organic, fair-trade goods, including Swiss-made chocolate bars in several flavors, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, baking cocoa, and olive oil. The beauty of fair-trade products is that they’re high quality and slave labor wasn’t used to grow them. Schools make a 40% profit using the fundraising catalog; a table-sales option allows schools the freedom to dictate prices after purchasing products upfront. There’s no minimum order, and there’s free shipping for orders $135 and up. The company ships catalog orders in bulk and includes paper shopping bags for schools to sort and distribute products. I’ve sold Equal Exchange chocolate to fundraise for my pro-life billboard ministry, so I can attest that their chocolate is excellent and easy to sell.
Beyond product fundraisers
Product fundraisers are great potential moneymakers for schools, but they also offer a way to connect with bigger donors, so don’t forget to ask for people’s contact information.
Consider this type of fundraiser as an opportunity to help the community learn about your school and as a way to get to know people. Brice Sokolowski advises schools to look to the long term and to build a relationship with the 100 or 200 people that are going to buy what you are selling.
He says, “You might not get all of them, but I guarantee that there’s going to be 20-25% of the people you meet would be interested in staying in touch.”
These are the people who believe in your school’s mission, and they are potential future donors.
Fundraisers shouldn’t be the only time the school community comes together. Schools should plan low-cost community events that build relationships. “If fundraisers are the only time a school community socializes, then they’re hindering themselves,” Sokolowski explains. “A lot of times we forget that making connections with people is the real magic. We don’t have to constantly ask people to give. If what you’re doing is amazing, then people will want to support it.”
Avoid jumping into a fundraiser without a clear plan and realistic expectations. Fundraising coordinators should ask themselves six questions:
- How much money do we need?
- Do we have a realistic fundraising target?
- How much money can we potentially make with our chosen fundraiser?
- How long will our fundraiser last?
- Where will we sell?
- Is this an attractive fundraiser that our school and parish will support?
Lori Hadacek Chaplin lives in Idaho with her husband, David, and their four children. Check out her column, Everyday Miracles, at CatholicDigest.com.
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