Market Your School and Raise Funds at the Same Time

A Happy Easter to you and yours!!  Since this week’s Marketing Matter touches on raising funds, consider it a little Easter gift.  It comes from a school that had to close its building (due to structural issues), but not the school.  It spent several years in temporary locations until a new home for it was found back in its home community.  It seemed appropriate since this is the season to celebrate resurrection!

A number of years ago, in association with the local business community, it created “Angel Bucks,” which were distributed to local establishments, like hair care and nail salons, gyms, and restaurants to be placed next to their cash registers.  The coupons (about the size of an index card) provided for a $2.00 contribution to the school for any meal that was purchased at a local restaurant on a particular day (like every third Wednesday).  Other schools, as well as other non-profit organizations, across the country have crafted similar initiatives, partnering with restaurants in their area for a “Discount Dining”night, where 10% of anyone’s check total will be donated to the local organization.  The difference is that with these types of programs, the offer is usually “establishment-driven.”  That is, the school approaches the business and requests to participate in their program, then may be put on the waiting list to participate..  Then, when the school is approved, the school is thrust into action, making flyers and distributing them to families and local businesses.  Then, since other organizations want to participate in the program, the opportunities for the school begin to wane…unless the ownership of the establishment becomes engaged with the mission of the school.

Here’s the difference – the coupons for the school-driven initiative are always visible, whereas the flyers for the restaurant-driven program are not.  The business where the stack of coupons is located is contributing to the marketing efforts of the school so that community members who may not have children in the school can support it.  And even though community members are supporting the school, this is a fundraiser – it’s not development.  That happens when the restaurant ownership comes to the school and wishes to partner with it for other opportunities, such as providing the food for its annual gala at no cost to the school.  The main purpose of the coupons is to keep the name of the school in front of members of the community, so that after constant exposure, they may recommend the school to someone, or investigate the school for themselves if they have school-age children.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2015 (Original Publication Date: 20050404)