The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Fundraising
Imagine raising funds for your school without ever leaving your house. That’s the beauty of online fundraising! When done right, online fundraising brings your community together and helps your school thrive. Online fundraisers can be just as successful as traditional fundraisers. Anyone, anywhere can participate in an online fundraiser, which means distant friends and relatives can join in the fun and support your students too.
However, online fundraising isn’t without its challenges. It can be difficult to capture school spirit when everything’s online.Your fundraiser may get lost among dozens (or hundreds!) of other emails, evites, and social media posts. Hosting an online fundraising event for your school requires just as much work as a traditional in-person fundraiser.
So whether you’re planning an online fundraiser for the first time or you’re new to school fundraising in general, here are some important DO’s and DON’Ts to guide you:
DO: Collaborate with others
Like most things in life, online fundraising is easier with support from a team. Collaboration will help make your fundraiser more successful. Reach out to PTA members, teachers, and other members of your school’s community for assistance. Organizations like Boosterthon can also help plan your event.
When you work with others, you’ll be able to share the workload and delegate tasks. Plus, your fundraising team will provide a bigger online network. Social media is an important part of any online fundraiser because you’ll need to advertise and share the event with as many people as possible. Collaborating expands your fundraiser’s audience.
DON’T: Plan everything alone
Planning a fundraiser by yourself may sound appealing because you’ll have complete control -- but it also means you’ll have to do all the work. There’s no one to brainstorm ideas, help promote the event, or solve problems when something goes wrong. You probably wouldn’t plan an in-person fundraiser all by yourself, so don’t go it alone online, either.
DO: Stick to one idea at a time
Keep it simple. With any fundraiser, your message should be clear and your program should be easy to understand. For an online fundraiser, this is more important than ever. After all, you’re already incorporating technology like social media and/or streaming videos, so you don’t need a confusing theme to make the fundraiser more complicated.
Work with your fundraising team to develop the clearest, strongest idea out of all your suggestions. Remember, you can always save your other ideas for later.
DON’T: Take on too much
Don’t underestimate the amount of work that goes into an online fundraising event. Treat the fundraiser as if it were in-person and delegate accordingly. Talk to your team (using surveys can help) to find out how many hours each person can devote to the fundraiser, then divide up the work. Be realistic about your own expectations and don’t take on too much.
DO: Consider a hybrid approach
As conditions change, there may be an opportunity to adjust your fundraiser so it’s part online, part in-person. For example, if your school is having a talent show or a recital, consider livestreaming the event from the auditorium and inviting a small in-person audience. A hybrid approach can offer the best of both worlds.
DON’T: Refuse to adjust your plan
Make sure your online fundraising plan has room for changes at the last minute. Have a contingency plan in case volunteers get sick, your internet goes out, or other problems arise at the last minute. This is particularly important if you’re planning a hybrid fundraiser with an in-person component. If illnessor other obstacles prevent you from hosting the in-person side of the event, make sure you can pivot so it’s 100% online.
DO: Test your technology before the fundraiser starts
What kind of technology will you be using for your online fundraiser? Most online fundraisers utilize multiple technologies:
- Zoom or other streaming video platforms
- Online payment platforms
- Email newsletters
- Social media
- School fundraising software
Before your fundraiser goes live, ask one of your volunteers to test everything. Check for typos, broken links, poor audio/video, and other errors. If you’re processing donations via crowdfunding, PayPal, or other online platforms, get your account setup before you announce the fundraiser to the public. Make sure payments will successfully go through!
DON’T: Ignore community feedback
Pay attention to your team, as well as other members of your school’s community. What are people saying about your fundraiser? Watch the comments on social media and make sure to read all email replies. For example, you may discover the time for your livestreaming fundraiser event isn’t convenient for parents or other community members. Listen to the feedback from your community. If possible, make changes so your fundraiser is more accessible.
DO: Have fun
Remember, have fun! For an online fundraiser, school spirit and a feeling of celebration are more important than ever. If it’s clear you’re excited about the fundraiser, people will feel more engaged and more likely to participate. Students will have a better time, too.
DON’T: Take it too seriously
No matter how well you plan, sometimes you’ll still encounter problems with your fundraiser. Don’t get discouraged! Keep it light with your planning team, your volunteers, teachers, staff, parents, and students. With the right attitude, even an online fundraising “disaster” can still help your school.
We’ve also got your back at Booster! Booster has helped schools profit over $400 million and we’re here to help your online fundraiser succeed too. Get started here!