School Fundraising Essentials for Rental Professionals
School Fundraising is Easy with a Little Help from Your Rental Company
It’s a safe bet that the vast majority of rental operators reading this article are happy to work with kids. It’s uncommon to find people working in event and party rentals who aren’t. So when it comes to giving back to our communities, helping with school fundraising is a no-brainer.
School fundraising pays for essential classroom supplies, books, computers, art and music equipment, and so much more. So if you’re volunteering your goods and services for an afternoon, or if you’ve been hired by school administrators or the PTA, you can rest assured that your efforts are directly helping kids in your area.
Of course, not everyone knows how to run a school fundraiser successfully. As a small business owner working in event and party rentals, you’re better prepared than most to plan and organize an event like this. But asking people in your community to donate to a worthy cause is significantly different from selling them products and services they need.
Those distinctions can make all the difference between a successful fundraiser and one that fails to reach its goals. So let’s learn what separates the best school fundraisers from the worst, and pick up some great school fundraising ideas. And it would help if we addressed some of the problems with school fundraising efforts, so we’ll do that along the way too.
Fundraiser Goals … and Your Company’s Goals, Too
So what exactly are we hoping to accomplish with a fundraiser event for a school? Raising money is obviously at the top of the agenda, but what other goals should the school be thinking about? And what goals should companies that help fundraise for schools, like yours, set for themselves?
Some of the goals the school might want to aim for include:
- Raise as much money for the school’s specific needs as possible
- Allow staff, parents, students, and the general community to engage socially
- Inform attendees about upcoming school events
- Ensure everyone has fun, so they’re more willing and likely to attend future fundraisers
Meanwhile, the companies that help fundraise for schools should use these events to fulfill their own goals. Remember, the people in attendance are mostly parents. They might want a bounce house rental for future birthday parties, or a party tent rental for their next big backyard barbecue. So your participation is a great way to introduce your company to others.
- Showcase your equipment, professionalism, and work ethic to potential customers
- Distribute business cards and flyers that promote your business
- Network with potential customers, answering questions directly and getting to know people in your community
- Establish your company as a trusted partner for future fundraising events, both with the school and with other stakeholders in attendance who might hire you for other events
- Keep records of your contributions and ask your professional accountant about deductions. The IRS rules regarding pro bono work are confusing and difficult to navigate. It helps to read up on the subject, but definitely talk with a tax expert. You might be able to write off some or all of the event, too!
The Fundraiser Funnel: Using Engagement and Fun to Drive Donations
So what are the commonalities between all of those school fundraisers that make the most money? What separates good school fundraisers from the bad? And how do we maximize donations?
The trick to successful fundraising can be summed in one word: engagement. You want attendees to have fun, be social, and make contributions without really thinking about it. The more fun they’re having, the longer they’ll stay at the event. And that means more opportunities for them to contribute.
It’s all about fulfilling immediate needs and checking off short term goals. The fundraiser isn’t just offering the warm fuzzies you get from donating to worthy causes. You’re also having a good time. You’re playing games, you’re eating pizza, you’re chatting with people you may not spend time with frequently. And by charging for some of that engagement, you’re driving revenue for the school.
Fun fundraising events feature games, snacks, and entertainment. It’s a festive carnival-style environment where attendees are encouraged to play, socialize, and enjoy themselves. And it’s all for a good cause—in this case, school fundraising—so those in attendance know their money holds even more value. It’s one thing to play a carnival game at a state fair, knowing subconsciously it’s all for profit. It’s another thing entirely to know the proceeds are helping better the education of kids in their community.
Fundraising Items for Schools: Leveraging Rental Equipment for a Good Cause
As a rental operator, most of the equipment you work with day to day can be leveraged for school fundraising events. Party tents, commercial inflatables, folding tables and chairs, inflatable games, portable dance floors … school fundraisers can benefit directly from all of the above.
Let’s say you were setting up at a state fair. You’re trying to squeeze as much value out of the space you’ve leased as possible. So you’re going to set up an inflatable water slide, and charge per entry. You might put up some ultralite sealed air games, and maybe some carnival games. Maybe you’re doing a dunk tank, too. And you’re charging for throws or tosses on each of those games.
A school fundraiser would work the same way. The only difference really is how you’re handling the profit. If you’re working pro bono, those funds will go entirely to the school. If you’ve worked out a profit sharing arrangement, the school might get some percentage while you keep the remainder. Either way, your party rental items will become invaluable fundraising items for schools during these events.
This all takes us back to that earlier point about keeping people entertained. The longer someone stays at your event, the more opportunities they have to spend money. And they’re more inclined to spend that money if they’re entertained in the process. Those inflatable games and carnival games generate revenue, but they also entertain people and keep them engaged at the event longer.
There are lots of things to sell at a school fundraiser. And that means there are opportunities for anyone working with party tents. Food and drinks, school t-shirts, and other items generate more revenue, and those products and the people selling them could obviously benefit from setting up under a pop up tent.
School Fundraising is a Noble Cause, and Benefits Your Business Too
Give your local school district a call. Ask them about upcoming school fundraising events, and ask who is organizing those events. With a little networking, you can put your company and your equipment on the right desks and possibly get involved in the planning of these events.
Your rental business is going to benefit from helping out at a school fundraiser, one way or another. Either you’re working for profit and earning money, or you’re working pro bono and reaping the benefits of free advertising to parents and other decision makers who can book you for their own events.
This part goes without saying, but you’ll want to make a lasting impression during these events. Your equipment should be clean, your staff should be presentable, and your charm should be dialed up to eleven. You should use this event to showcase your company, and that’s especially true if you’re doing this event free of charge. You can donate time and resources and still fulfill broader marketing goals.
Whether you’re donating your time, effort, and equipment to a school fundraiser, or you’re turning some degree of profit, you can rest assured that your efforts will help local kids directly. And you won’t find many people working in the event and party rental business who won’t feel pretty good about making that sort of impact.