Public funding for afterschool programs is at historic lows 1,with just 47% of K-12 spending nationally comes from state funding. While Congress recently approved $1.2B in funding for this fiscal year— an increase that will help schools provide homework assistance, meals and enrichment activities across the country – afterschool programs continue to be wary about their funding in the future.
Because of this uncertainty, fundraising for afterschool activities will remain a necessity, with 2% of program fundraising2 for afterschool programs coming from individual donors. Program directors will need to keep fundraising fresh with creative ideas that engage a new generation of parents beyond the traditional car washes and bake sales. Below, we’ll give you some tips for fundraising and merchandising to keep your program funded throughout the school year.
Get Social When Fundraising for Afterschool Programs
According to a report by the website Nonprofit Tech For Good3, 21% of peer-to-peer fundraising dollars come in via a direct click-through on social media. We’re willing to bet you have seen a GoFundMe campaign come across your social media feeds in the last week. It’s easier than ever to leverage social media relationships between your program’s parents to fundraise for your afterschool program.
With social media, you can fundraise for afterschool programs without cutting into your bottom line. For instance, you can hold virtual events such as silent auctions without having to spend any money on event space or food. Facebook Live is another way to include parents and kids in an event without them having to leave the house.
Another advantage to encouraging your parents to fundraise via social media is that they can reach out to donors who may not be familiar with the program and may also be more willing to donate. It also spreads your geographical reach around the world, rather than keeping it strictly to your community as a physical event or in-person fundraising would do.
You can maximize your return on using social media for fundraising for afterschool programs by keeping these principles in mind:
- Make it personal
- Share your vision
- Use your interpersonal skills
- Find experts who understand peer-to-peer fundraising as well as social media experts
For more tips on using social media for fundraising for afterschool programs, take a look at our blog4.
Give Parents a Date Night as Fundraising for Afterschool Programs
Not all fundraising activities have to have children in attendance. You can refresh your fundraising efforts by giving parents a much-needed night of adult activities away from their kids. Try ideas like:
- Wine and paint nights – These are extremely popular and give parents a chance to bond, while drinking wine and receiving instruction to paint a canvas.
- Adult night at the museum – Many museums host adults-only evenings and may be willing to partner with you to fundraise for your afterschool program.
- Classic video game tournament – Host a fun night in using systems that parents played when they were kids, like the original Nintendo Entertainment System or Sega Genesis.
Selling tickets to events like these and offering prizes are excellent ways to get your parents involved in fundraising for afterschool programs. You can also offer child care for the evening so that parents don’t have to worry about finding a sitter.
Another way to include date night as part of your fundraising for afterschool programs is to get sponsor restaurants to donate a gift certificate or specific “night out for two” that you can auction. This allows parents to choose what night they go out, and you can generate buzz by including several popular restaurants in the area. Create a full package to make it truly appealing to parents.
Mix and match the following elements to put a package together:
- Dinner for two
- Movie tickets
- Paid babysitting
- Theater tickets
- A driving service or cab fare
- Concert tickets
Giving parents an excuse to go out while raising funds for your afterschool program is an excellent way to get them involved.
Sell Branded Items to Help Fundraise for Afterschool Programs
Merchandising is another great way to fundraise for afterschool programs, but you need to come up with fresh ideas or your merchandise won’t sell. Tee shirts have long been a mainstay of events and community groups. They give participants a feeling of solidarity and provide extra marketing for your program. However, parents need a reason to buy their kids or themselves another tee shirt for a community program. You can spruce up plain tee shirts in the following ways to appeal to parents and kids alike:
- Opt for soft or luxe materials such as a 50/50 blend, or ring spun cotton
- Create an interesting design or have a contest for a child or parent to design the shirt
- Include printing on unexpected places, like on sleeves, seams, or the back
- Use dye sublimation or textile foil to make the design pop
To move your merchandising beyond tee shirts, consider other branded items you could sell, such as mugs, hats, jackets, sports equipment (golf balls), or sunglasses. Many screen printing providers are now shifting to a live-print model, where they print on-site to avoid inventory or pre-order debacles.
Remember: Your Program is Worth Fundraising For
No matter what you do to fundraise for afterschool programs, it’s important to keep in mind that your afterschool program is absolutely worth it. Research5 shows that Community Learning Centers have several benefits for kids, including:
- Improving academic performance
- Reducing absenteeism
- Keeping kids engaged in learning
- Improving kids’ foundational skills
Keep these facts in mind anytime you start to fundraise for afterschool programs. Communicating the program’s value will help give parents a reason to donate, and help remind you why you’re conducting fundraising in the first place.
Want more ways to raise funds for your afterschool program? Check out ACTIVEWorks Camp & Class Manager’s Merchandising features.