The news can’t be avoided. Our public schools are in the midst of an unprecedented budget crisis. All across the nation, school districts are being forced to cut back on programs. In many places, sports, music, arts, foreign languages and other curriculum which are often considered “non-essential” have already seen the chopping block. Forced to tighten their belts, school districts now have to make tough decisions about where to cut next. Proposals such as reducing staff, laying off teachers and cutting the school day and year have all been put forward as budgets continue to shrink.

In a time of such fiscal crisis, school fundraising has become more vital than ever. Many communities are stepping up the effort to bring in new streams of revenue so they can support their students and supplement shrinking government funding.

Unfortunately, with so many groups adding their voice to the fundraising chorus, the effort to raise funds has become a cacophony. Savvy community members and parents can find themselves frustrated, wanting to provide the best education for their children and finding hands out grasping for funding at every turn. Some individuals, tired of the constant barrage of requests, have been turned off completely from the idea of donating to yet another school related cause.

Many fundraisers feel all too familiar. Car washes, bake sales, and candy bar drives all fade into one another, occurring so frequently that community members become exhausted. Confronted by so many causes it’s impossible to keep track of what they have contributed to. Overwhelmed by the crowded fundraising market, some individuals simply stop giving, feeling they have given enough already.

In light of this, it’s important to meet fundraising burnout, with creative and savvy solutions. If your organization finds that its donations are decreasing, it may be time to reassess your efforts and give your fundraising plan a makeover.
Consider what  West Lafayette, School District in Indiana did when it found its schools falling far short of its desired budget. Realizing that many small fundraisers were raising just a little money here or there in a scattershot approach, members of the community created a foundation through which all of the money could be funneled through. Though a number of fundraisers, from barbecues to garage sales, take place, participants know the money goes to one organization. With a united community, the foundation has more power to not only raise funds, but has a strong recognizable brand that can put itself behind political efforts to get new school funding referendums on the ballot.

In this way, traditional fundraising like school carnivals and raffles don’t have to be thrown out completely. Instead the school fundraising groups organize around a central organization that the community can recognize and rally around.