Whether you do them on your own, as a team or an entire staff, well-coordinated events can really add up and get you well on your way to journalism camp. This is a short list, which we expect to grow. Do you have a great fundraiser your staff does? Share it with Workshop Director Chad Sanders, and it will be in the next update of this guide! Send your great ideas to.
The key to raking in the cash (10 cents at a time) is preparation. Advertising, picking a collection area, and having enough volunteers to run the thing are key. If you get out into your community, you’ll be surprised how many people are happy to help you out with their returnables. (It doesn’t really cost them a thing!)
Everyone loves a sweet treat, and everyone has a few quarters to spare. Just like bottle drives, the key to a successful bake sale is planning and advertising. If you can tie it to a well-attended event like conferences or a game, even better!
Meet with a local Sylvan Learning Center and they will proctor an ACT review and practice test. Students pay for the session (which they say costs less than other practice exams), and your program receives a portion of the profits. Helping kids do better on the ACT, and make money? Yes, please!
Christmas or Birthday Present
Maybe you really need another sweater, but grandma would probably be thrilled to know she can help support you in your passion for journalism. If she wants to make sure you don’t spend a cash gift on something else, she can make a tax-deductible donation in your name by credit card or check.
Lots of restaurant chains do fundraiser nights (or, in some cases, breakfasts). You get people in the door at the given time, and they donate a portion of their profit to your staff. Often, the staff will work the event as greeters or even waiters.
Like so many of these ideas, advertising and planning is key. Send home notes, get on the announcements, post signs. Get people to plan on a car wash. Keep your cost as low as possible by asking for donations of supplies. You’ll need buckets and towels, sponges and soap… all that adds up if you buy it yourself. Find a high-visibilty spot for your event, as most of your business will be spur-of-the-moment decisions. Oil changes other places like to host these, as they bring people in that might decide they need to buy something else while they’re there.
As for pricing, usually asking for a donation gets you more than if you try to be competitive. If they stopped, it’s because they want to help you out, not for the convenience.
There are a gajillion companies that will make discount cards for you to sell. The setup is usually fairly inexpensive. Also, many restaurant chains (Pizza Hut, Subway) have discount card programs you can participate in, as well.
BUT, if you really want to keep as much profit as possible, make your own. You’re a publication, right? Create and publish your own cards, dangit! It doesn’t have to be hard plastic like a credit card … you can print it on card stock and get it hard-laminated and it will look very nice.
Doing it on your own means you’ll have to hustle up some discounts for your card, but it won’t be hard. Many businesses will just give you whatever offer they gave the big discount card people from Spokane. Sometimes, they’ll give you a better deal because they know you. The discounts will be worthwhile … Buy one, get one half-off can really add up. You don’t need more than 12 or 18 discounts to really feel like $5 or $10 is a good deal.
Sometimes, school dances are more trouble than they’re worth. But, if your school has a good history with them, see if there’s a chance you can get in on the action. Use your skills to make it special: have photographers set up a photo shoot, make sure lots of candids and video show up on your website. Think about a theme or unique hook, make it seem like an “event.”
Remember, before the night even starts, you’re out any money for the DJ, refreshments or other rental fees. Get as many parents involved as possible, and keep costs down.
A few advisers mentioned ad sales commissions as something they did on their staffs. Every staff is different, and we can’t guarantee that your adviser will be able to offer this as an option. On staffs that allow this option, staff members are given a share of their ad sales toward camp. It works differently from staff to staff. Here are two scenarios:
For some advisers, it is a percentage commission of any ad sales. For example, a $200 ad would net $20 or $40 into the student’s MIPA camp account. The advantage of this method is that a student sees immediate results. The disadvantage is that every precious ad sale has a portion going away from paying for the book or paper.
For other advisers, a larger portion (say, 50 percent) goes to the student’s fund once he/she meets a minimum goal. For example, if the ad sales goal for a newspaper student is $300, and she sells $500 in ads ($200 extra), then $100 (50 percent of the extra) would go into her camp account. The advantage here is that the publication is getting the first chunk that it needs at 100%. The disadvantage may be that less kids receive funding because they don’t go above and beyond. One adviser said that any ad sold for the next year’s publication funds the student’s account at 100 percent.
What other ideas do you have? Tell Chad about them so we can share them with everyone.