(Family Features) - The perennial shortage of funds for school programs has always challenged the creative spirit of a community. Bake sales and booster clubs have long been a part of fund raising efforts, and community members find that working together makes the difference.
"A team effort towards fund raising nets the biggest benefits," said Lisa Kessel, who works with the Box Tops for Education program at General Mills. "Parents, concerned citizens, teachers, kids, staff, grandparents - everyone wants to support their local school. And getting everyone involved is a win-win for school programs and the community."
Working together, communities reap important benefits, not the least of which is funding school programs endangered by budget cuts.
Keys to successful fundraising programs, according to Kessel, include:
- Ongoing programs that generate dollars throughout the year are ideal.
- Ease of participation. Make it easy for anyone to participate almost without thinking about it.
- Include all community members - not just parents, students and school staff. Your neighbors without school-age kids might be very interested in supporting your local school, as might grandparents.
A proven success in fundraising for school programs is General Mills' Box Tops for Education. Since its debut in 1996, the program has distributed more than $200 million to schools nationwide. That's some serious milk money. The strategy behind this successful fundraising is a practical, no-brainer approach.
"What's easier than clipping Box Top coupons from products you already use?" asked parent Cathie Baldwin, Plymouth, Minn. "It's the easiest fundraiser ever."
The popular fundraising program puts cash directly into a school's budget, to be used wherever it's needed. "I don't imagine there's a school today that doesn't feel financial pressure," says parent Eileen Montoya, Murietta, Calif. "I consider these dollars 'free money,' and I've seen what a difference this program makes at our school."
Another way for schools to earn cash is the Box Tops for Education Marketplace - an online component to the Box Tops program. This virtual one-stop shopping destination highlights more than 60 popular retailers that donate a percentage of the total purchase to the school of the shopper's choice.
Support your local school by registering at www.boxtops4education.com/progress/SchoolEarnings.aspx.. "This connects you with families and schools around the country," said Kessel, "allows you to check your school's fundraising progress, access easy family-friendly recipes, download coupons, discover fun family activities and find even more ways to earn cash back for your school."
A+ tips for fueling fundraising
Local coordinators for Box Tops for Education share their tips to help make your school fundraising successful: Put the fun in fundraising, according to parent Judy Bernstein, Phoenix, Ariz.
Put the fun in fundraising, according to parent Judy Berstein, Phoenix, Ariz. "Have the kids make posters to support your program, and make an art project out of designing ‘drop boxes’ for collecting."
Find fun incentives for staff and students, advised parent Elizabeth Froman, Greenville, Mo. "Celebrate your successes with fun and low-cost events like movie nights, picnic potlucks or a day-at-the-ballpark."
Keep the steam in your team, suggested parent Cindy Mussleman, Lehigh, Pa. "Set mid-term or seasonal goals and spread the word when you’ve reached a measurable goal. Make it ‘real’ by reporting about the new uniforms, sports equipment or musical instruments to be purchased. Trade creative ideas with other communities through the Box Tops website."