Saturday, January 10, 2009

Putting the Fun in Fundraising

For most of us who hold leadership roles in secondary education our thoughts can often come to rest on financial matters. How do we finance the undertaking of Catholic education? Our lay staff demand competitive and just wages, our students deserve the latest and greatest in terms of technology, and our families shouldn't carry the full financial burden on their backs in terms of astronomical tuitions. We want our schools to be elite not elitist.

There is event driven fundraising (auctions, golf outings, socials, galas, etc.) and the myriad of development work (major gifts, annual giving, etc.) and a few of us our even brave enough to bridge over into the world of student based fundraising as well. Our charges sell wrapping paper, magazines, food, or some other highly desirable object. What if instead of treating our students as a budding door to door sales force we treat them as entrepreneurs capable of generating real returns?

A pastor in our diocese tried this with his own parishoners with great success. The Rev. Ric Schneider took $18,000 in donated funds and distributed in $100 lots to 1800 willing parish members with the marching orders of finding creative ways to return the original plus any earnings. Did it work? Absolutely. In the end the seed money was parlayed into $60,500. A percentage of the funds were distributed to a poor sister parish in the Appalachian mountains. Besides the impressive return of 236% the range of actions taken by the parish members is amazing.

What if we took Father Ric's idea and applied it to our own high schools? Would giving groups of hard working students some seed capital produce some big returns? I've got to believe with a little guidance and support Catholic high schools might find similar success. From the administrator's end this would be much more engaging than getting hit up for the annual Christmas wreath and cookie dough sales. Any thoughts or comments? Hats off to Father Ric and his parish for being so creative.

picture credit:


Chris said...

What a fantastic idea! The notion of lots of people each doing a little bit is a so much more equitable (not to mention more interesting!) way of thinking about fundraising. More importantly it places far greater value in the participants creativity, energy, ambition, competitiveness, drive and sense of satisfaction.
What I like about this method of fundraising is that it makes a basic assumption that most people are capable of having worthwhile ideas, it makes the lender (the church in this case) a partner in the risk while clearly placing strong trust in the ability of those who are loaned the money, and it allows participants to be fully engaged in the process. It teaches participants good lessons about their ability to contribute through their own creativity, and no doubt would have spurred some of them on to take risks trying ventures that they may not have tried otherwise.
So much better than having an annual chocolate drive!

Ann Oro said...

This could be an interesting idea for high school students. It could be great for school clubs or maybe business classes. I enjoyed hearing about Rev. Schneider's story. I hadn't heard about it before reading your post.

Ed Shepherd said...

WoW! What a great idea. This is an example of Crowdsourcing hard at work. Take the work of a few and spread it out to the many to see if the quality and quantity is returned. I also second Chris's statement that assumes most people are capable of having worthwhile ideas.

Ed Allen said...

What a brave and imaginative concept. And timely for me as we just started another chance drive and guess who gets to oversee it?

This could certainly work in a high school. It would spur creativity and a sense of community.

It could be an issue with the diocesan accounting procedures, though. There would have to be some strong accountability built in. I assume that was done with Ft. Shneider's plan.

Any ideas on types of things kids could do to make this work?

I am going to share this idea with fellow admins. Thanks!