Dear Fundraisers, Covid-19 is not yet over
I know this because I have Covid right now, and I'm as sick as a dog.
This is my second bout of Covid in four months, can you believe it? And this one was muuuch worse. I've been lying in bed most days, and to tell you the truth, I'm kind of outraged. Not just at the virus laying me low, but at the emails and media I've been reading that say we're post Covid. We are not. I am not. We might be in post-lockdown (hopefully), but we are definitely still very much within Covid.
Which got me to thinking about how you can Covid-proof your school fundraising event. Well, Covid-resist.
The easiest solution? Don't hold an event.
Instead, ask for donations or apply for a grant. How great is that? The money can be sent to you electronically! There's no need for covid-safe protocols. A donation drive can work where schools or parent-body organisations have deductible gift recipient (DGR) status (in Australia) and can issue tax-deductible receipts, as well as having parents who can afford to give. I'm a big fan of fundraising without selling anything, and have won some grants for my school. But in reality, the win rate is low. And DGR constitutions and grants often come with conditions that restrict what you can spend this money on - which might not be what you need to fundraise for! Plus, with or without the DGR set up, unfortunately, in most schools, most families can't afford or don't want to give away something for nothing, especially if you're asking again and again.
Combined with the fact that school fundraising events are also an opportunity to bolster community spirit as well as provide some form of value for your customers' dollar, fundraising events (including products) remain a mainstay for schools.
While by now you're probably aware of the Covid-safe protocols you need to consider (or start to investigate) in order to safely run an event, there are more Covid-related risks for your school fundraiser than just the health issues. So how can you make better decisions to reduce your Covid-related fundraising risk?
Don't hold a large event. Large events have larger risks in a Covid world.
Large events usually need more volunteers to run, more customers to attend, and require a long time to organise - which means a longer period where something might go wrong. They may need a venue to be hired, consumables bought, or a licence. Large events can bring in really big profits, but they also bear more risks - if your volunteers (or you as the organiser) have to isolate, the whole event might need to be cancelled, or at least scaled down. Customers might get ill and can't participate/purchase on the day, or may choose not to attend, to avoid the perceived risks of a large crowd or an enclosed space. These issues could be ongoing, or sudden, and they represent a real risk to the success of your fundraiser.
And it's not just about losing profit. Our students are our motivation for fundraising, and the best fundraisers are when they're at the heart of it. When kids can't participate in the fundraiser, they're bitterly disappointed. They've been looking forward to that colourful, bright, fun event, which ends up being the day (or week) they're at home, sick.
They're devastated. They miss out. They feel the loss of the fun. And for me, as a parent, that's probably the worst outcome.
Instead, hold a product fundraising event
Product fundraiser purchases are more secure, with much less risk to the customer or fundraising team.
Families know they'll get the item they paid for even if they're sick on the day of distribution, because they can collect it when they return (or maybe have it dropped off by a friend). Your school doesn't risk losing the profit, and students don't risk missing out on the fun.
Product fundraisers can be run in advance as pre-sales, where the purchase decision is spread across a couple of weeks. This greatly reduces sales risk, as your customers have many opportunities to make the purchase (even if they're away from school on all of the sales days), versus a large event where sales are restricted to a single day (e.g., a fete).
Product fundraisers can often be run as no-contact events, improving safety for both the fundraising team and the customer families, which again lowers the actual and perceived risk to customers, and can potentially increase sales. Schools can offer use of their website payment services to the fundraising team, increasing no-contact safety and convenience. And many products can be wiped down with sanitiser if there are contact concerns.
As a measure of Covid-risk, product fundraisers certainly have their benefits!
Check out My School Adventure - the book fundraiser for primary schools that's loads of fun, easy to run, and customisable to your school. Only one person needed to organise, and yes, it's run by presales and contact-free ordering!