5 Tips on How to Ask Co-Workers to Support
Your Child's School Fundraiser
It's a feeling I'm sure many of you have had. That sinking sensation in your stomach when you know you've got to hit up your co-workers for cash to support your child's school fundraising project. We've all been there. You hate to impose on the people you work with, but the school needs it, and there's a great prize your kid wants. You can help by selling to as many people as you know.
Is it possible to actually solicit financial support at work and not become a dreaded member of your staff?
The answer is yes, but it's tricky and you must really walk a fine line to avoid this negative reputation.
1. Make Sure You Support Their Kids' Fundraisers
This is the most important tip. I know that this recommendation is going to cost you money, but if you don't buy chocolate chip cookies from your co-worker's kid, she's not going to buy from yours. Office fundraising is definitely a quid-pro-quo arrangement. You will have a lot more confidence asking someone to buy from you if you've already bought from them. This is just one of those occasions in life where it's going to cost you to be a parent. So, unless your office bans this kind of fundraising activity, you've got to jump with both feet into this game.
2. Develop Good Relations Year-round
If you've got kids in school, you can count on having fundraisers in your life. Therefore, unless you plan on officially opting out of the entire practice of fundraising (which is a possibility at some schools), you're going to have to play the game. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you work on your people skills year round. Of course, you'll develop relationships with people naturally, but it wouldn't hurt to be political and not make any enemies. The more friends (or at least acquaintances) you have, the more customers you have.
3. Don't Act Any Differently Toward People who Turn You Down
Of course, not everyone is going to buy a magazine subscription or candy bar or candle although you and I know that they should. And although this might annoy you just a little, you must not let it show. You must treat the people who said no to you with as much respect and friendliness as you would your biggest customer. You never know the reason why you didn't make the sale. It could be bad timing financially, and that's it. That doesn't mean that this same person won't buy from you the next time. So, keep the doors of communication and friendship open and hit them up the next time you've got something big. Make sure you don't develop a reputation for holding a grudge when someone doesn't buy your stuff. That's the surest way to make enemies on your staff.
4. Only Pick the Best Fundraisers to Bring to Work
It is also very important to be judicious when deciding when to hit your co-workers up. All schools hold numerous fundraisers each year. There may be a fall carnival, Christmas wreaths, cookie dough sale, auction, and a golf outing, all in the same year. I would strongly suggest not bringing every one of these into your place of employment. If you do, someone in the shipping department might get some ideas and you could wind up on a slow boat around the globe.
My recommendation would be to talk to a person in charge of fundraising at your school and ask him or her what the fundraising plan for the entire year coming up is. Once you know, think about your strategy at work. Are you really going to get that many people wanting to come to your school's carnival? If not, don't push the issue. On the other hand, if you think you've got some folks on staff who have a sweet tooth, by all means, push it hard.
You can also "spot fundraise", which is a term I've developed for the practice of targeting specific individuals for certain fundraising activities. For instance, you may have a person on your staff who has four little kids. Perhaps, these folks would love to bring their children to your school's carnival, especially if there are things for toddlers to do. Or, perhaps you've got a golf nut on your staff. He'd be a perfect person to approach for the golf outing. No need to bother everyone else about these niche events if you don't think it's worth it.
5. Make as Many Passive Announcements as Possible
In a work-place environment, the best way to make a sale is to have the customer approach you. This way, you know you haven't put any unwanted pressure on anybody.
But, people won't approach you, unless they know what you've got going on. I would, therefore, ask my supervisor if it were ok to hang a flier on an employee bulletin board or place a small notice in the company newsletter. It would also be great if they would let you send out a short email to all the staff announcing what you're selling for your child's school. Make sure to fill the flier or ad or email with as much information as possible for a potential customer to make a decision- dates available, price, varieties, etc. If you work in a large office with many departments, don't forget to add how you can be contacted.
While it would be nice if we never had to ask people for money, the reality is that if we have kids in school, we're going to have to do this at some point. We've all encountered someone who went about this task in all the wrong ways. We don't want to be THAT person. Use the above advice to keep your friends, raise the money, and not be relocated to the basement office.
About the Author: James Berigan is a former school principal who enjoys guiding schools with their fundraising efforts. He writes for the Top School Fundraisers blog which includes a wide variety of ideas for raising funds for schools and extra curricular activities.