6 Ways School Districts Can Find New Funding
Evaluate your fundraising programs
Audit your ticket sales
Measure traffic to your websites
Evaluate media in the market
Use a master list
Sell naming rights
Any size school district. Any School. Can do it.
Over the last decade, I've heard all the reasons why a school district shouldn't update and improve their advertising and sponsorship programs... either thinking they needed the top football team to they are too small to they are in a market that doesn't have any large local companies.
None of these are accurate.
There are six ways school can quickly start a new fundraising sales
program (or rebuild the one they have) and start doubling or even tripling their revenues over the next 12 months.
1.) Evaluate your fundraising programs
Many school districts are running on ineffective and outdated fundraising models. These models use outdated methods and platforms that no longer work and only generate money to those companies that have to say yes because they make so much money off the school district through some sort of relationship. These include monthly newsletters, outfield signage, and "partners in education" programs that promise things with no fulfillment program. These partnerships are toxic and, when you don't deliver what you say on a partnership, it has effects that reach throughout all your other partnership programs. Get an outside company and do an audit of what your currently doing, what money it brings in, and recommendations for how to improve it.
2.) Audit your event ticket sales
It's pretty crazy to think that school events with thousands of people in attendance, all paying cash to volunteers, don't have better auditing systems. First, it would it be fiscally sound to make sure there's a check and balance system in place and that the ticket dollars are actually making it back to the school. Secondly, an audited ticketing program can generate larger sponsor dollars through more sponsors paying more money and shows sponsors that you take the business seriously. It adds value all around and can even transfer in how sponsors view your other platforms that may not be so easily measured.
3.) Measure traffic to your websites
Similar to auditing event ticket sales and having a solid understanding of your programs and their values, understanding who and how many people are visiting your websites is integral to the success of your advertising and fundraising efforts. At a minimum, you need to know how many people are visiting your website. If you already know this and want to get more details to generate more dollars, ask how many are returning users, average time on your website, and get individual page visits measured.
4.) Evaluate the media in the market
Find out what the media in the market are charging for ads and sponsorships. This will make sure your ad inventory is competitive and maximizing the dollars you should be generating for the work you are doing. There's two ways this can go: You find out you are under-charging and sponsors back out because they think it's "too cheap" and that conveys the impression to them that you don't understand your programs or you don't fulfill your programs. Perceived value is important and that comes with accurate pricing. The second way this can go is you find out you are charging way over market pricing and you can adjust down to start to actually sell your inventory. I've seen many times where a district has determined, through their own opinion, an arbitrary cost for an ad or sponsorship and it just sits... unsold. It, like other situations, can carry it's effect into other sponsorship ad opportunities since it never sells and potential buyers know it's not competitive with other opportunities in the market.
5.) Use a master list
When you are getting serious, all departments should use a master list. This allows anybody on your staff that is approaching outside companies with advertising opportunities, fundraising opportunities, and/or sponsorship opportunities, to see what this person is doing in other areas of your schools and school district. There are some great platforms like SalesForce but they can be really expensive. You can also create your own using a SmartSheet or even an EXCELS file if you have to but have a system.
The number one complaint I've heard over the years from sponsors is that they are underappreciated (and the other was the lack of fulfillment) so make them feel appreciated. When you call or visit them, thank them first and foremost on what they have done for you. Treat sponsors, advertisers, and donors as people and value what they've done for you. Reach out to them with new opportunities and show you know what is important to them and you can do very well here. There's many scenerios where 20% of the school community partners are bringing in 80% of the money to the school district. Take care of them.
6.) Sell naming rights
Being able to sell naming rights depends on the amount a facility is used, how many people come to it, and how much you can package to make it attractive. There's a gold rule: Creative partnerships almost always generate more money than places that just have good numbers of events and numbers of attendees. Bring relevant partners to the table. Provide them an integrated opportunity. And watch them sell future properties for you. Find innovative ways to promote your programs and creative ways to differentiate the opportunity from other opportunities in the school district.
No matter what, get creative. Find ways that are relevant to the brand you are working with. And integrate them into your programs. Here are a two of our all-time favorites. A menu campaign for SeaWorld and an anti-bullying campaign for Sprint.