Monday, November 16, 2015

School Fundraising with Discount Cards

A segment of our readers are involved with the Parent Teacher organization (aka PTA or PTO) at their child’s school, so I try to share school fundraising opportunities as I come across them. In the past, I have written about passive fundraising efforts with school uniform providers and others. With passive fundraisers, the school or PTA registers with the company, promotes the code and receives periodic income from the company based on a percentage of sales when the promotion code is used.

Discount card fundraisers are in a different category because they take more effort by both parents and students. There are two variations on how it can be managed. While both require a level of effort from volunteers on the PTA, one requires more effort than the other.  The more legwork the group puts into the program, the more profit the group can hope to receive.

What are Discount Cards?

A discount card is a plastic card that an individual can present to a participating business at the time of sale to receive a discounted price on their purchase. Who doesn’t like getting a discount? We present our loyalty cards at the grocery store to get the discounted price. But unlike store loyalty cards, discount cards can be used at a variety of participating retailers.

How can Discount Cards be used as Fundraisers?

A typical discount card is a plastic card that can fit in a wallet or card holder. It features the sponsoring organization on the front of the card, such as the school name and logo. The back of the card contains a list of participating businesses that have agreed to participate in the fundraiser. The businesses gain exposure and hope to draw in customers or gain new customers by participating in the program. The sponsoring organization makes money by selling the cards for a set price. Folks that purchase the cards can use them to receive discounts at the participating retailers.

How much can the PTA make?

It depends on two factors. The biggest factor is how much you charge for the discount card. Some groups charge as little as $5, while seasoned groups that product a card annually can charge up to $15 or $20 per card. The higher amount you can charge, the more potential profit the sponsoring organization can make.

The second factor is the cost of the fundraising cards printing.
  • If you go low tech, the school may be willing to make the copies and let you use the school’s laminating machine. In that case, the cost may be limited to supplies for paper and materials. To make a professional looking card, you can find or purchase a template online.
  • Another option is to use a local printer or ask a local printer to donate their services to create the cards for the school.
  • A third is to use a professional discount card company. These vendors require a minimum amount of cards, and some offer to help with design and layout of the card for an additional fee.

To figure out how much money your group can raise for your school, decide how many cards you will get printed and decide how much to charge for each card.  Multiple those 2 numbers together and subtract the cost to print the discount cards.

( # of cards to sell  X price per card )  -  cost to print the cards

How do I find businesses willing to participate?

If your school has good relationships with local business, the PTA may choose to create the cards on their own. You will need to solicit volunteers to contact local business, request participation, and collect the details on the discount information to be placed on the card. The PTA should also solicit the assistance of an attorney to draft a simple agreement between the organization and the business to include details such as the length of time the discount cards must be accepted by the business. If you have a volunteer with layout and design skills, you might include logos or artwork from the participating business or you can choose to keep it a simple text layout. If the organization does not have bandwidth to do this level of legwork, you can find vendors that will line up the participating business and print the professional discount card for the organization. This option increases the cost to host the fundraiser, but makes the fundraiser possible with less coordination.

How does the sponsoring organization sell the cards?

Some schools send home several cards per student with an envelope to return the payments and any unpurchased cards back to school. Veteran organizations that have experience with this type of fundraiser caution not to overestimate the amount of cards that can be sold per student. While discount card companies might encourage a school to purchase five cards for each student to sell; two per student might be a good starting point.

Asking PTA volunteers to sell the cards at a school or local event such as at Back to School night or at a school sporting event is another option with the potential to sell out quickly. Be sure to get permission from the event organizers.

If the school has a great relationship with a local business that caters to area families, the business may be willing to sell the any remaining cards at the counter and give the proceeds back to the school. 

Good luck with your fundraising efforts!

Has your school sponsored discount card fundraiser in the past? Let us know what worked and what didn’t work in the comments below. 

Photo credit: Home Water Softener Reviews

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