Are you a PTA, PTO, or student group at a Title I school and wondering how to fundraise? This is a common question that we spent some time discussing on a recent podcast episode. This blog summarizes our tips.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides financial assistance to schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. This financial support aims to ensure that all children can meet the state's academic standards. Due to the many low-income families, parent-teacher groups at Title I schools often hesitate to ask their families for fundraising dollars. Arguably, however, these are the school most in need of those fundraising dollars, so we wanted to share some ideas for fundraising that have worked at other Title I schools.
Don't Leave Out Your Title I School Community
This may be controversial, but I've seen it echoed several times. Just because you may have families in your school community that are low income does not mean that they don't set aside dollars for giving to their children's education. And so, you, as a PTA or PTO leader, shouldn't make assumptions about how people have chosen to allocate the income that they do have. Therefore, you should still ask. Make the ask, and share that you're fundraising. If people can give, they will. You don't have to put unnecessary pressure but give that option out there.
Rely More Heavily on the Broader Community
Many businesses in your local neighborhood - the broader school community - want to help. Here are the top ideas:
Grocery Store Partnerships. A grocery store partnership allows your school to get a percentage of sales from a local grocer. Many large chains have specific programs, or you can work directly with smaller stores.
Service Organization Partnerships. Attend a rotary club or other service organization to meet business leaders looking for ways to help the local community. Making those connections in your community can enhance giving back to your school.
A Community Cookout. Host a community cookout in a park, or if you can't have social gatherings in these times, a "pick up a plate" community event. Find someone from your school or neighborhood that is a great cook. That chef will cook up an evening or cook up some dishes that people can purchase, whether $10 for a plate of barbecue or $5 for some cake.
Offer Classes. A school is a place full of teachers. Those teachers have the skills to teach the community. You can ask the teachers, or even some parents in your school, to put on a class for the local community, whether it's a language class, a sewing class, or an art class; there are several different options. But putting on those classes, and advertising them to the local community, again, can drive funds back to the school.
Add an Online Element to Your Fundraising
Whether it is a passive fundraiser or an increased view of donations on your website, you can impact your program with an online presence. Starting up an online store, whether Etsy, Spiritwear/Uniforms/Apparel or Amazon, many options have a minimal upfront time investment and remain open 24/7/365. Finally, adding a donation button to your website or directing people to where they can make donations will allow any interested parties to donate at their convenience.
We know Title I fundraising can be challenging, especially over the last year, when a pandemic has impacted the economy. We want to enable all schools to fundraise and support the programming at their schools, so we hope some of these tips will be useful to you. They came from other PTA members in your shoes, and we wanted to share them with you. We would be happy to hear any ideas you'd like to share with us, so please do reach out. And good luck with your fundraising.