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Fundraising can be a difficult undertaking for many first-time or inexperienced fundraisers. When you consider that fundraising is essentially akin to starting your own small business, albeit temporary, you start to realize why many fundraisers don’t meet their goals.

Bloomberg studied the success rate of new businesses and found that 8 out 10 of businesses would close their doors within the first 18 months. A grim figure indeed, but this is where fundraising differs slightly from most businesses. The overall success rate of fundraisers would be much closer to 50%. Although the number is significantly higher, it’s still discouraging to know that roughly half of all fundraisers don’t manage to reach their goals.

It begs the question: Why do fundraisers fail?

Jolian Grant, Owner of, and long-time school fundraising consultant says “There are 4 key areas of fundraising that are essential to the success of school fundraisers: organization, leadership, motivation and the sales pitch.”


Organization is the glue that holds the fundraiser together. This essential step should be done before the fundraiser starts and includes:

  • Setting a fundraising goal (Consulting with PTA/PTO and school administration)

  • Selecting fundraising product (Consulting with PTA/PTO and school administration)

  • Selecting a treasurer

  • Breaking volunteers down into manageable groups

  • Appointing group leaders

  • Setting dates & milestones/intermittent goals for the fundraiser


Fundraising leaders who don’t spend time on this step greatly increase the chances their fundraiser doesn’t reach its final goal.

Establishing strong leadership throughout the fundraising process is key element to keep volunteers organized and on task. Depending on the size of the group there might be a need to appoint several leaders to help motivate volunteers and feed information to the fundraising organizer.

One of the biggest mistakes fundraising leaders make is putting themselves or others in charge of too many people. It quickly becomes too hard for leaders to manage and do regular follow-ups with 15+ individuals. This is when volunteers can start falling through the cracks and start missing their goals and milestones.


If there is one aspect that could be called the ‘silent killer’ of fundraisers it would be motivation. Depending on how long the fundraising cycle is motivation could become a huge factor in your fundraiser’s success.

While it’s essential to have a global fundraising goal, it can act as a double-edged sword when it comes to motivating volunteers. When there are many people involved in a fundraiser the goal can seem daunting to an individual. It’s important to breakdown your fundraising goals to group and individual levels so they can achieve a higher personal sense of accomplishment with every sale they make.

Incentives can also be very motivating, especially for children. A gift card, a toy or a trophy can ignite the competitive spirit in volunteers and motivate them to push harder.

It’s also good to setup regular ‘pump up’ meetings with group leaders for fundraisers that last several months. They are good opportunity to spread encouragement and share successes.

Sales Pitch

The sales pitch is the cherry on the cake of your school fundraiser. A lot of fundraiser organizers forget to arm their fundraising volunteers with a compelling sales pitch. Crafting the perfect pitch takes time and effort but it is definitely worth it.

The sales pitch should include the purpose of the fundraiser, the value and utility of the product you are fundraising with and also the style in which the pitch should be delivered. A pleasant and convincing pitch will go a long way to achieving your fundraising goals.