A Fundraising Tip from the Backstreet Boys

Table of Contents

The Challenge

It’s that time of year again — the time when spring fundraisers pop up like dandelions across the Christian School landscape. 

Of course, most school leaders don’t see their fundraiser as a dandelion. They think it’s a daffodil or a tulip. It’s beautiful. It’s an opportunity to invite parents, grandparents, alumni, and members of your community to invest in your school. 

 But for many people, the spring fundraiser is more of a weed than a flower.

 There may be a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which could be…

You’ve held so many fundraisers this year that your constituents already have “giving fatigue.”
Parents think the tuition they’re paying is already greater than the value they’re receiving.
Economic uncertainty is leading to a generosity drought. 

But the biggest reason for low fundraiser enthusiasm in most Christian schools is much simpler. 

Addressing this one issue could singlehandedly engage new donors, re-engage past donors, and cause deep-pocketed givers to dig out their checkbooks and become even more generous. 

The Solution

The Backstreet Boys snuck this foundational fundraising tip into a song released way back in 1999 when they penned the advice…

“Tell me why…” 

If fundraising enthusiasm is low and donations are hitting your goal, this may be what your constituents need — a simple answer to the question, “Why?”

“Why is the school doing another fundraiser?” 

“Why do they need money above the tuition we’re already paying?”

“Why can’t they balance their budget like our family and other businesses do?” 

(That last one is a question that deserves far more attention than we can offer here.) 

Like many communication issues, the core problem is probably that leadership knows why and assumes everyone else does, too. But I’ve heard Heads of School express reluctance to share the “why” because it isn’t “exciting.” 

“It’s just a gap campaign. People don’t get hyped up about helping us keep the lights on.”

And that’s true. 

“We can’t pay the bills” doesn’t generate the same enthusiasm as “we’re building a state-of-the-art theater.”

But “give money” without any stated reason is even less effective. 

The Opportunity

Pause to consider what a successful fundraiser would mean for your school community. Would it allow you to…

  • …offer more financial aid, so more families can afford to attend?
  • …pay teachers better, so you can attract and retain talent?
  • …save for the future, so you are ready for growth?
  • …refresh existing facilities, so students can feel proud of their school?
  • …invest in marketing, so you can serve more kids and offer more programs?

Cast a vision for donors. Repeat the vision over and over until everyone knows why they should go above and beyond. 

Then watch as joyful givers line up to be part of your mission. 

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