By GreatSchools Staff
Classic school fundraisers can be a mixed bag. Car washes. Bake sales. Or candy sales, in which masses of school kids hit the streets bearing neat white cases of World’s Finest Chocolate. The magazine game may see supportive parents buying up years' worth of Cat Fancy in the name of school spirit. In the end, while classic fundraisers can be effective, sometimes the effort required to get them off the ground can feel excessive; the rewards, a lot less so.
As school budgets are stretched to the limit, many parents would no doubt welcome new ways to approach their schools' seemingly ceaseless funding gaps. We looked for a few low-effort, high-impact funding options, including sizable corporate grants. This being 2010, we found a number of creative online sources, including a few up-from-the-bootstraps, do-it-yourself websites that let schools set their own terms for the money they raise.
For parents in search of fundraising strategies that won't exhaust the PTO, check out these five ideas for bringing dollars to your school.
Social-media savvy isn't usually the first thing we associate with school fundraisers. Still, an increasing number of "vote for your school"-style contests are shelling out big bucks to schools. How big? This month department store Kohl's launched Kohl's Cares for Kids, a Facebook contest that's giving away $500,000 grants to a total of 20 schools. By visiting the Kohl's Facebook page and signing up between July 7 and September 3, you can vote for your child's school and answer the question "What would your school do with half a million dollars?" Whatever voters decide, a few schools will walk away with an enviable windfall.
Pros: All it takes is a few clicks to give your child's school the chance for a major boost to its bottom line. Even if it doesn't work, it may help build your school's high-tech community.
Cons: This one's decidedly a long shot.
Many companies offer considerable sums of money to schools that know how to tap into it. In addition to its store credit cards, which can be set up to direct a small percentage of everyday purchases to local schools, Target offers substantial grants, which support local field trips, early childhood reading programs, and the arts. The company also funds library renovations for schools in need.
According to Target's website, last year's field trip grant winners ranged widely in geography and kind, from Iowa's rural Oskaloosa Elementary School to the Weizmann Day School in Pasadena, Calif. The reading grants encourage reading outside of school by supporting "after-school reading" and "weekend book clubs." Grant writers should know that the application period for the coming year begins August 1, 2010, for field trips and March 1, 2011, for early childhood reading and arts grants.
Pros: Grants can breathe new life into underfunded school programs.
Cons: Some funds come with strings attached (Target's libraries include discreet advertising).
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