The Pros and Cons of a Product Fundraiser

If your students have sold wrapping paper, chocolate bars or magazines, then you’ve tried a product fundraiser. While the process is relatively easy, and expensive prizes likely provide motivation for students to sell more, there are still some important negatives to consider as well.

Whether you want to pay for a new fleet of desks or a few iPads for students to share, consider the pros and cons of a product fundraiser.

Pro: They seem easy to organize. Simply order the products and give them to the kids.

Con: People don’t always want to buy obscure products, and thus choosing something to sell based on seasonality is critical. For example, cookie dough is perfect for the holidays and a packet of seeds is great for spring. Unfortunately, your funding needs don’t revolve around the seasons, making a product fundraiser difficult to plan and organize. In most cases, you can’t return the products that are not sold, either.

Pro: Using seasonality to choose products, for example, selling wrapping paper in December, may yield a large amount of money raised.

Con: You’re selling a product that is overpriced—because the fundraising company is taking a massive cut, you will sell the product at a significant mark-up.

Pro: It’s likely a method that you, your students and the parents are familiar with. After one successful product fundraiser, it may be easier to convince the PTO board to give you the green light on another.

Con: You often walk away with only half of the funds you raised, if not less. Your students knocked on doors, called grandparents, and solicited aunts and uncles to get that money, yet your school is only able to keep a small percentage of it.

Pro: Expensive prizes, that the school could not afford otherwise, help motivate students to raise more money.

Con: The longer your product fundraiser lasts, the more money you make. However, most people don’t have time to sell t-shirts or seeds week after week. In contrast, ReadaFun’s Read-A-Thon fundraiser allowed Sabal Point Elementary School to raise more than $23,000 in 17 days without selling a single item!