Crowdfunding Fundamentals from School Bake Sales

Khaled Allen
Khaled Allen

bakesale crowdfunding fundamentals

Nonprofit crowdfunding is a relatively new term, but it’s been around as long as school bake sales and community carwashes. Most of us have tried these accessible forms of fundraising, so we can learn a lot about crowdfunding fundamentals.

Sadly, these classic fundraisers are going out of style. Even schools are now benefiting from current crowdfunding techniques.

But the crowdfunding fundamentals are still there. Here are 4 basic techniques that work learned from school fundraisers.

Give Volunteers Ownership

Fundraising isn’t a piece of cake, and one crowdfunding fundamental is to use volunteers to do much of the heavy lifting. As we learned from high school bake sales, volunteers can be more trouble than they’re worth if you’re not careful.

One way to get the most out of your volunteers in fundraising is to let them take ownership of their jobs.

In bake sales, this meant handing out a sign-up sheet with different jobs that needed to get done and letting people choose which items to bake and bring to the sale. This way they can work to their strengths, making them more likely to contribute good work.

Allow your volunteers to pick their own roles.

Because they chose it, they will feel more ownership about it and do a better job. This enlists the psychological principle that people are more likely to defend something they chose, compared to the same job assigned to them.

Provide Clear Instructions

Nothing is more disappointing than getting someone to sign up to bake cookies and them showing up with just a small batch on the day of the event.

It was always a better idea to specify exactly how many cookies needed to be brought, how they should be packaged, where they needed to be dropped off, and even what ingredients were OK (no nuts please).

Another crowdfunding fundamental is to make sure your volunteers and donors have clear and simple instructions so they know exactly what’s expected of them.

  • The more planning you can do for volunteers, the better. Provide them with the flyers, tell them where to distribute, and how many to put up.
  • Make sure it it is clear how donors can get involved and where they can donate.

When Bayshore Ministries used CauseVox for their online fundraising, they provided their volunteers with a publishing calendar to use for their blogs and social media shares. This made it extremely easy for the volunteers to do their jobs well and reach a wide audience. By observing this crowdfunding fundamental, Bayshore was able to reach its fundraising goal quickly.

Enlist the Community

Everyone in town likes to chip in to help the local high schoolers. Hardware stores donate tools for park cleanups or sponges for carwashes. Businesses often donate space for bake sales. Local newspapers and radio stations set aside PR slots for local community events, free of charge.

Another crowdfunding fundamental is to make sure to take advantage of these resources if your event is community-based. You can even offer promotional opportunities for businesses that provide resources. Make sure to ask local radio stations and newspapers if you can announce your event.

Piggy-back on Other Events

Where I live in Boulder, the best time to do a community fundraiser is Saturday during the farmer’s market. People are out in droves, meandering, and open to being approached.

Perhaps the most basic crowdfunding fundamental is to look be around big crowds.

If you are using an event for the majority of your fundraising, or just want to spread the word, check your local community events calendar. Local newspapers often keep online registries, but you can also check with your town hall.

If the event you’d like to utilize is being run by a business, you can offer to give them some of your proceeds, but be careful with this tactic, especially since you probably aren’t making huge margins.

Remind People

When I was organizing my Eagle Scout project, the biggest difficulty was not in getting people to sign up, but getting them to show up. After a few low turnouts, I realized I needed to provide constant reminders.

That’s fairly easy with an automated system: just schedule automatic reminder emails through Mailchimp or using a free app like Boomerang for Gmail. This crowdfunding fundamental can be harder when relying on the phone to keep people in touch, so consider making a reminder schedule.

Keep in mind that people might forget or become distracted by their busy lives. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to help. A gentle nudge in the right direction is usually all they need.

Sometimes, we can forget the crowdfunding fundamentals. It pays to go back to what we learned from school fundraisers. Make sure to review these strategies to make sure all you’re bases are covered.

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