We received many, many comments from the principals who took the NAESP fundraising survey. Some principals felt that schools should not be in the business of fundraising, others thought it was good for school spirit but worried about having to rely so much on the revenue for basic items. Principals are also looking at more creative ways to fundraise in their school. We asked a few principals about this and here’s what they had to say:

At Steve Poling’s Arizona school, the PTO held a Read-A-Thon to encourage children to read while raising money, rather than just sell catalogue merchandise. Poling says they raised just as much through the Read-A-Thon as they would normally raise selling “catalogue stuff that nobody wants anyway.”  Another treat was that the PTO president filmed a hilarious video to promote the Read-A-Thon and to show students in their kick-off assemblies. You can access it at  http://www.maranausd.org/DG/Parents/readathon.html.

Missouri’s Teresa Tulipana doesn’t believe principals should provide fundraising incentives that encourage students to disrespect the office of the principal. “Relationships with students are important and it’s important to be fun and approachable, but I believe some of these activities border on disrespect,” says Tulipana. “We must do everything we can to raise the level of respect for our profession....so, rather than a pie in the face, invite small groups to your office for ‘Pie with the Principal.’ Instead of the dunk tank, coordinate a school-wide basketball contest to see who can dunk the ball. Be creative—establish incentive programs (and fundraisers) that build relationships, build trust, build respect, and promote the academic goals of the school.”

Oklahoma’s Jan Borelli thinks principals should give more attention to grants, rather than focus solely on fundraising. “Every year there are thousands of dollars that don’t get used because no one applies," says Borelli. “I think that we should start considering the time and effort we put in on selling traditional ‘stuff’ and use that time more effectively by applying for grant opportunities.  Google ‘educational grant opportunities’ and get started.  My school has received a total of $15,000 from Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, Laura Bush Library Grants, and the Dollar General Store.”

What are some creative approaches that you have tried with fundraising?  Let us know here at the Principals’ Office.