Basics 101: Leadership – It’s Essential for Your Fund Raiser!
Proper motivation is one of the key factors to a successful fundraising activity, and the head sponsor of that fundraising activity is similar to the coach of an athletic team. No matter how much individual talent is on his/her team, it is almost impossible for that team to have a winning season without the coach. Likewise, it is extremely difficult to have a successful fundraiser without at least one pro-active sponsor who is willing to lead by encouraging, admonishing, and if needed, confronting the participating sellers. In many fundraising groups, particularly elementary schools and athletic leagues (Little League, Pop Warner, Soccer Leagues, etc.) there are more than one sponsor, but it is important that there is always one very responsible person who heads up the fundraising activity.
In elementary school-wide fundraisers, it is very important that the principal takes his role as the leader of the fundraising activity, even if the PTA/PTO members or teachers actually wind up doing most of the leg work, as far as overall responsibility is concerned. If the principal does not get actively involved in the fundraiser, there is a silent message sent out that he/she doesn’t really care about the fundraising project’s success. When the principal gets actively involved, group cohesiveness is established, due to the weight that an authority figure carries via his/her position of leadership in the school.
There are many fundraising groups where there is only one sponsor representing that group. High school and junior high school clubs and groups, as well as individual sports teams, scout packs, church youth groups, etc., typically have only one major fundraising group sponsor. The degree of leadership that sponsor exhibits during the planning and execution of the fundraiser, largely determines the success of the fundraising project. Since there is, more often than not, no co-sponsor to help contribute leadership advice in these groups, a lethargic or passive attitude by the sponsor can greatly diminish the overall group fundraising sales, whether the products are fundraising cookie dough, candy fundraisers, fundraising beef jerky, flower bulb fundraisers, or any other type of fundraiser.
To show how crucial the type of sponsor leadership is in a group fundraising setting, you could take a group of 30 sellers and put them under a particular sponsor, and have a cookie dough fundraising sale which profits the group $700.00. You could take that very same group of 30 sellers and put them with a different, but highly motivated sponsor, and see a profit of several thousand dollars. The sellers are the same in both instances, but the difference between the sponsors has made a huge difference in fundraising sales. On numerous occasions, fundraising distributors will furnish order-taker brochures, and when the time has come for the sponsor to turn in his/her group’s orders, the sponsor will say something like, “I let them sell what they wanted to sell”, or “The kids didn’t seem real interested, and so I just let the ones who wanted to sell do the selling”. In both of these two statements, we can immediately surmise that the sponsor had no desire to help supervise the group’s fundraising activity. He/she simply gave out some fundraising product brochures to the sellers, and then basically said, “Whatever”. Fundraising should be enjoyable, but for a group to be effective in its fundraising efforts, the sponsor has to be willing to put forth the time and effort to encourage and motivate the sellers. Sponsors can help make a fundraising project exciting and extremely profitable, or they can project an atmosphere of lethargy and lack of motivation. The sellers quickly pick up on the enthusiasm, or lack of enthusiasm being shown by their sponsor. To coin an old expression, “Anything worth doing is worth doing right”, applies to fundraising projects, as well as all other aspects of life. If a fundraising activity is needed, don’t hold back – Go for it. It might be surprising how successful it can be.