Back-to-school season is upon us yet again, as is the rush of excitement and change that comes along with it. Approximately 77.2 million students - both children and adults - are expected to return to classes (from nursery school all the way through college) between the months of August and September. According to one study, Americans are expected to spend a combined $27 billion during this period on shopping alone, with much of that money going towards necessities like clothing, school supplies and tech purchases like tablets and new computers.
All of these numbers are terrific if you're the manager of a department store looking to move this season's hottest clothes and accessories as quickly as possible - but what does it mean if you're the head of a non-profit looking to up your fundraising game in terms of this same audience? The back-to-school rush will absolutely affect your fundraising efforts, but whether this is a good or a bad thing ultimately comes down to a few key things you'll want to keep in mind.
The Myth That "People Don't Give Money During Back-to-School Season"
Yes, it's true that 12% of all donations to non-profits happen during the last three days of the year. It is equally true that about 31% of the remaining total happens at some point during the holiday season of December. But the idea that people just don't want to give money to ANYTHING during back-to-school season is and will always be a myth.
Remember that despite the above statistics, about 36% of non-profits raise less than 10% of their annual funds from this year-end period. Back-to-school season plays a big role in this. People are excited for a massive change in their lives and they're likely looking for ways to get to know their new environments, make new friends and more. You can use these facts to your advantage, getting out there on college campuses and looking for volunteers to help spread the word about your organization.
Remember that volunteers are literally twice as likely to donate to non-profits than non-volunteers. Volunteering is also an excellent way to meet a lot of people if you're a college freshman spending your first few weeks away from home. Running programs that operate in and around campuses that also make use of volunteers is a great way to further your efforts in a way people are naturally receptive to during this time.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
People are definitely willing to give to a fundraising campaign during back-to-school season, but because the attention of both students and parents are so fractured during this time you need to go out of your way to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. If you're not already leveraging the power of modern technology to your advantage, now would be an excellent time to start.
Examples of this include mobile fundraising - something that has grown in popularity in recent years. Options like "text-to-give" campaigns, mobile giving apps, QR code promotions and more both allow your fundraising efforts to stay in the public consciousness AND make it easy for people to give on their own terms. Even mobile-responsible online donation pages go a long way towards this goal.
Remember that a lot of other non-profits are going to be campaigning during this time, too. If a student is on their way to class and they encounter two equally viable causes, but one requires them to stop and fill out a form to donate and the other lets them send a quick text message AND make it to their lesson on time, you can already guess which one they're going to go with.
Fundraising during back-to-school season will certainly represent a challenge, yes - but as the old saying goes, "anything worth doing is worth doing right." By understanding exactly what circumstances you're up against and by making strategic decisions that help take these factors into consideration, you'll find that the back-to-school rush can be a very lucrative one, indeed.