Gift wrapping paper, frozen cookie dough, catalog magazine sales. The list of school fundraising efforts sometimes seems endless. If you are a parent, not only are you expected to purchase things you often don’t want, you also need to take your kid door to door.
But Stacey Boyd, a former teacher, school principal and founder of Schoola, says she has the modern solution to school fundraising: Use the Internet to raise the funds.
Schoola is a Groupon-style platform that connects parents, teachers and community members with local businesses and big brands. It has been designed for schools to raise money off daily deals (with a good portion going back to the school).
“You're able to electronically get an incredible amount of momentum and spread the word out to your community in a very exciting way,” said Boyd, whose San Francisco company is privately funded.
One of the hardest things about fundraisers is that parents are often asked to buy things they don't necessarily want or use. But with Schoola, "these are places and institutions that parents already shop and already love," Boyd said.
It’s a win-win: Businesses get a new cause-based platform to drive sales, and schools get a smart and easy funding solution.
Here is how it works:
Schoola enables local school groups to create their own online fundraisers. Parents then approach local businesses and merchants, offering a deal through the Schoola platform.
Similar to Groupon, Schoola offers deals and promotions through a local business or big brand, such as $30 worth of goods at a bakery for $20, or $54 for $60 worth of dance lessons. Unlike Groupon, which has salespeople, Schoola is a self-serving platform, and parents are their own deal-brokers.
Parents negotiate the deal price with the vendor and collaborate on the promotional copy. If the business accepts, it can determine what percentage of each deal sold will go back to the school. Depending on the size and type of the vendor, businesses on average usually give back about 30% to the schools, with the lowest amount 15% and the highest amount 85%.
Schoola then hosts and facilitates the fundraiser online (taking 15% of the money raised), giving supporters the tools to share the effort with parents and the community. Information about the fundraising effort is shared through the school’s mailing lists, notes and social media. Schoola also handles the purchases and fulfillment, sending checks to merchants and schools.
Given recent budget cuts, schools are often relying even more on donated funds raised through parenting groups to save academic programs and provide for extracurricular activities. Schoola aims to help simplify that fundraising process and streamline traditional homemade and hands-on ways of raising money for schools.
Though Boyd did not disclose how much money users have raised so far, she said a Schoola fundraiser typically yields $1,000 to $5,000. Since Schoola's launch in October, more than 12,000 schools nationwide have created fundraising pages on its platform.
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