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Elementary School Principals View of Fundraising:
Do or Do Without

by the AFRDS

If This Were a Perfect World

Teachers would earn as much as professional athletes. All students would find themselves in state-of-the-art classrooms. Parents would rest in the knowledge that their child's every educational need is being met. And principals, well, principals would not know the meaning of "fundraising," let alone actually have to do it.

But it is not a perfect world and schools do need extra funding.

In fact, a survey conducted last spring by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) revealed that 91 percent of schools in America raise funds to supplement government funding.

And, while most principals said they would rather not have to fundraise, the vast majority (81%) believe fundraising results are worth it, according to the survey.

"Most principals view fundraising as a 'do-or-do-without' situation," said Vincent Ferrandino, executive director of NAESP. "In some cases, if they don't find the money themselves, their students go without computers, field trips, library books, and even pens and paper."Nearly 700 principals responded to the nationwide survey.

Product sales (81%), book fairs (88%) and box top collections (74%) are the most popular methods used - outpacing school portraits (53%), school carnivals (48%) and retail affiliation programs (34%) where schools earn rebates based on purchases made by their supporters. Twenty percent of schools report receiving vending machine royalties, while Internet retailers have agreements with approximately eight percent of schools, according to the NAESP survey

Other key findings from the NAESP survey:

81% of elementary school principals say the benefits of fundraising justify the time and effort; 76% of principals report an increased need to fundraise in the last 10 years; 65% of principals delegate fundraising responsibilities to the school's PTA/PTO; 47% estimate that 50-75% of families participate in school fundraising efforts; 28% say that 25-49% of families participate in fundraising; with approximately 16% reporting much higher levels of participation - over 75%.

Nearly 40 % of schools earn between $10,000 and $25,000 through fundraising each year. Twenty-nine percent say they earn between $5,000 and $10,000; while 23 percent earn less than $5,000. The remaining eight percent of schools earn $25,000 and up.

How do schools spend the money?

Most schools (58%) purchase classroom equipment and supplies with the money they raise on their own. Fifty-seven percent pay for field trips; 50 percent buy library books; and 45 percent purchase playground equipment with fundraising dollars.

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About the Author:

This article is from the Fall 2000 issue of the Fundraising Edge, an online publication of the Association of Fund Raisers and Direct Sellers and is reprinted with permission. Visit their web site at for more information and a look at the complete issues of the Fundraising Edge.

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