Support from the Top (of the school)

Originally published in the fall 2010 issue of The Fundraising Edge

A deal's a deal. So when students at an elementary school in Jacksonville, FL met their fundraising goal by selling more than $20,000 worth of cookie dough last spring, Principal Lacy Healy and Assistant Principal Jennifer Collins knew what they had to do. The administrators had made a deal with their students that if the fundraiser goal was met, both would spend a full 24 hours on the school's roof.

"We had to think of something really big, so being on the roof was the biggest thing we could think of," Ms. Healy said. Fortunately the good-natured administrators had sunscreen, water and a tent to help them cope with the Florida heat. "We like to have a lot of fun with our kids because we can be kids ourselves," Ms. Healy said.

The principal's support is critical when it comes to school fundraising. Today, many principals would rather delegate fundraising responsibility to someone else – often the school's parent/teacher organization. However, experts say this hands-off approach can hamper a fundraiser's success. Whether it's helping to develop appropriate goals, signing letters and emails encouraging parents to support, or agreeing to spend a day on the roof as an incentive to students, the principal's support can make or break a fundraiser.

Here are a few other crazy stunts from principals reported over the years:

  • Elementary school students in Clifton, CO, enjoyed watching their principal kiss a pig – a promise made to the students if they reached their fundraising goal. The smooch even made it onto the evening news when a camera crew from a local TV station stopped by to record the action.
  • After a successful fundraising drive at one Southern California middle school, the principal and top-selling student traded places for one day.
  • In a central Florida elementary school, the principal donned an outfit made of wrapping paper held together with gift bows, coincidentally the same products featured in an upcoming fundraiser.