November 12, 2009
Bake sale economics
How parents, booster groups and cupcakes are trying to fill the funding gap
By Heidi Masek email@example.com
When operating budgets get tight for school districts, arts and sports often suffer cuts first. Middle and high schools in the region are seeing impacts in those programs and others this year. Some elementary schools are reporting their field trips have been cut. Few schools believe their paper supplies will last through June.
Some parent-teacher groups and booster clubs are starting to feel pressure to fill in gaps. Faced with declining revenues from traditional fundraisers, and anticipating a need to provide more for students as both schools and families struggle with shrinking budgets, some of these volunteer organizations are starting to seek innovative ways to raise money.
“Everybody is fighting for the same dollar,” Tim Brockway said, summarizing the problem. He’s president of the Parent Teacher Group at Gossler Park Elementary School in Manchester. Their principal reported a 30-percent decrease in the school’s September holiday wrapping paper catalog sale fundraiser, Brockway said. Volunteers and parents are feeling more stress. Students there started a penny drive to buy playground equipment for the school (like balls and jump ropes).
There are just so many programs in tight times trying to raise money for their cause, said Tim Brown, president of Manchester Central High School Booster Parents Club. Central Boosters had more funding requests from fall sports teams this year than any other (the teams all also do their own fundraisers), and the Boosters have been advised that spring teams may not get equipment funds and “transportation to and from games will be an issue,” Brown wrote in an e-mail. They were told the spring concern is due to the decision to save hockey and wrestling programs this year — money will come from spring sports, “so it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Brown wrote.
The Manchester Memorial High School Booster Club gave $20,000 to help school sports teams last year, up from about $14,000 the previous school year, Club president Marc Richer said. As city budget constraints have impacted sports teams, teams look to the Booster Club to pick up some of the slack, Richer said.
“I think we’re definitely feeling the pressure,” Debbie Bradfield of New Searles Elementary School PTO in Nashua said.
“I think what you see across the board in all school districts is, as the economy has floundered and public schools have funding reduced, the first thing to go is arts and music,” said Jenniffer McConnell at Webster Elementary in Manchester.
At McDonough School in Manchester, the principal asked the PTA to hold on to the $7,000 it usually provides toward field trip transportation. That’s because the school didn’t have the usual matching contribution in its budget this year, so it is canceling field trips. At Dr. Crisp School in Nashua, a PTO that’s struggling to rebuild wants to raise funds to bring back assemblies (educational or cultural presentations) the school can’t afford to book this year. At Webster the girls basketball is wearing the boys’ team’s old uniforms.
At Manchester Central and West high schools and other schools, there are reports of music programs that can’t buy new sheet music. One senior reported chaos in September at Central when students arrived to find classes they had signed up for had been cut.
“Our teachers don’t even have paper,” said Tracy Bachert, PTO president at McLaughlin Middle in Manchester. Students are being requested to bring it in, she said.
“They actually forbid us from printing,” said Nashua High School North senior David Stewart. In most classes or the school library, students need to save documents to a flash drive or e-mail them home, which affects productivity, he said.
Memorial principal Arthur Adamakos said a lot of advisers are going without stipends this year. As of Nov. 5 Memorial did not have program cuts, but decisions will be made in the springtime (not by him) on what to do if money runs out. However, there’s no indication that any organization will supplant what the district should be paying for, he said. The prevailing thought is “we supplement programs, we don’t supplant their funding” through fundraisers, Adamakos said.
The original mission
The POPS music support group of Memorial said that according to its bylaws, the group raises money for scholarships. This year funds were cut so much it is picking up fundraisers to cover current needs, like new gowns for girls in the chorus to wear in concert performances. The school also doesn’t have money set aside to pay an accompanist for chorus concerts this year. Over the summer, they were concerned about whether the marching band would be cut completely.
Some of their main fundraisers have included selling concessions and running a bake sale during the All State auditions, held at Memorial, bake sales at concerts, and similar things, said Lori White. But this year they are adding others to help pick up the slack, including Macy’s Shop-for-a-Cause, and selling Fratello’s gift certificates. “We try to find things that are low in cost and easy to sell,” White said.
The Memorial Booster Club supports all student groups rather than just sports. It covered transportation for a hearing-impaired class to attend a Jeopardy!-style event for the hearing impaired in New York. It has given money for the cheerleading squad to hire a choreographer for national championships and has donated to POPS.
Usually, Concord’s Broken Ground school PTO covers $8,000 for field trips for busing, and about half of the cost of sending students to plays. “Once money allocated to our district for busing is exhausted, then bills come our way,” co-president Marci Howe said. Broken Ground recently finished a tough campaign to raise money for playground equipment, which was set to be installed the weekend of Nov. 6, one reason it’s hard for them to put any more fundraising pressure on families.
Gossler Park only occasionally subsidized buses for school field trips, but takes full responsibility for an annual end-of-year fifth-grade outing, including tickets to a Fischer Cats game, a meal and bus transport.
Broad Street Elementary in Nashua has been fortunate that they maintain their mission of bringing cultural enrichment to the school, mainly by providing assemblies about once per month, which will cost them about $8,000 this year, said PTO president Lori Gilcreast.
Raising money isn’t all these parent groups do. Particularly at the elementary-school level, they run programs that are school community-builders. They may be a wash financially or raise only a little. However, things like fall festivals, pizza nights or ice cream socials can provide a low-cost way for a family with young kids to get out of the house and have fun.
Broken Ground is committed to sending students to school shows at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, which has actually dropped the number of school shows it offers from 16 to 11 this year. Cap Center officials did that calculating school budgets like everything else would be affected this year, said executive director Nicolette Clarke.
Clarke said another economic indicator of what school cuts mean to outside arts companies is that the Capitol Center had actually booked 12 shows initially, but an entire tour was pulled.The Capitol Center’s education director was laid off in February when grants didn’t come through. In August, the nonprofit had to reduce the number of workshops and curriculum materials created for school shows which they previously provided. The good news is they hope to expand these again now that a Hearst Foundation grant they applied for two years ago came through.
When it comes to fundraising, some schools do well with traditional “catalog sales” of magazine subscriptions, wrapping paper or the like. But these fundraisers can strain the parents, who end up selling too.
Others have tailored fundraising to their demographics,finding ways for families to donate by buying things they would already, and not at an inflated price.
At New Searles, the PTO has tried to make its fundraisers more “functional” for parents, Debbie Bradfield, PTO fundraising chair, said. For instance, they can sell BJ’s Wholesale Club membership cards for a discount and get a kickback from BJ’s.
Not only the school budget is in a pinch; parent budgets are, too, Bradfield said. The New Searles PTO traditionally contributed for things like field trips and enrichment. Now, they are starting to pick up the slack for classroom needs as more families can’t. If parents can’t cover the cost of Weekly Reader subscriptions for students, teachers petition the PTO to help out.
Central Boosters are planning a spring fundraising event such as a comedy night, concert, or wine tasting where people can be seen and have a night out that might get more bang for the buck, Brown said. Central Boosters used to run a calendar raffle, but businesses can’t give as much these days, Brown said. It’s a sentiment some others echoed. Some said it’s become harder to sell ads in programs for school events, another traditional fundraiser.
McLaughlin Middle’s main fundraiser didn’t do well this year. They are branching out to things like restaurant fundraisers, where a restaurant donates a percentage to the PTO on a specific night. So far, McLaughlin needs laminate for the laminator the PTO bought the school, plus water bottles and items for the nurse’s office — they haven’t received their teacher grant request list yet. The band doesn’t have new music. The PTO is holding a Yankee Candle catalog sale to raise money for school T-shirts band members are required to wear at any event besides a concert. Out-of-town travel was cut for one of McLaughlin’s two basketball teams, and parents aren’t allowed to transport teams to out-of-city games. The PTO has been picking up the cost to buy banners for the gym when the team wins.
McLaughlin is trying to increase A+ Bonus Bucks from Stop & Shop use and Box Tops for Education. Those are popular at elementary schools, but the middle school didn’t push them until the past couple of years. The PTO can raise up to $1,500 through Box Tops and up to $3,000 through Stop & Shop, she said.
Don’t think that teachers are making requests without putting in the time. Besides the fact that everyone knows teachers pay for a lot of their own classroom items, these are parent teacher organizations.
At Birch Hill in Nashua, teachers serve pancakes to students at an Applebee’s pancake breakfast fundraiser.
Howe said Broken Ground’s PTO normally gives each teacher a $100 check in August for classroom supplies (a practice some other PTOs have). However, this year a few teacher representatives said they would rather the PTO reallocate that money to field trip busing to keep costs down for families. The PTO knows some teachers don’t make much, and made it clear they would revisit the decision.
Selling to each other
People can only give to so many causes, Brown said. If a student goes to his aunt and uncle selling something as a fundraiser for a fall sport, and then the student plays a spring sport ... well, it gets old after a while, Brown said.
At Broken Ground, which houses only third through fifth grades, students may have siblings at sister schools, so parents can feel inundated with fundraisers, Howe said.
Nashua North Booster Club members spoke of growing collections of discount cards they end up buying as parents. For instance, as a fundraiser for the football team, players sell cards for about $20 that entitle the card-holder to discounts arranged with various businesses.
Stewart said the joint Nashua North and South high schools’ FIRST robotics team, which has about 50 members and a $25,000 operating budget, is finding it difficult to raise money to get to competitions. Their traditional calendar raffles have become a tough sell because people can’t fork over $10 or $20, he said.
The team lost one of their fundraisers this year — hosting a FIRST Lego League competition. Now they plan to try selling gift cards to stores where people shop anyway — the team receives a percentage of the profit. In years previous, BAE and its predecessors footed much of the team’s bill, and it still does to an extent,but now it is spreading its FIRST money among more teams, Stewart said.
Using what you’ve got
When it comes to little kids, some fundraisers that are easier sells involve the kids’ artwork. Birch Hill partnered with a paint-your-own-pottery shop. A percentage of sales to kids and families on a certain day goes to the PTO.
Dr. Crisp’s cookbooks will feature kids’ drawings of featured food and sell for $5 each. PTO member Sharon Richards explained that groups can sell them all year at any event, and can print them on demand. Dr. Crisp isn’t the kind of school where parents will spend $12 on gift wrap if they can get a similar item at the dollar store, so fundraisers have to stay low-cost, PTO president Jennifer Reno said.
New Searles has found a winner with a company that prints student artwork on products. Art teachers work with students, and families can order items like mugs with their child’s design. It doesn’t make lots of money, but parents and kids love it, Debbie Bradfield, PTO fundraising chair said. Mt. Pleasant’s sale of notecards with student artwork also isn’t a big money-maker, but parents enjoy it and kids are proud, Sandy Silva, PTO president, said.
Dr. Crisp recently held a “meat bingo” at the American Legion in Nashua. It provided an afternoon away from the kids, Reno said. Players win meat instead of cash.
Dr. Crisp hasn’t had a PTO for a few years and is starting with a zero budget. They wanted to raise enough to buy teachers boxes of paper, but didn’t, Reno said.
Ron Jackson, president of the Nashua North Boosters, wouldn’t mind if schools asked students to bring paper or if parents were asked to print their own handouts to bring to a meeting, for example (which would require the school posting said handout online ahead of time).
At Dr. Crisp, however, families have enough stress without worrying about a ream of paper for class, Reno said. Teachers have about two boxes for the year, she thinks. There isn’t money in the budget to buy workbooks for every student, so a lot of paper is used photocopying worksheets, she said.
Mt. Pleasant hit upon a simple solution some families like to take advantage of. They send an opt-out letter explaining what PTO money goes to and asking families who want to support the PTO without participating in that particular fundraiser to consider just sending a tax-deductible donation instead. It’s less work for the families, and the PTO gets the whole donation, while it might get about half from catalog sales.
New Searles is trying to team up with Mother and Child Consignment. For this idea, families could donate clothes to the PTO, which would then bring them to the Nashua store. The PTO would get the consignment income as a donation. Mother and Child donates what doesn’t sell, so the project would also help the larger community, Bradfield said. It’s something that doesn’t require families to give money, and it can be run all year long.
This spring, Mt. Pleasant will run a fundraiser that’s new for them, but they’ve heard it’s successful at other schools, Silva said. Teachers provide a list of materials they’d like students to have for the following school year. A company puts together “school tool box kits” from the lists which parents can order. This company claims prices are on par with big box stores, Silva said. This can save the parents the hassle of hunting down school supplies in the fall, and raises some money for PTO efforts.
Michael Apfelberg of Educational Outfitters of Nashua helps schools and church groups run “spirit wear” fundraisers. Educational Outfitters sells garments embroidered with the school names and logos to the fundraising group, which can then mark the stuff up to raise money. He’s also involved in the Nashua North Boosters as a parent and supplier.
“There’s a lot of different types of fundraising,” Apfelberg said. Most involve selling something like Yankee candles or magazine subscriptions, but “what we found is branded logo spirit wear is ... much more likely to sell itself,” Apfelberg said. True, success can depend on whether there’s much school spirit. “Spirit wear” can be a tough sell in middle school or if a high school is having a bad sports season, but it’s popular with elementary schools, Apfelberg said.
Laura Telerski of Bicentenial School’s PTO said they’ve recently started a teacher wishlist. Unfortunately, the PTO doesn’t have the money to help pick up classroom costs for 40 teachers, Telerski said. They came up with an idea like Freecycle (freecycle.org), she said. Teacher wish lists are included in newsletters and online, and parents can contact a teacher to see if that teacher can accept a “gently used or new” item.
Telerski said instead of asking parents to “donate, donate, donate,” they’ve realized a good way to make a few extra dollars is through family fun nights with things like ice skating at Conway Arena. “I think people are looking for easy and affordable” ways to entertain the family, she said. Also, you have to keep showing families what the money does for the school, she said.
Helping high schools
When it comes to the high school level, stuff ain’t cheap.
And those teens may think they are independent, but there are often crews of hard-working parent volunteers in the background working on fundraising and providing free labor to support high school programs.
Memorial Boosters gave more than $32,000 back to students throughout last year, Richer said. They have four main fundraisers: a craft fair, concession sales at football games, the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament and a “big money” raffle.
Colin Upham of the Memorial Boosters Club is in charge of the concession stand fundraiser. It brings in about $1,200 to $1,300 per week in good weather, and they have about five home games per year. Normally, they also run a 50/50 raffle during games.
The boosters are responsible for running, outfitting and stocking this concession stand, so equipment repairs are another cost. The health department inspects it before the season and usually once unannounced during games.
The Queen City Basketball Tournament requires police details, trainers, referees and game officials, scorekeepers and scoreboard operators, said coordinator Tom Irving.
Volunteers are needed to sell tickets at the gate and 50/50 tickets, and take on other roles like picking up pizzas for the concession stand and donated pizzas for teams to eat after games. The three-day tournament has about four games each day.
Memorial’s Boosters have hosted a craft fair for 20 years, which now hosts about 180 crafters, said organizer Tracey McClelland. “We offer our crafters a lot,” she said. Volunteers are there at 5:30 a.m. to help crafters unload, and again at 3:30 p.m. to help them load. Volunteers walk through the fair, offering to man booths while crafters take a break, or take concession orders. About 1,600 people come through, each paying a $1 admission.
Richer said their “big money” raffle involves selling 200 tickets at $100 each. The take is divided with the winners, so if they sell all the tickets, the raffle brings in $10,000 for the Boosters.
Brown thinks teams just get the basics. “It’s tough too, ’cause in some cases” kids need to provide their own equipment but can’t afford it, he said. The Police Athletic League has been able to help out with things like a catcher’s mitt or lacrosse stick for a student who needs one (Brown was in PAL for 16 years). It’s an area the Central Booster Club might be able to help with, too, he said.
Brown thinks the city is going to need to look more at how “cost-effective” per student a sport is. For instance, a 40-player team may cost the city $7,000 to run, and a 20-player team (hockey) may cost the city $100,000 to run, Brown said. Regarding the pay-to-play idea, one concern is that kids might not be able to afford it. Brown thinks a way to cope with that is to waive fees for kids who meet free-lunch program criteria.
While Memorial’s Boosters help all students, Central’s Boosters focus on athletics. The Central Pride Foundation, a separate 501C3, was founded in 2004 and supports academics and arts, said principal John Rist.
Alyssa Dumas, 17, a senior at Central, performs in the Peacock Players theater group in Nashua. She thinks some people don’t realize how many kids appreciate music and want to be involved. Students heard there was a possibility the music program could be cut completely — “the one thing that we love to do,” Dumas said.
Dumas is a jazz band member and said they are running out of songs and digging through their archives because there’s no school funding to buy music. (You need sheet music for all the parts, she explained, trumpet, vocal, etc., and you have to see if you can get the rights for it. )
Budget shortages have affected the school’s specialty class offerings as well, she said. At the end of last school year, students had classes picked out, and seniors were excited for courses they had been waiting to qualify for, which are now gone, she said. “I know a lot of the classes this year have been cut,” Dumas said. They used to have different levels of languages, and options like fashion marketing.
Rist said there were more issues than usual this fall because there were fewer teachers and Central was adjusting to a new software system for scheduling.
Tim Benner, director of the Theatre Knights at West High, has gone from teaching all theater courses (one of the few in the state hired to do that) to being a three-fifths drama teacher. He’s picked up some core English courses because there aren’t enough teachers to go around, Benner said. His program is unique in that the only funding that comes from the school is for his salary and adviser stipend (stipends fortunately were considered part of teacher contracts this year, he said). The student drama club, Manchester Theatre Knights, funds itself (props, costuming, busing) through ticket sales and fundraisers, and even covers textbooks and materials for the drama classes.
A parent support group raises money for capital improvements such as a sound system, curtains, lights and a Genie lift.
The Knights performed at the Fringe Festival in Scotland in August, and after months of fundraising managed to only bring in about 15 percent of their $100,000 trip cost (short of their $25,000 to $30,000 goal), which meant a greater burden for families, Benner said.
“We’ve been seeing it for a long time ... where we’ve had to step up and help out with things that in the past the district paid for,” Nashua South Music Booster president Carolyn Kasten said.
“I think in general what we’re seeing at the parent level and at the Booster level is that anything that’s above the very basic needs of the music department, we’re filling in the gaps for,” Kasten said.
The Boosters ran a fundraiser recently to send money to middle school departments because there are no music booster groups below high school level in Nashua, Kasten said.
“There’s just a ton of gaps the parents fill in,” she said. They help with chaperoning and cover band camp supplies like sunscreen (which sounds small until you’ve stood in a field for six hours on an August day) and underwrote half the $300 tuition for each student attending the All-State music festival. Parents used to be charged $30 or $50 for band camp, which was eliminated because it’s a course, Kasten said. That ended up putting more pressure on the Booster budget. Either parents pay a la carte or the Boosters provide, Kasten said.
West High Music Supporters have helped fund trips, instrument repairs, drum major academy tuition and other expenses; they’ve stepped up fundraising and expect more costs later.
It may be expensive to run something like a marching band program (Londonderry High School’s band is invited to the 2011 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, and took about 250 students to perform in Beijing in 2008, for example) but parents don’t just seek ways to help pay. The long and short of it is you can’t bring a few busloads of kids somewhere, plus a truckload of expensive equipment and musical instruments, with just, say, two teachers and a colorguard coach. It doesn’t work.
Loyal networks of parents become de facto security and support, often quietly in the background handling logistics, keeping kids fed and hydrated, and otherwise taking care of things so students and teachers can focus on performance.
It’s not just current needs that some of these groups are concerned with. In fact, most provide scholarships for graduating seniors.
For the Nashua North Titan Boosters, that was their original role and what they’ve mainly focused on. They are struggling with a small membership of about six as the new school in Nashua — Nashua High was split in 2004.
The Titan Boosters were actually wondering if they should disband until seniors awarded scholarships told them they didn’t know how else they were going to pay for college textbooks, Beth Hurd, said. The Boosters gave out six $500 scholarships last year. All students needed to do to apply was have played a sport at the school and put their name into essentially a lottery. Still, only 30 applied, they said.
Memorial Boosters raise money throughout the year through membership fees. Families pay $25 to join, and with that money, any senior can qualify for a scholarship if his or her parent has attended three meetings in the year and volunteered at two Booster Club events.
Joining the frugal crowd
Educating on a shoestring isn’t new. Charter schools in New Hampshire were allocated $5,000 per pupil for the 2008-2009 school year, while regular public schools spent on average $12,000 per student, according to the Academy for Science and Design, a young charter in Merrimack (www.asdnh.org).
At St. Joseph’s Junior High School in Manchester, everyone knows to shut off lights as soon as they leave a room. Temperatures are kept comfortable but not toasty. Because they are downtown, the students can take “walking field trips,” availing themselves of resources at the Currier Museum of Art and other nearby institutions, often free, said principal Pauline Martineau. Students pay a sports fee to cover transportation costs. And St. Joseph’s does plenty of fundraising, because tuition doesn’t cover all its operating costs. There are candy bar sales, a talent show and more.
Dr. Paul Pederzani, past president of Nashua North Boosters, noted that high schools are like college campuses these days. He thinks schools could save by putting students to work, integrating things like Web site upkeep into school projects, assigning marketing students to sell ads for fundraiser programs, and the like.
“Our job is not to point the finger but to raise money for the kids,” Brown wrote. “So we ... think outside of the box and use fresh ideas and will welcome any help. ... I think it’s all a work in progress. We’re going to have to deal with it. It is what it is.”
Chris Silva, 6; Mikaela Aherrera, 11; Katie Brockway, 11; Larrissa Doe, 5; Rebeka Aherrera, 8; and Christine Brockway, 10, help out at the Gossler Park School PTG Election Day bake sale Nov. 3. Heidi Masek photo.
Anatomy of a bake sale
Parent volunteers discuss the ins and outs of a favorite fundraiser
Because of a federal nutrition initiative, bake sales aren’t permitted in schools during school hours now, said Tim Brockway, president of the Gossler Park School PTG. They used to hold one every other week there.
However, Election Day fundraisers have become popular among parent teacher groups. They mobilize volunteer parent and teacher bakers — who donate what they bake, making this pretty much a no-cost fundraiser — and capitalize on the stream of people coming through the school to vote or take a break from campaigning outside.
At McDonough School in Manchester, volunteers arrived way before the polls opened to set up an impressive spread of baked goods (reassuringly wrapped tightly and neatly in plastic), warm beverages, and a table of soups — which campaigners standing outside all day appreciate, bake sale chair Jess Phillips said. A poster on the wall behind them lists activities that the PTA raises funds for. The sale continues until polls close, and they give anything left over to those dutifully holding campaign signs outside. “Those people work their butts off for what they believe,” Phillips said, nonpartisanly. She’s run this bake sale for about four years. All six of her kids help on bake sale day.
During last year’s presidential election, they pulled in $1,800, about $1,000 more than Gossler Park, Phillips reported.
Broad Street Elementary raised about $375 at its Election Day bake sale Nov. 3, not bad considering a presidential year nets about $500.
There are two schools of thought on bake sales — sale by donation or by fixed-price donation, Brockway said. Gossler Park tends to use fixed price, while McDonough goes with free will.
Phillips said the theory is that if you mark 25 cents on something, people ask for change. If you don’t price things, they may put higher amounts in the donation can, figuring it’s for a good cause. That usually makes up for people who put in only 3 cents, she said. McDonough has about 100 bakers on its volunteer list. “The teachers really come through” with baking, Phillips said.
Baking your way to success
Here’s a list of tips for Election Day bake sale success from Phillips and Vikki Gelinas of McDonough School PTA, and Brockway and Deb Aherrera of the Gossler Park PTG in Manchester:
• Beforehand, stay on your volunteers about making food.
• Get the word out.
• Have something warm to drink, like coffee or cider.
• Put the table at kids’ eye level.
• Make sure you know who your politicians are — then guilt them into buying a lot of baked goods.
• The presentation should be pretty, pleasant and clean.
• Student participation is key (who can resist cute kids?)
• Advice differs here. McDonough recommends asking for free will donations and believes that can raise more money. Gossler Park recommends reasonable fixed price points.
Other ideas: concessions
Tips from Colin Upham, who runs the concession stand at home football games at Memorial Field, one of Memorial High School Boosters Club’s main fundraising activities:
• Have good weather. People don’t buy food in a downpour.
• Buy products in bulk. Try bulk-buy stores or ask for discounted rates from vendors like Coca-Cola.
• Make calls ahead of time to ensure food and beverage deliveries will be on time, enough volunteers are scheduled, etc.
• Have enough volunteers (he uses about 12) and divide them among different product assignments. Otherwise, volunteers end up exhausted.
• Send some of your volunteers out to sell 50/50 raffle tickets.
• Build relationships with local businesses (a pizza shop might cut you a discount, for example), then recommend those businesses that help out to everyone you know.
The craft fair
Memorial’s Boosters have hosted a craft fair for 20 years, which is now up to about 180 crafters, said organizer Tracey McClelland. Here are a few of her tips:
• Build a reputation among crafters by offering plenty of support. Recruit volunteers (teens and parents) to help crafters unload and load and staff booths.
• Be very, very organized. You’ll need to draw up a booth map and assign spaces to crafters, coordinate volunteers, and schedule and pay for things like police detail.
• Advertise well, using PSAs, newspapers and flyers.
• Charge a nominal fee at the door. Those $1 admissions add up if you have 1,600 people through the doors.
• Hold a bake sale and concession stand there, or allow other school groups to hold concurrent fundraisers (and tap their membership for volunteers).
The sports event
Advice from Tom Irving, Memorial High School Booster in charge of the Queen City Invitational Basketball Tournament:
• Get a lot of people to help you, and then delegate. On the tournament organizing committee, one handles a program book, another handles trophies and awards, etc.
• Get your game officials, police detail, etc., scheduled and hired.
• Sell a program book, and sell ads in the program book.
• Run a concession stand also as a fundraiser at the event.
• Find sponsors for items like trophies.
• Find a lot of event volunteers and organize them into shifts and tasks.
A few high school fundraisers on the horizon:
• Chipotle precedes the opening of the new Nashua store in its Mexican restaurant chain with two fundraising nights. Pay a $5 donation for a burrito, chips and salsa and a soda, to benefit the Nashua North High School Athletics between 5 and 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, or Thursday, Nov. 12, to help Nashua South’s athletic programs, at 225 DW Highway. Whichever school raises the most money gets a free burrito day.
• The 20th annual Memorial High School Craft Fair is Saturday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Memorial, 1 Crusader Way in Manchester (crusaders.org). Admission costs $1.
• The West High School Theatre Knights hold their first craft fair Saturday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at West, 9 Notre Dame Ave., Manchester (use the Hecker Street entrance). Admission is by donation. Call 387-5225 or visit theatreknights.com.
• Teams will be raising funds at the Turkey Bowl Thanksgiving Day football game between Nashua’s two public high schools.
• The Queen City Basketball Invitational Tournement is Dec. 26-28 at Memorial High School in Manchester.
• Restaurant nights: About once a month, Birch Hill arranges a fundraising night with a local restaurant and receives a percentage of sales.
• Shop-for-a-Cause at Macy’s: organizations sell tickets for a shopping day that entitle the user to discounts. Other national restaurants and stores, such as Barnes & Noble, have similar events (Friday, Nov. 27, for Manchester West Theatre Knights; print a voucher at theatreknights.com).
• Gift cards: Businesses help by providing gift cards to sell and then donating part of the proceeds to the fundraising group.
• Grocery store programs: Register your discount card online to have 1 percent of your sale support your preferred nonprofit. In Shaw’s Community Rewards, a small percent of sales Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday goes to nonprofits requested. Points are earned for a school in Stop & Shop’s A+ Bonus Bucks program. Hannaford has a “Hannaford Helps Schools” program in which sales of designated products benefit local schools. Help an alma mater or a school for a friend or family member.