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Fundraising during a pandemic

Many non-profits depend on donations and fundraisers to support their programs. And the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) is no different. We could not survive without the support of parents and community members.

But this year it is harder to fundraise. Many businesses that we depend on for support are struggling. Some have laid off workers or are not even open. And if we turn to parents, we face similar issues. They may be struggling financially, worried about losing their job or be unemployed.

Our school district was concerned about the stress that families could be dealing with whether it was financial or emotional. Originally, they banned all fundraising. And then they amended it to only the schools and that any other group fundraising could not pressure students into participating. This meant no sales as well as no incentives to participate.

At least this meant our PTA could hold our normal fundraisers – especially after I had been working since June on our silent auctions. This is one of our biggest fundraisers and we were coming off a record year where we made over $6000. But as I solicited businesses for donations, I knew this year’s silent auction would not be a repeat of last year. Many businesses were either not open or had put any donation programs on hold. It was totally understandable, and I was very appreciative to those businesses who were able to donate.

As part of our auction, we also usually auction off opportunities for the students – lunch with the principal, front of the line lunchroom passes, tickets to the games, front row seats to the school play or concerts, naming the school hallways, and the opportunity to be the school mascot. Well, this year, we don’t know what will happen with concerts and at the time sports hadn’t restarted so many of these opportunities were out. It was time to get creative. A new item we added this year that proved to be very popular was letting parents buy the opportunity to have their student’s birthday announced on the school marquee.

Our other big fundraisers is to seek out corporate sponsorships. We offer 3 levels and while a few businesses opted to skip this year, others did move down in their sponsorship level. But the good news is that I did get three new businesses to become sponsors and have 10 total sponsors right now.

I’m quite proud of how well both the auction and sponsorships are going as fundraising is not my forte. And it isn’t even my position. See I am the president of the PTA but since we don’t have a second vice president, I have taken over that position’s duties. Technically, the whole board is supposed to fill in for any vacancy, but no one ever wants to fundraise.

Donations from parents and membership to the PTA are also both down this year. We certainly won’t have the budget we had last year, but then again with school year is totally different. Currently only a very small group of students are back in the building as they slowly allow student to return to in person instruction. The rest of the students are still doing virtual learning. And with no volunteers allowed on campus, our programs have been reduced. This is definitely a year like no other.

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