Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fundraising #1--Before the Book Fair

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It's Book Fair Week!

I love book fair week.  At the beginning, at least. Honestly, by the end of the week I am glad it is over, but I do enjoy it most of the time. Other people are lucky enough to have their PTA run the fair. When our school opened six years ago, we didn't have much of a PTA so I was the Chairperson and have remained so. The upside of that is that I have sole discretion over the profits, and after hearing about how some of my colleagues clear the library’s schedule for a week,sometimes act as marketer and cashier, and then get very little of the profits, I am glad for that control. The downside is that I am responsible for every part of it. In all, I have run 20 Scholastic Book Fairs now. My assistant, who is amazingly artistic and creative, helps me in every way. We make a good team.

I have always used Scholastic. I know there are other companies, but the profit margin is higher with Scholastic and they are close. I have always had good customer service and the only complaint I have is that as my book fairs bring in more money, they send me more cases. I don't have room for more cases, so sometimes the extras stay closed (shhhh).

Scholastic suggests you start planning six weeks out. I may put it on the calendar, but I do not start planning that early. If I start at 4 weeks, I am early. I create a Sign-up Genius page for the fair and ask for parents to volunteer for every conceivable job I can think of. One could use Volunteer Spot, but I just happened to already have an account and the familiarity with this website. It's easy. Just sign up for a free account and follow the prompts.

Image result for signup genius logo
You can check it out here.

Examples of volunteer opportunities:

1. I asked for a parent to count out all my flyers for each classroom.  I send home a box containing the book fair flyer, a half sheet with this fair’s times and special events that I’ll explain in another post, and a half sheet asking for donations to All for Books, Scholastic’s charity arm. We can buy books for our school with these contributions, and Scholastic matches the con

2. I asked for a parent to hang signs around the school and at the doors. The mother that did this was able to carry her 8 week old baby in a wrap while she did it.  I got to meet a new kindergarten parent, she helped when it fit her schedule, and it only took her maybe 20 minutes.  Win-win!

3. Volunteers help set up and take down. My assistant and I started moving furniture and redistributing the toys and trinkets to different boxes a day or two before set-up, which made it go much faster than usual. I love this 2 or 3 hours with parents. We get to know them better, and sometimes we make a long-time volunteer friend out of them.

4. This time I had the bright idea to ask for personal shoppers during the kindergarten and first grade classes I can't tell you how much this helped! I think this wins my Brilliant Idea of the Semester award. You know how littles will bring $5 but choose $50 worth of books and toys? It is also hard to help the littles make good choices when five bring money at the same time but  there might only be two adults in the library. Personal shoppers were gold!

5. I created a spot for parents to volunteer for every conceivable time that students are allowed to shop, which at my school are before school and during lunch, and then during the K and 1st grade classes.

My fairs have grown steadily over the last 6 years and we are making decent money. It is a lot of work, but we think it is worth it.

I would love to hear what you do to prepare for your Book Fair before it opens!  I'll share some more tricks and tips that I have learned for running the fair in my next post.

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