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Extra Credit

Want to boost your sales? Go back to school.

School-based fund-raising programs could add a whole new force to your sales team.

"There's money to be made in fund raising," says Carol Exley, owner of Colorado Gold Promotions Inc., a promotions firm in Lakewood, Colorado, that works with schools and nonprofit organizations to structure product-based fund-raising programs. "But you have to be smart about it."

Exley evaluates the fund-raising needs and capabilities of her clients and assists them in designing programs that will ensure the success of their fund-raising efforts. To do this, she draws on Colorado Gold Promotions' local resources as well as its national suppliers.

  • Examine your product. In Exley's experience, some of the most successful products are affordable consumables, such as candies, cookie dough and, more recently, frozen foods; flowers; customizable products, such as apparel; and home-decorating items.
  • Count costs. Most school groups expect to make 40 to 50 percent of the cost of the item during the fund-raiser. The manufacturers must absorb related costs, including shipping and order-form printing. Do some quick math to see if your profit margins will support those numbers.
  • Decide on prepaid or post-paid. Your fund-raiser can require payment either with the order or upon delivery. Exley generally structures pre-paid school promotions, especially when perishables are involved, to avoid problems with collection after the product has been delivered.
  • Get the timing right. According to Exley, the ideal length of a school fund-raiser is two to three weeks, including at least two weekends. Longer events may result in procrastination; shorter events don't always give enough time to produce results.

Gwen Moran is president of Moran Marketing Associates, a public relations and marketing communications agency in Ocean, New Jersey. She is currently completing a marketing workbook titled Promote Your Business. E-mail her at

Contact Source

Colorado Gold Promotions Inc., (303) 986-4357

This story appears in the April 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »