Source: Atlanta, GA Photographer: Chris Hamelton
Rising operating costs coupled with shrinking budgets mean that schools are becoming more dependent upon fundraising efforts to finance special projects and events. While there are many tried and true fundraisers, the truth is that they quickly become stale. A unique fundraising project cuts through the noise of all the other fundraising events and makes donors enthusiastic about supporting a cause. The trick is coming up with a unique fundraising idea. Enter photo calendars. They’re fun and practical and the perfect fundraising option for schools.
Why Photo Calendars?
Many people rely on cell phones and other mobile devices for scheduling and planning. Yet despite the conveniences offered by the digital age, lots of busy families still synchronize their weekly and monthly schedules on an old-fashioned family wall calendar. This makes a photo calendar the perfect fundraising opportunity. Schools can print the scheduled school events on the calendars, meaning that all events are already posted with no work from Mom or Dad. No more forgotten conferences! They’re also the perfect gift for grandparents who want to keep abreast of the grandchildren’s school activities.
Photo calendars can feature a school mascot as well as school colors, making them the perfect public declaration of school pride. Moreover, local businesses can offset the wholesale cost of the calendars by buying advertising space. That one act not only serves as marketing for their business, but also demonstrates their commitment to area schools. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Photo Calendar Considerations
Schools have several options when considering photo calendar fundraisers. Perhaps the first decision is timing. Traditional calendars begin in January, meaning that sales should begin as early as November. This makes it necessary to begin planning for the calendar sale during the summer months. A benefit to the traditional January-December calendar is that they are available during the Christmas shopping season, making them a perfect choice for a Christmas gift. Another option is a calendar based on the school year. These calendars begin in August or September and run through the next year. Planning should begin in spring, and they can be marketed through the summer months and at back-to-school events. The benefit of the school-year calendar is that events are scheduled school-year by school-year. Using this format guarantees that all planned events are included on the 12 month calendar.
Once the format has been chosen, the school must decide how to produce the calendars. Some schools use their resources to create and market their own. Others rely upon professional publishers to create the photo calendar. The decision comes down to the final product. Although a self-created calendar may cost less to produce, schools will have to sell these calendars at a lesser price. A professionally produced calendar may carry higher production costs, but those costs can often be recouped thanks to a higher price point. There are a number of companies who are willing to help schools create a high quality photo calendar to fit any fundraising budget.
Once the decision has been made as to how to produce the calendar, it’s time to start thinking about the calendar’s theme. Obviously the photos play an important role in this. Although the photos do not need to be professional to make a desirable calendar, the quality of the pictures is important. Higher quality photos will inevitably lead to more calendar sales. Also be sure to include as many students as possible in the calendar photos. No one wants to be left out of a school-wide event. Since the target audience of a school photo calendar is parents with school-aged children, use that information as a starting point when selecting the overall calendar theme. Some popular themes include the following:
• Class photos
• School sports
• Famous alumni
• Winning student artwork
• Class collages
• Favorite teachers
• Photos from annual events
• Local wildlife or points of interest
• The school mascot Themes are limited only to the imagination.
Selling Photo Calendars
A well-designed photo calendar almost sells itself, but there are some considerations to keep in mind. Whether self-publishing or buying published calendars, consider how many calendars the school will realistically sell. There’s nothing worse than a pile of unsold calendars taking up room in a closet. Order a conservative amount. Reprints can be ordered later. Use all available venues to market the calendars. This includes the school’s website, social media posts, flyers, posters, newsletters, and newsgroups. If businesses placed ads in the calendar, ask them to help market the calendars at their place of business. Don’t discount selling calendars at events like music programs and sporting events.
Not only are photo calendars a practical fundraising product, but they also make a great school keepsake for children long after the school year ends. They make a fun and practical fundraising option for schools seeking alternative ways to raise funds.