Devising and executing fundraising efforts throughout the year has become a necessity for many parents, especially those with children who participate in clubs and on sports teams. In this age of budget cuts, programs often seek income generated by fundraisers to cover supplies, equipment and program expenses.

Regardless of fundraising experience, parents are being called on to champion efforts that must yield significant profits. Even when they’re not in charge, parents are expected to contribute ideas and share in the work to keep programming afloat.

One of the most lucrative methods of fundraising that parents can exploit deals with producing printed materials, such as calendars, posters, catalogs and greeting cards. With minimal investment, these items can generate thousands of dollars in fundraising revenue. But they have to be done right. To assist you with your next fundraising effort, here are some success stories to emulate this school year by people who have done it best.

Marching to a $3,000 Profit

For years, the Hamilton Aggie Marching Band had sold a relatively small tear-off type of calendar. With a single picture at the top, the calendar was printed by a local printer.

“We’d sold ads to local businesses in our old calendar, but they were so small, they were more of a donation,” says Nathan Garner, band director of the award-winning 75-member marching band of Hamilton High School in Alabama.

When Garner needed a bigger return on his band’s efforts, he used a template from an online printer to create a custom band calendar. “Where our old school calendar broke even and was hardly worth the effort, our new calendar made over $3,000,” says Garner. “For the same price we’d done the smaller tear-out calendar before, we created a large 28-page calendar with a full-color photo of the band on the cover, and black-and-white photos of the band and kids inside. Friends and families loved seeing their kids in the bigger photos, and businesses liked the bigger ads.”

To raise extra money and get people excited about the calendar, the band printed people’s birthdays and anniversaries over photos for $1 each. With the purchase, people listened to local TV and radio stations to hear their names announced on screen and on air on their birthdays and other special occasions. One daily winner from the birthday listings received a free meal from a local eatery. One weekly winner from the anniversary listings received two tickets to see a movie in town.

For $5 each, the band sold most of the 500 calendars that were printed. The band sold ten $25 ads on most of the inside pages, as well as almost 1,000 birthday, anniversary and “in memory” listings. The calendar cost $1,200 to produce and netted the band more than $3,000 in profit while generating excitement and involvement in the school and community.

Rounding Up Almost $8,000

The Hawaii High School Rodeo Association printed a 15-month calendar to raise money and showcase students in the high school rodeo program. Each of 15 graduating seniors received their own page with a description of their future.

To incorporate other students in the calendar, smaller student pictures bordered the calendar’s top pages each month. The bottom pages were simple and clean, each with a different drug-free slogan. A community photographer donated the photography.

When the Rodeo Association sold the calendar around the area and at rodeo events for $15, 700 were sold out of 750, yielding $10,500. After paying for the printing cost, the rodeo association netted nearly $8,000 while honoring the graduating seniors.

Reaching Out to Donors

Archbishop Murphy High School, a co-educational Catholic college-preparatory school in Everett, Washington, got creative by using its annual report to honor donors and raise money for the school. The report included photos of the students in the many services they contribute to the community, along with descriptive captions. A donation envelope appeared in the center of the report.

More information on successful fundraising ideas can be found in the Marketing Smarts section of

“From international relief, to food and clothing drives, to working at retirement homes and summer camps, our students are actively giving back to the community,” says Patti Means, director of communications at Archbishop Murphy High School. “While honoring donors in the report, we wanted to show them what their generosity is helping to make possible, both in the lives of our students and in the lives of those they touch.”

Besides the annual report, the school created a boys’ basketball team poster. The poster displays a large color team photo, the team’s schedule and advertisements from local businesses. The advertisements essentially covered the cost of the poster. The cost of the fundraising lesson learned is priceless.

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