Fundraising is an important part of all Grad Nights. The success of Grad Night is dependent upon developing and implementing a successful financial plan.
The first step is to prepare a budget. A budget is simply a financial plan to balance the estimated income against the expenditures.
The second step is to determine how the event will be funded. Most Grad Nights are funded by a combination of ticket sales, fund-raisers, donations, and/or grants. Some Grad Nights use ticket sales to pay for the basic celebration and use community donations and fund raisers as "icing on the cake". Other Grad Nights do not charge for tickets and use community donations and fund-raisers to pay for the entire event. Each Grad Night has to find the correct formula.
The Treasurer should prepare an estimated budget with input from all of the Grad Night chairpersons. The budget should have each activity and committee as a separate budget line item. After the budget has been approved, the chairpersons are expected to maintain spending within the approved limits. The budget numbers should be changed only if approved by the Executive Committee.
The following sample budget is for illustration only.
Assume 50% attendance (250 graduates buy tickets). Set Ticket prices at $40.00 per ticket. Assume $5,000 will be obtained from Community Donations and fundraisers.
|Ticket Sales (250 X $40)
|Community Donations and Fundraising
|Administration and Miscellaneous
|Food and Beverage
|On Campus Promotion
|Postage and Printing
You can set your ticket price in several ways:
Most Grad Nights use the following methods to obtain funds:
Ticket sales can provide the basic funding for Grad Night. Most Grad Nights charge some level of admission. In 1999, reported ticket prices varied from a low of $20 to a reported high of $120. The average ticket price was approximately $50. Some Grad Nights did not charge for admission. Some of the reported ticket arrangements were as follows:
Some Grad Nights offer free tickets to deserving graduates who cannot afford an entrance ticket. The Grad Nights obtain a list of graduates from the school and send the tickets directly to the graduate or send a block of tickets to the school. In either event, the names of the graduates who receive the tickets must be kept confidential.
Federal financing may be available in your school area via the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. Check with your city or county school board office. These dollars carry a lot of restrictions and may only be used for certain items or programs. Don't be surprised to find all of the money allocated to your county or city is already earmarked.
In general, these federal dollars cannot pay for entertainment, T-shirts (unless they carry a drug free message on them), prizes, or activities but can be used for education (including Grad Night workshops).
Everyone knows lots of ways to raise money and you're probably groaning at the thought of another fund-raiser. Some suggestions:
Because pizza restaurants typically do not offer dessert, Grad Night may want to sell dessert at the Pizza Parlor to raise money. Customers will become accustomed to seeing you there, and will watch for the group every week.
Print an art auction catalog giving information about the auction including the rules, the pieces to be auctioned, list of patrons, etc. Include information about Grad Night. Sell admission tickets ($5 to attend). If possible, use a professional auction company.
Anticipated Profit could be as high as $2,000 from auction and $4,000 in ticket sales.
Many grocery stores are willing to sell discounted coupons for use in their stores. They do it because they are guaranteed the coupons will be spent in their stores as the coupons are not good anywhere else.
WHAT A DEAL!!! Grocery Certificate Program Helps GRAD NIGHT earn thousands. At absolutely NO COST to you, and NO EFFORT on your part, you can do something astonishing for GRAD NIGHT. Purchase Grocery Certificates! Here are the facts about the program:
Many parents, community businesses and organizations are happy to be part of Grad Night and will gladly give a donation.
The fundraising committee typically handles solicitations for donations. This prevents duplicate soliciting. Most businesses are annoyed if more than one person for the same event approaches them.
If a regional group has been formed which includes your school, it is imperative to follow the solicitation guidelines. Failure to comply with the agree upon guidelines jeopardizes the entire process, as the businesses cannot understand why an individual school has contacted them after being told that only one regional letter would be sent. Often they will ask to be withdrawn from the program.
For schools in small rural areas that feel they have few community resources even after reading the above list, it may be necessary to be a little creative. All communities use services regardless of their size.
The following are suggestions for other places to start:
When writing a donation request letter, keep the letter brief but be sure to include the purpose of Grad Night, the purpose of the letter (be specific as possible about your needs), and a general overview of the event (not a detailed report). Neatness, grammar, and legibility all count. Be sure to include the name and phone number of someone to call who can answer questions. For a better response personalize the letters (rather than "Dear Businessman" or "Dear Friends"). Enclose a self-addressed envelope (with or without a stamp).
It is important that each donor feels that the items donated were useful, valuable, and appreciated. Ensure the Fundraising Committee follows through with Thank you notes. Major donors should receive a personal note, certificate, or special recognition. Businesses and organizations remember who thanks them and they do appreciate hand-written notes. A pre-printed card with an address label on the envelope just isn't good enough. Some schools invite their donors/sponsors to their Grad Night Preview so they can see where and how their donations were used.
One of the many reasons that businesses donate to Grad Night is for the publicity they will receive. If possible, arrange for an ad to run in the local newspaper shortly after the event that lists every company, organization and individual that donated. If it is impossible to obtain a free ad and the budget will not accommodate the purchase of one, the chairperson should include the name of every donor in a letter to the editor of the local paper. Ads can be purchased in your high school's football or basketball program.
On behalf of the seniors at ____ High School, the Grad Night Committee would like to thank the following businesses and individuals for their part in making the all-night GRAD NIGHT a tremendous success.
There were a total of ___graduates who attended the GRAD NIGHT celebration on ____. Due to the outstanding support of the community, over $___ in cash and numerous other prizes were given out. The night's activities included_________(list your key activities here). There was plenty of food, and just plain fun! The evening was topped off with the awarding of our grand prize, a ______(list your Grand prize). Congratulations to ______for being the lucky winner of this special prize.
It was exciting to see how the community rallied around our graduates to give them a thrilling evening. In addition to the graduates, the volunteers that evening had a wonderful time watching the grads having fun. We also thank the ________(list additional helpers here) for an excellent job of cleaning up. This event could only have been made possible because of the interest of this community, and we Thank each and everyone!
Thank You for volunteering to help obtain donations for Grad Night. You are soliciting for an extremely important and popular project.
We need donations of gifts with teen appeal. Where such gifts are not available, please try to obtain a cash contribution to offset Grad Night expenses or purchase gifts.
Please keep accurate records of donations (see below). Record each contribution on an index card. Note the actual value of each gift (If the actual value is not given, provide an estimate). Record the amount of any cash or check.
Please avoid duplication of calls. There is nothing worse than to have the business community receive several requests from different callers from the same organization.
Please send Thank you notes (see below). Also, if the donor agrees, place an acknowledgment poster in their storefront as quickly as possible.
Please ensure checks are made out to:________. Forward the checks to __________.
Please complete your work by _______ and ensure all materials have been forwarded.
The following individuals will be happy to answer questions you may have:_______.
Good luck and thanks so much!!! This will be a successful project because you're involved.
Mark off columns on a sheet of paper and use the following headings so solicitors may record information about contributors:
Please use the following format to write and mail a thank you note as soon as a gift is received. Enclosed are thank you notes and envelopes. Thank you for donating stamps. We are very grateful to each business or person who contributes to Grad Night and a prompt handwritten thank you note will underline our appreciation.
Thank you for your generous contribution of to __________ Grad Night.
When we see our young people celebrating this festive and happy occasion in a safe, drug and alcohol free environment, we will remember your interest and concern.
Thank you for helping us to give our graduates a memorable Grad Night.
Remember when you were young enough to celebrate all night? Wasn't it fun? We are inviting you to give that kind of special memory to the (school name) Class of '(year.) Grad Night.
Plans are now underway for this blockbuster event, an unforgettable gift from you, the parents, and the community to the Class of ____. The idea is to host an all night alcohol and drug-free celebration that will rate as the "celebration of a lifetime!" Imagine an event with great band (or DJ) as well as terrific in-person entertainers, interactive games, casino, carnival games, candid photos, graduation video, 'round the clock door prizes (including a $_______ grand cash prize), and all you can eat food and refreshments including breakfast! All of this is wrapped up in a party theme with fantastic decorations.
The cost of Grad Night is steep, but together we can do it! All donations are tax deductible. Even though graduation is months away, we need your commitment so we keep the ball rolling.
Thank You!! And don't wait up on the night of June ______We're going to be late!!
Dear Distinguished Friends:
The _______ senior class parents are currently organizing a tremendous GRAD NIGHT event for our graduating High School seniors. The Grad Night event will provide an alcohol and drug-free alternative to keep our seniors safe. Educators, graduates community leaders, and parents of our young adults are working countless hours to provide a memorable and entertaining evening. This special event sends a clear message to all graduates that we care about their safety.
In previous years community generosity has provided valuable prizes, contests, games, and food. Your support of this worthwhile tradition is extremely important. We need your help to continue this event.
The City Council and the School Board support Grad Night and they commend you for any contribution. Most of all, the graduating seniors are grateful to you for caring enough to provide a safe alcohol and drug free party.
Please use the enclosed form along with the self-addressed envelope to send in a contribution. Your donation is tax deductible. Thank You!!!!
Thank you for your contribution to (school name) Grad Night.
This event served as a community statement to our youth to have a wonderful time without drugs and alcohol. The celebration was a huge success and would not have been possible without the contributions and support of the community. Knowing they have the support and backing of their community leaders makes a difference for our graduates.
We appreciate your interest and concern for the safety of the graduates at (school name) during this special time in their high school year.
We have enclosed a certificate of thanks that we would like for you to proudly display to show to our community that you took part in making (school name) Grad Night (year) happen!