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The Problem with Candy Sale Fundraising in the Christian School


While it may seem right to continue down this path of the perpetual fundraiser, Christian schools must understand that this will never help establish nor achieve a sustained program of development. The funding gimmick that collects little bits of money here and there can actually hurt a true development program’s effectiveness. These smaller fundraisers are often referred to as “painless fundraisers," but in reality are causing yourself more trouble than you might realize.


These “painless fundraisers” must never be mistaken for a professionally designed and operated development program. In the long-run they can actually rob the school of significant major dollars and sustainable funds. In fact, many schools consider the painless fundraisers to be their development program. Rather than continue to operate in ignorance, let’s talk about why a “candy sale” approach to raising funds just has to go! The goal of a Christian school development program must be to create a long-term focus toward a sustained methodology of raising major dollars. Simply put, a sustained funding development program should help to,

  • identify and reach a true audience.

  • cultivate lifelong donors.

  • design a system for generating multiple-year operating funds.

  • create special events to leverage a funding plan that fits the school’s mission, vision, and core values.

When schools go the other route to raising funds … by only selling candy, SCRIP, and collecting an excessive variety of milk tops, cereal boxes, and product labels, none of these goals will ever be met.

The goal of a Christian school development program must be to create a long-term focus toward a sustained method of raising major dollars.

​In this article, we refer to "candy sales" as another expression of "painless fundraising." To that end, here are five problems with the “painless” approach to fundraising:

  1. "Candy sales" fundraising seek to reward the candy company as well as the school. In some good scenarios, a school might make 70% of selling the vendor's product. However, that is still 30% that goes somewhere else. If you need to raise a dollar, ask for a dollar. It really is that basic!

  2. When a product is bought, one might assume they have just supported the school, not fully realizing they have also lent considerable support to the "candy" company, as well.

  3. “Candy sales” can give a false impression to the “donor” that they have supported the school by purchasing a candy bar. If they are approached again for a larger gift without any “candy” being associated, they may very well be disinterested since they have already, in their mind, supported the school. It is not unusual for students (who are usually the salesmen – which is another problem) to go back to these same people each time a new sale of some sort comes along. This is where parents complain of being “nickeled and dimed to death.”

  4. “Candy sales” also give the school a false sense of security that they are developing a funding relationship with the buyer. This just is not the case. Developing a true donor relationship that is long-lasting is one that connects the donor’s heart and passion to the ministry, where eventually they may consider a large scale donation to an important project.

  5. “Candy sales” can never raise the type of money necessary for any sizeable project. Multiple-year operating needs cannot rely on the candy sale type of fundraiser.

Do you want to move your school forward financially? Is the tyranny of the urgent need for more money a constant at your school? Are you looking for new ways to make money fall from the sky? Do you wonder how you will survive another year? These are all typical concerns of many (and I mean MANY) Christian schools. There is an ever-present struggle to bring in enough money to cover the gap that tuition does not provide, and there is typically no consideration of capital improvements, program additions, etc., because there is no money to provide for those type of significant additions. If this sounds like your school, it’s time for a change.

SchoolRIGHT's DevRx Coaching will enhance your training by walking with you through a step-by-step process to begin or restructure your Development department. We will help you take a detailed look at your current processes, analyze donor perceptions and guide your Development team (no matter how small!). Authored by Clint Holden © SchoolRIGHT, LLC., unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.