New Year, New Intentions

Forget resolutions, let's talk about living intentionally! Let's make this year the most meaningful yet by transitioning our focus to something we can all get behind: spreading kindness. This shift doesn't have to be difficult - in fact, we've made it easy! We want to help you bring kindness to your family, school, team, AND group. Check out the ways in which you can incorporate kindness into the conversation and make it a part of your everyday life. Oh, and if you're sick of giving up a huge chunk of your fundraising profits by selling products or running laps, we're happy to help you transition there as well ;)

Ways to Start the New Year Off Right

  • Have your kids write down 3-5 ways in which they want to help others this year
  • Plan a "Do Good Day" once a month where you go and serve somewhere together
  • Create a gratitude journal that documents ways in which you and your kids are thankful
  • Write down 5 nice things about a sibling/peer/teammate and have them read them to each other
  • Make space for a Magic Mail Center in your house or classroom - learn more about this simple but POWERFUL idea on Doing Good Together
  • Create a kindness calendar that has a little idea each day - check it off once it's completed!
  • Switch your fundraising efforts to something more meaningful like Raise Craze! To learn more about making the easy switch, click here!

Teaching Kids the Value of Gratitude

Along with kindness, gratitude is another strong component of a Raise Craze fundraiser. And why not use the month of November to highlight that? When participants are asking their friends and family for donations, we think that those donors should be thanked and celebrated. That's why, in a Raise Craze fundraiser, participants show appreciation for their gift by going out and paying it forward by serving others!

Check out the links below to discover different ways you can teach your kids the value of gratitude even outside of a Raise Craze fundraiser. We've scoured the internet and these are some of our favorites!

Fall Acts of Kindness for All Ages This site offers 39 "fall themed" acts of kindness for your family to enjoy. There's even a cute printable to download and share!

The Best Way to Teach Kids Gratitude The blog offers an idea of a "Do Good Day" once a month. It's easy for families to implement and fun to see how it impacts kids.

Gratitude Journal Prompts for the Whole Year We love the idea of a gratitude journal! It's a great way to get kids thinking! These prompts are designed for kids 5-12 and are great for journaling or just to get a conversation going.

Busy Hands: Wheel of Thankfulness This is a great craft to get your kids thinking about what they are thankful for. All you need is a sheet of paper, glue, pens, scissors, and a magazine! So easy and fun!

Gratitude Books for Kids that Inspire Thankfulness Need to spice up your child's book collection? Choose a few of these! They are sure to entertain while communicating such a positive message.

Let the Roadmap Put You On the Path to Fundraising Success!

At Raise Craze, we are constantly innovating to make fundraising more efficient and more meaningful. While kindness is at the heart of our fundraiser, we also want be kind to all you fundraiser organizers out there by making the process a seamless one. So without further ado, let us introduce you to the Raise Craze Roadmap!

Once you create your account, you will discover the magic of the Roadmap. No need to keep that tattered notebook that's passed down from year to year - the Roadmap has everything you'll need. From communication templates and custom handouts to a checklist that guides you through each stage of your fundraiser - we've thought of it all. So sit back and relax as you enjoy your journey to fundraising success!

Preview What's Inside:

 
 

In addition, the Road Map contains suggested acts of kindness lists, incentive ideas, instructions handouts, parent communication templates, and more!

Check out the Roadmap in action by creating your account below! If you're excited to learn more about how you can keep more with kindness, please join us here.

3 Questions Every PTA Should Be Asking

Fundraising has evolved with more and more schools joining the Responsible Fundraising movement.  Check out the 3 questions every PTA should be asking and see how you stack up.

1. Is OUR fundraiser consistent with Our values?

Low quality products? Junk food?  Kids as salespeople? More and more schools are taking a good hard look at how their schools fundraise. If we push for clean eating and healthy lifestyles during school, then why are we still having our students sell products that do just the opposite?

Leading schools have discovered that friends and family give because they want to support to the student, not because of the products being sold.  There's no longer the need to have your students running in circles selling products your school really doesn't believe in and donors don't actually want or need.  Walk the walk and talk the talk.

2. are we Being a Good Steward of Funds?

Leading PTAs ensure that the lion's share of the donations go to the school, not fundraising companies.  How many times have we all heard "Can't I just write you a check?" People give because they want to support the student and NOT because of how many laps the student ran or the product they are selling.

With the traditional fun run companies and the product companies keeping 50% or more of the proceeds, PTAs are demanding alternatives. No donor wants half of their money to disappear!

The rule of thumb used by charity watchdogs is that fundraising costs should be less than 25% of the total proceeds.  For the best-in-class, it is 10% or less.  Sadly, most schools would rate C- or worse.

 

Where do you stack up?

 
 

Data referenced from charitywatch.org

3. are we Creating a Positive Experience for our Students?

What effect does your annual fundraiser have on your students? Is everyone respected and treated fairly, regardless of their ability to earn money? Or are kids manipulated by prizes and made to feel left out? While many fundraising companies claim to teach kids "leadership" and "character building," the opposite is being accomplished. Passing out prizes in front of the entire group based on how many pledges per lap you achieved or how many cookie dough orders you took reinforces a "have versus have not" culture.

Leading schools recognize that what they leave behind after their fundraiser ends is just as important as what they are raising money for in the first place.  

And the best part?  These schools have proven that responsible fundraising works.  They are achieving superior financial results compared to their peers by choosing efficient fundraising platforms that are consistent with their values.  How's that for a change?

Your Fall Fundraising Planner!

We understand that planning for your yearly fundraising efforts can be a daunting task. That's why we've created a Fundraising Planner to help guide your conversations as you discuss this year's push.
Be sure to download the printable so you can take it to your next meeting. 
Let's get started!

The Big picture

  1. How much are we looking to raise?
  2. What will these funds support?
  3. Will we outsource to a fundraising company or put on the fundraiser ourselves?
  4. If we bring in a company, what percentage of the profits do they keep?
  5. Are we doing one big push or will there be multiple fundraisers throughout the year?
  6. If we are doing multiple fundraisers, do any of the dates conflict?

big picture takeaways

  • If you are outsourcing your fundraising efforts to a third party, be a good steward of donor's funds and make sure they aren't walking away with a large portion of YOUR money.
  • Consider the one-and-done approach to fundraising for the year! By consolidating your efforts into one large campaign, you will (1) increase the likelihood that participants take it seriously, and (2) improve your results and save time.

the communication plan

  1. How are we going to gain support from administration (kick-off meeting, etc.)? How often?
  2. How are we going to promote it to students (morning announcements, assemblies, social media, carpool line, etc.)? How often?
  3. How are we going to promote it to parents (email, carpool line, back-to-school night, social media, etc)? How often?

communication plan takeaways

  • Communication is key when launching a successful fundraiser. Consider having a launch meeting for administration to get them behind your fundraiser early on.
  • Parents really enjoy being in-the-know. Send out an initial announcement via email with status updates throughout your event. Consider the power of social media as well!
  • Keep students engaged and motivated by delivering daily status updates either over the daily announcements, in their classrooms, etc. Get creative!

The details

  1. What are the dates of our fundraiser?
  2. Are we using incentives? If so, are they monetary?
  3. If monetary, what is our incentive budget?
  4. Will incentives be awarded to individuals, groups/classrooms, or both?
  5. What is the criteria for each incentive?
  6. Are there individual goals set for each student?
  7. Are there goals set for each group/classroom?

the details takeaways

  • Consider limiting your fundraiser to 2-3 weeks - we promise, less is more! If it goes over that time period, parents, participants, and donors get a little restless and you're less likely to finish strong.
  • We understand that incentives can be huge motivators but we recommend leveling the playing field and creating rewards for all students! Not everyone can raise money so try to be creative and reward for different things as well!
  • Not all rewards have to be monetary - ever heard of Principal for the Day? Or duct taping a teacher to a wall? Or Pajama Day? The possibilities are endless!
  • Setting classroom goals can create some fun buzz around your school and the competition may be motivation enough!

The Raise Craze Difference: An Elementary School Case Study

Ever heard the saying, "kindness is contagious"? We have. We've even seen it happen first hand. Case in point: Augusta Circle Elementary (ACE) in Greenville, SC. This school has been an innovator since the beginning, especially when it comes to how it fundraises. So in 2015, ACE was determined to lead the way once again and seek out something new and different. Despite the overwhelming success they had with a popular fun run company, they were tired of the pressure exerted on the kids and frustrated with the amount of money the fundraising company kept.

The launch

Here's where Raise Craze comes in. In partnership with a highly motivated PTA board, Raise Craze gave ACE and their surrounding community an experience like none other. The school kicked off their 3-week fundraiser with a school-wide service expo night where students and their families could begin their kindness adventure. Students made blessing bags for the homeless, decorated placemats for Meals on Wheels, created sunshine cards for the local children's hospital, wrote letters of thanks to veterans, and more. The students continued performing acts of kindness throughout their fundraiser. Not a transaction by any means, just as an act of gratitude.

tragedy strikes

Two weeks into their fundraiser, Columbia, SC was hit with treacherous flooding that greatly damaged a local elementary school. ACE felt the need to do something. Having already exceeded their goal, they decided to donate 100% of all funds received in the final days of their fundraiser to the school in need. It amounted to a gift of over $16,000!

the impact

As a company, we were blown away. The joy felt by completing small acts of kindness spiraled into something that neither Raise Craze nor ACE could even imagine. The school in Columbia was eternally grateful and the news spread like wildfire. Talk about changing the climate of your school! With a 93% rate of participation, the students completed 3,923 acts of kindness! One of the biggest takeaways for ACE was that this kindness movement is absolutely real and has lasted way beyond the time frame of their fundraiser. Like we said, it truly is contagious!

 

The Summer of Kindness Challenge!

Let us challenge you to keep this kindness thing going throughout the year - even after your fundraiser has ended. Spread these out through the summer months and see how excited your kids get when they are able to serve others! Be sure to download the printable as well!

  • Make a batch of homemade popsicles and pass them out to your neighbors (fun recipe ideas).
  • Invite a friend or neighbor to the pool who you know doesn't have access to one.
  • Host a backyard sprinkler party for your neighbors.
  • Donate unused pool toys to a local organization.
  • Help your parents with the yard work.
  • Build a tin can bird feeder (instructions).
  • Invite others to cool down by handing out free lemonade and ice water.
  • Host a lemonade stand and donate all profits to a charity of your choice.
  • Make summer-themed sunshine cards for the local children's hospital.
  • Buy bathing suits and donate them to underprivileged youth.
  • Offer to water your neighbor's plants once a week.
  • Decorate garden stones with kind sayings and hide them around your neighborhood for others to find (inspiration).
  • Offer to walk your neighbor's dog once a week.
  • Put together a summer bouquet of flowers and deliver them to someone in a nursing home.
  • Buy ice cream for someone in line behind you at the ice cream shop.

A Team that Serves Together, Stays Together

This past March, we wrapped up our second annual Lacrosse Cares Cup. The Cup is something that we've been extremely excited about and are already dreaming up for next year. This two-week event brings together teams across the region to compete by raising money for their school's program. In typical Raise Craze fashion, players complete acts of service in their communities as a way of thanking their donors. Often, teams choose to serve together which we believe is a great way to strengthen not only the community but also their team bond.

This year, Dutch Fork High School's Varsity Boys team, out of Irmo, SC, won the Cup. However, all four of Dutch Fork's teams served together at the Epworth Children's Home in Columbia. They spent the day sprucing up the grounds and helping wherever needed. Another participating team, the AC Flora Boys Lacrosse team served over a two day period at St Lawrence Place. It was awesome to see them interacting with the children that lived there by playing outside and reading books together.

Below, you will find out why Raise Craze is the perfect solution to team fundraising - no more discount cards, neighborhood blitzes, coupon books, etc. - just kindness!

  • By identifying 10 donors, players typically raise $150-$200
  • With our coach's dashboard, participant tracking and accounting is done for you
  • With a one-and-done approach to fundraising, coaches are allowed to focus more on team and player development
  • Serving together will allow players to strengthen their team bond - on and off of the field
  • The work is done for you - we provide participant instructions to hand out and craft the donor emails

While we offer the Cup in the spring, teams from any sport can participant in Raise Craze year-around. Have questions about the Raise Craze Lacrosse Cares Cup or about fundraising for your team? Reach out to us! We'd love to hear from you!

Tips for Fundraising Success!

At Raise Craze, we want to do everything in our power to set you up to thrive. While we think Raise Craze is the easiest and most meaningful way to fundraise, we want you to be successful no matter which avenue you choose. Let these 5 tips lead you down the path of success.

Less is More

Limit your fundraiser to 2-3 weeks - we promise, less is more! The excitement factor fizzles when you drag out a fundraiser for too long.

Own the One-and-Done Approach

Just like having one fundraiser last a long time, donors and participants become restless when you execute a bunch of fundraisers in a given time period. Have your team do one big push and knock out fundraising for the year - trust us, your parents will greatly appreciate it.

Reach for the Stars

Unite your school, team, or group and set some goals! Ensure 100% participation, set a monetary goal, and expand your reach. By working together to accomplish these goals, you are able to build bonds within your organization and your community.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Keep your participants, parents, and staff informed! With everyone in the loop, you're sure to pull off an amazing event.

Share the love...

...on social media, of course. People love hearing about others helping fund something they're proud of so let them know about it! Not only does it make you fell good, it shows how strong your organization is.

You're all set!
Now get out there and help fund your organization!
 

Serving Locally, Acting Globally

Five Oaks Academy completed 188 Acts of Kindness!

Five Oaks Academy completed 188 Acts of Kindness!

We are excited to share this unique fundraiser with you! One of our Raise Craze schools, Five Oaks Academy, has partnered with Wells of Love, an awesome organization that brings clean water to the Azawak Valley of West Africa. For the 2nd year in a row, Five Oaks has raised Money for Wells of Love while paying it forward in their local community. This fundraiser truly fulfills the idea of "serving locally, acting globally." Many schools across the country opt out of raising money for the school and in turn, raise money for a non-profit. By partnering with Raise Craze, schools can make their impact even greater by:

  • Enabling 100% participation (everyone can do acts of kindness!)
  • Increasing the school's over all reach
  • Taking the hassle out of fundraising by allowing us to do most of the work for you through donor communications, accounting, and participant tracking

Five Oaks Academy has nearly doubled the amount raised versus their prior fundraiser donations, completed 188 acts of kindness this year alone, and has impacted not only their local community but the global community as well. We're honored to be a part of something so significant.

The Five Oaks Academy Kindness Catcher: A collection of stories the students shared of how they performed their acts of kindness.

The Five Oaks Academy Kindness Catcher: A collection of stories the students shared of how they performed their acts of kindness.

If your school, team, or group does something similar, please let us know! We'd love to be a part of this wonderful form of outreach!

Spreading Kindness on Earth Day

Here at Raise Craze, we're all about spreading kindness so with Earth Day coming up, we wanted to share some fun ways to spread kindness with the environment in mind. Check out the list below or download the free printable to hand out!

  • Make a toilet paper roll bird feeder
  • Pick up trash around your neighborhood, school, or local park and recycle what you can
  • Help your parents with yard work
  • Buy local honey to support the bees
  • Set up a lemonade stand that helps support a local environmental cause
  • Help your parents remember to turn the lights off when leaving the house
  • Craft a birdhouse
  • Create a card to hand out to friends and family that explains the things outside you’re thankful for
  • Organize a group of friends to lead younger siblings on a nature walk around the neighborhood
  • Go out into your backyard and put together a bouquet of clippings for a friend or neighbor
  • Surprise one of your parents by planting seeds of their favorite fruit or veggie
  • Bring bread to a local pond to feed the ducks
  • Recycle old toys you no longer play with

We'd love to hear your ideas as well!
Be sure to share with us on Facebook.

Who's Writing This Thing?

Hi, everyone! Claire here from Raise Craze HQ in Greenville, SC! I just wanted to take a brief moment to introduce myself and fill you in on the information offered on the Raise Craze blog. I handle the communication side of things - that's right, I LOVE talking about kindness and what makes our company's heart beat. In addition to my work at Raise Craze, I live in Greenville with my husband, J (yes, his name is just the letter "J"). I studied at the College of Charleston, lived in DC for a few years after graduating, and am now back in Greenville with a passion for watching kids learn by serving others.

This is a place where we will share stories of success, highlight different organizations and schools, and offer ways that you can help the kindness movement spread even further. We're happy you are here! Join us as we work to change the way of fundraising by putting kindness back into our culture. Let's do this thing!