6 Fantastic Tips for a School Book Fair Fundraiser

Book-Fair-FundraiserA book fair is an excellent way to raise funds for your school while building community at the same time. Kids always enjoy a book fair, it’s a great way to see new books up close and personal. And while you will get a lot of children that come in and out of the book fair, possibly picking up a book or two with funds that their parents sent with them – the key to making your school’s book fair a fundraising success is to get the students’ entire families and individuals from the community to attend the book fair as well. The more people that attend the book fair, the more books that will be sold, equally a bigger fundraiser return for your school. Read on to learn my 6 tips for making your school’s book fair fundraiser a success!

#1: Get Organized

First and foremost, it is super important to get the book fair organized. Start by gathering a book fair committee made up of parent volunteers. The book fair committee can work with the school’s librarian and teachers to decide on a good part of the year to host the book fair as well as possible themes (read more about themes below). Your committee will also need to work with the librarian and teachers to pick out the best books to offer during the book fair and they will be responsible for assisting in publicizing, setting up and running the book fair too.

#2: Pick a Theme

Instead of simply setting the book fair up in a corner of the media center or school library, give it more personality by completely customizing it with a theme. For example, if your school has an auditorium or gym with a lot of room to spare, consider choosing a Mad Hatter theme. You could set the space up with round tables complete with funky tablecloths, colorful centerpieces and tea for guests to sip as they browse the books. The idea is to make the book fair an event that students will want to bring their friends, family and members of the community to. The more people that attend the book fair, the higher the dollar amount for the school at the end of the fundraiser.

#3: The Perfect Invitation

In the past, there have been many school book fair’s that I wasn’t even aware of. Mostly due to the book fair flyer getting smashed to the bottom of my son’s backpack or even worst lost in the abyss he calls a locker! A great way to ensure that the families of all of the schools students are aware of a book fair, is by formally inviting them. It would be fun to send personalized bookmarks with all of the book fair information on it and then giving them to parents at parent-teacher conferences or even mailing them to their homes. If you plan to send the invitations home with the students, you want the invitation to be something pretty and fun – maybe a personalized magnet for their kitchen refrigerator.

#4: Colorful Posters

If your school publicizes your book fair only through the morning announcements or by sending invitations home with the students – you are missing out on valuable customers. Make sure that you have several different marketing funnels set up for advertising the book fair. I am a huge fan of colorful personalized posters – they can be hung anywhere, come with fun graphics and look great hanging in the classrooms, halls, media center and cafeteria. They can even be given to local shops, grocery stores and medical offices. Just make sure they are hung at eye level for the kids to see and in high-traffic locations.

#5: Host a Special Event

While your Mad Hatter book fair will be much more fun than a traditional one – it is still important to host special events during the book fair week. For example, why not host your school’s ice-cream social or meet and greet during the book fair. If your school has a parent-teacher conference, theatrical play, or sporting event that will bring a lot of people to the school – host your book fair at the same time. For parents with younger children that need a break, you could set up a craft station near the book fair. It would also be fun to host a raffle during the special event – your prizes could be book gift packs or gift certificates to use at the book fair.

#6: Be Grateful

Make sure at the end of the book fair after the last book is sold, that you thank all of the people that helped to make your book fair a success. I am a fan of personalized gift tags attached to a small gift, it’s a great way to let your volunteers know how much you really appreciate all of their hard work. It’s also fun to invite the students and families back after the book fair to share with them the purchases that the school was able to make with the funds from the fundraiser. It gives them a visual as to where there money and volunteer time helped the school, and inspires people to be a part of the process next time.

YOUR TURN: What other tips have you seen used to make a school book fair a success?

photo credit stock images via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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7 Ways to Turn Your School’s Spring Fling into a Fundraising Machine

Spring-Fling
Springtime is right around the corner and with it comes Spring Fling. Spring Fling is a fun social event celebrated by many colleges and universities. It consists of a series of events organized by different student groups or Greek Life members. The activities range from sporting events to carnivals and usually culminates with a big dance at the end of the day. If your school is planning to celebrate Spring Fling, it is the perfect opportunity to raise funds for your school or a local charity. Doing so is easier than you might think, read on for my 7 favorite ways to turn your school’s spring fling into a fundraising machine this year.

#1: Get Donations

To start, I recommend connecting with local businesses and school sponsors to collect donations. The organizations can either donate funds directly to your charity or they can provide items that will be essential to the success of your Spring Fling. For example, they could donate paper supplies, food, items to give away at raffles or even a space to host the Spring Fling.

#2: Sell Tickets

A great place to internally start to raise funds is by selling tickets to the Spring Fling. You can choose tickets with stubs to be used for a raffle later on in the day, plus they make fun keepsakes. Or, if your school is hosting a carnival as part of Spring Fling, you could sell roll tickets for not only admission but food, beverages or carnival rides or games.

#3: Marketing is Key

A great way to market your upcoming Spring Fling is through goal posters. You can customize each poster to include the name and date of the event, along with the day’s activities and the goal amount that you are trying to raise for your school. Posters can be hung all over the campus and in local shops, inviting students and the community to the big event!

#4: Announce Your Goal

A great way to show students, facility, staff, and the community the amount that your school is trying to raise during Spring Fling is with a giant thermometer. It could be displayed in the main entrance of the campus or outside where everyone passing by will see the progress. Just remember to update the dollar amount as your donations start to roll in.

#5: Special Delivery

When I was in college, a sorority offered a paid gift delivery service to raise funds during Spring Fling. For a certain dollar amount, you could have either a rose, candy bar or balloon delivered to that special someone by a girl in the sorority. You could take this idea a step further and personalize each gift by allowing the person who is sending the delivery to customize a gift tag to go along with the treat.

#6: Silent Auctions and Raffles

Whether you choose to host a silent auction or a raffle is completely up to you. Silent auctions are great for big-ticket items that will be popular, causing a bidding war. Raffles are great because almost everyone can afford to purchase a raffle ticket or two. Both of these activities will equal big bucks for your charity at the end of the event. By using a stubbed ticket for your silent auctions and raffles, you can collect the individuals names, phone numbers and email addresses to add to your mailing list.

#7: Make a Loud Statement

If part of your Spring Fling is a sporting event, consider selling customized megaphones in the bleachers. Not only are they a lot of fun for everyone (kids and adults alike!) but they will yield a pretty penny when it comes to raising funds for your charity. Plus, it’s just a fun keepsake  from what is sure to be a memorial college activity!

How does your school celebrate Spring Fling?

photo image credit Nathan Greenwood via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

6 Simple, Fun Ways Teachers Can Create a Motivating, Inspiring Classroom

Motivating-StudentsGrowing up, my favorite teachers were always those that inspired and motivated me to work hard by creating a classroom that was fun. One classroom in particular belonged to my 4th grade teacher, she was known for making learning fun – that is just who she was. So I was beyond excited when I found out that she would be my teacher that year. She made going to school every day an adventure, as you never knew exactly what she would have up her sleeve.

By taking pieces of a classroom that are typical and giving them a twist with simple, fun techniques, she was able to create a classroom that wasn’t just fun but motivating and inspiring too. Even now as an adult it is a fond memory that I hold dear and think of often when examining my own child’s school experience. Read on for these 6 simple, fun ways teachers can create a motivating, inspiring classroom for their students, I hope it inspires you too.

#1: What’s in a Name?

The first thing I distinctly remember about our classroom that year was the pretty, personalized placecards that were taped to the top corner of each desk. These weren’t your run of the mill name tags, but rather personalized ones that included fun information about each student including our birth-dates. It really made me feel like the desk was my own personal space and it was a great way for my classmates to find my desk easily to leave notes or to find out when my birthday was.

#2: Reading Rainbow

Our teacher was very passionate about reading and she would spend a few minutes every afternoon reading aloud to us. We each had a copy of the book that she was reading so we could follow along. She created bookmarks for each of us that were very much like the placecards on our desks. Again, it was just a little special added treat to have a personalized bookmark with our names that we could use each day.

#3: Make a Goal

Our teacher was very goal oriented and found fun ways to motivate us to reach daily goals. One wall in the classroom was covered in numbered posters, each one contained a different activity that she would switch out each day. Each morning, we would start at the first poster and work our way through the list. We each had a goal poster located at the front of the classroom where we would keep track of how far we made it through the list each day. It was a visual that worked really well for competitive kids like myself, I worked really hard each day to reach my goal.

#4: Kids are Visual

Along with the numbered posters of daily activities were also giant wall stickers that she had made for parts of the schedule that didn’t change from day to day. For example, one of the activities (believe it or not) was to quietly jump on a miniature trampoline for 5 minutes. I remember that being my favorite activity and I was so happy to have the opportunity to do it each day. These fun activities were sprinkled throughout the work posters, giving us a little motivation to work through the hard parts to get to a little fun.

#5: Journal It

Another activity that we completed daily was writing in our journals. Again, these were personalized journals with our name printed on the front. Each day we were to jot down a few memories and over the year we each filled one of these journals with our thoughts. It was a fun keepsake to take home at the end of the year, and my favorite part was our teacher would jot here own little notes into the margin of our entries. For example, when I wrote about how exciting it was to have a new little brother, she wrote how fun that must be for me as a big sister!

#6: Color Their World

For me, the one thing that definitely makes a classroom is the use of color – the more the merrier. I love a classroom that is a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and images that gets the gears in a child’s head cranking! Something as simple as a little color can really boost the moods of the children and teacher alike. I have to admit I have picked schools for my son over the years based on my first impression of the classrooms. To me, a colorful, inspiring classroom is one that I feel will motivate my child to want to learn each day.

YOUR TURN: Are you a teacher or a parent who finds inspiring and fun classrooms motivate your students? How has this been true in your experience?

photo credit stock images via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Creative Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, No Cooking Required!

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St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, which means now is the perfect time to start thinking of fun ways to celebrate. Whether you are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser at your child’s school, having friends over for a fun pot-LUCK, or simply celebrating quietly at home with your children – it’s all about shamrocks, rainbows, leprechauns and that ever elusive pot of gold!

While St. Patrick’s Day is a lot of fun, it doesn’t mean that it has to be a lot of work. There are many fun ways to celebrate this day, from sharing lucky messages and hosting relay races to surprising friends with simple treats and sharing a rainbow with someone you care about. The best part, you don’t have to slave away in the kitchen because my 5 favorite creative ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day don’t include any cooking at all, read on to get started and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

#1: Send a Lucky Message:

Want to surprise your child’s classmates, soccer team or even your co-workers on St. Patrick’s Day? Purchase lucky messages customized with your favorite Irish graphic on the front and your personal message (maybe a sweet poem or fun limerick!) on the back. Then, tie each message to a bag of gold candy or rainbow skittles – leave these little surprises on their desks or tuck them inside their gym bags for a St. Patrick’s Day surprise they won’t forget. In fact, they will think they have been visited by a leprechaun!

#2: Host a Shamrock Relay Race Fundraiser:

St. Patrick’s Day is a great day to get outside to have a little fun under the rainbow. You could host a shamrock relay race at your child’s school to get the kids outside while raising funds to support your school. Before the big day, invite the children to decorate the fence surrounding the sports field with laminated shamrocks and metallic gold and green garland. During the relay event, you could sell green balloons for a dollar, inside each balloon is a surprise note and treat – (remember, to have a jar of push pins for everyone to pop their balloons.) Also, don’t forget to keep track of your fundraising efforts so everyone can see how this fun event is also supporting your school.

#3: Share a Rainbow:

If there is one symbol other than the shamrock that signifies St. Patrick’s Day, it a colorful rainbow. A fun activity to enjoy with your child’s classmates is to create a large colorful rainbow chain to hang from the ceiling of the classroom. Offer rainbow colored slips of paper to each child, let them write their name on along with their favorite poem or quote. Then, work together to create a loop chain by combining each piece of paper to the next. You could even connect all of the chains from all of the classes in the school for a larger than life rainbow chain. It would be fun to take a picture of all of the school children together holding the chain, then give the framed photo as a gift to the principal!

#4: Top of the Mornin’ to Ya:

It never fails, some children will find themselves at school on St. Patrick’s Day morning having forgotten to wear green! Oh no, let the pinching begin! To avoid those nasty pinches, fill a basket full of green ‘no pinching’ buttons or green wristbands and place them in the front office. You can sell them for a quarter to any of the child or staff member who forgets to wear green that day. You could even announce the sell of the buttons/wristbands during the morning announcements or set up a table at the front entrance of the school.

#5: Reading the Rainbow:

St. Patrick’s Day is another great holiday to inspire more reading in youngsters. Get with your child’s teacher or librarian to create a list of 6 books that are St. Patrick’s Day themed. Label each book with a color; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Encourage the children to read all of the books by offering them a pot of gold at the end of the reading rainbow. Every day a child finishes reading one of the books, they will receive a sheet of paper in that corresponding color. At the end of the week, the children get to engage in a St. Patrick’s Day craft using the colorful sheets of paper they have collected. Then, they can turn in their masterpiece for a bag of gold chocolate coins, candy or other small trinket!

What creative ways do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your children and their classmates?

How Your Event Ticket Stub Can Save You Money While Building Your Mailing List

Dance-Party

When you purchase  admission tickets for an event, chances are these tickets come with a stub. The ticket itself is used to gain entrance into the event and the stub is either utilized in a creative way or tossed in the trash. If your organization is tossing the stub, you are missing out a great way to save money while building your client list.

Each  ticket and stub comes numbered  along with an area to customize. If you do not have a raffle or giveaway consider printing lines on the stub for individuals to write down their contact information. Using the ticket stub to collect this information is an excellent way to build your mailing list.  Collecting these stubs will generate a list of people that you can invite to upcoming fundraising opportunities and future events, so you will need to get creative to encourage people to leave you this information.

A great way to encourage people to give you their contact information is by offering a reward when they use the stub or giving this part of the ticket a value. For example, you can alert your guests that they can redeem the ticket stub for a free drink, sweet treat, entry into a  raffle, or a free event t-shirt. If your event is specifically for the purpose of fundraising, you can use the ticket stub to collect the individuals contact information and donation amount.

If your organization is selling tickets for a relay event, you can have the individual use the ticket to enter the race and then use the ticket stub for a raffle at the Family Day Event that the race sponsor hosts after the race. If your organization can offer a chance to win a large prize, it will boost the attendance at the Family Day Event because people love the opportunity to win something amazing!

If your school’s PTA is going to be selling tickets to the upcoming dance, graduation party or art exhibit and can only sell a certain number of tickets due to the size of the venue or chaperone ratios, tickets are a great way to go. You can encourage utilization of the ticket stub by offering students a free slice of pizza, a drink, or party favor bag. This in turn is a great way to keep a record of how many people actually attended the event, allowing you to compare attendance from one year to the next and to adjust and plan accordingly the next year.

Whether you are utilizing event tickets to build a mailing list or to track attendance to save your organization money in the future, they are a great, affordable option that your organization can really benefit from.

 

4 Simple, Wonderful Ways to Personalize Your Special Event

Let's-Party
Whether you are planning a birthday party, baby shower, reunion or wedding it’s essential to make it a personal experience for everyone involved. It doesn’t matter if you have the most amazing party ideas in the world – if you plan a pirate birthday party for a child that has zero interest in pirates, that party will be a flop. The key is to design the event as an extension of the person that you are creating the event for. It doesn’t matter what type of event you are planning, personalization really is the key. Read on for my 4 favorite simple tips for personalizing a special event that everyone will remember.

1. Pick a Theme

Regardless of the event, having a theme in mind is a great place to start. By theme, I don’t necessary mean picking a cartoon character for a children’s birthday party or deciding to throw a Hawaiian style baby shower. Rather than focus on one particular idea, focus on the feeling you are trying to convey. For example, if you are going to be throwing a princess party for your daughter’s 5th birthday – skip the traditional Disney themed paper goods and party balloons and decorate your living room or backyard to resemble a castle or enchanted forest. Another idea is if you are hosting a school reunion choose a movie theme – ask each guest to dress up as their favorite movie star from that year. You can get your guests excited by using movie tickets for the event invites, and carry that movie star theme throughout the party using matching place-cards, popcorn bags, miniature candy bars with personalized wrappers and you could even give out drink tickets too!

2. Simple is Best

After you have picked a theme, I recommend choosing a particular area to decorate for the event. If you are hosting the birthday party at home, skip decorating the entire house with streamers and balloons and stick to a centralized location where you can get really creative. For example, if you are hosting a fairy birthday party, use fabric and craft paper to transform every day household items into toadstools or trees. Have your child pick their favorite woodland stuffed animals to place throughout the scenery and utilize items that you already have at home. It’s amazing how a simple dark bed-sheet with a slit cut down the front, hung from the ceiling can automatically become a cave in an enchanted forest that little ones can climb inside of!

3. Food for the Mood

I am not a fan of traditional party food – I really like to personalize the food to fit into the theme. For example, several years ago I hosted a bug and reptile party for my son and instead of simple stacking sandwiches on a plate, I ordered a 5 foot sandwich that I cut and arranged to look like a snake – complete with olive eyes and a red pepper strip for a forked tongue. Not only were the children completely smitten with the snake sandwich, the parents raved about it for weeks to come whenever they would see me! The idea is to take ordinary food that your guests will love and display it in a fun, new, creative way.

4. A Thank You is Worth a Thousand Words

Even though an event is created to celebrate a particular person, couple or group – I like for the guests to feel important and go home with a reminder of the event. I always send each guest home with a personalized gift that fits well into the theme of the party. I also take careful consideration when it comes to party favors to pick something that my guests will actually use or consume. Many times this will mean that I send them home with a personalized treat – for example a bag of caramel corn complete with their name printed on the outside of the package. Or, at my wedding, I picked a hardbound book for each of my guests and left them a handwritten message inside the cover thanking them for celebrating this special day with myself and my new husband. They were a huge hit and people still talk about them 15 years later! You could also personalize a bottle of wine for each member of your wedding party – as a thank you gift.

Image credit DigitalArt via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Use Goal Posters to Motivate Yourself and Your Team

Happy-Children

Can you believe we are almost a whole month into the new year? Are you and your team still on track to reach all of those goals that you made? If you are having a hard time staying motivated to reach those goals or you have a team that is floundering – you may want to consider adding goal posters to your motivation tactics.

Goal posters are fantastic for both personal and work specific goals and you can use them in a variety of ways.  For example, if you are running a local animal shelter that has a goal of placing a certain amount of dogs and cats into new homes this year – a goal poster is a great way to lay out those goals in a visual form. Our goal posters come in a set of 10 so you could give each member of your team or volunteer staff a poster. Then, let them have the creative freedom to customize it with 5 things they would like to do to help the animals find new homes this year. When they are finished, they can place the posters throughout the shelter as a daily reminder of these goals and mark off those goals that they reach throughout the year, celebrating those achievements as a team.

Another idea is for sport’s coaches and team captains to utilize goal posters to individually motivate the members of their team. The posters can be personalized with your team’s name and photo for that added fun touch! Then, you can give each team member a goal poster to add their own sports related goals to, then help them choose a reward they will receive once their goal is hit. Whether their goal is to practice basketball for 1 hour each day, practice their swim strokes or complete 5 marathons this year – a goal poster can really motivate and remind them of their progress. They could hang the poster inside their gym locker or you could even line them up on the wall inside the gym where they will see them everyday as they practice their sport. It’s a great visual reminder of their goal and their teammates can congratulate them when they reach their specific milestones.

The idea is to let each individual choose their target goals, encourage them to write them down on a goal poster as a daily reminder of what they want to achieve. Don’t forget to verbally motivate and congratulate them on the progress! It’s a great way to boost morale and feel more confident about achieving their goals too. It is even more exciting when they reach those milestones since those around them will see their goal posters, the achievements they have made and can join in on congratulating them on their success which in turn motivates them to work even harder and set more goals for the future!

5 Super Sweet Ways to Use Gift Tags as Valentines

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, making now the perfect time to start getting your valentine’s list and ideas together. I am a huge fan of valentines that don’t require a lot of time or energy to put together. However, I am looking for valentines that aren’t only simple – they need to be cute, fun and memorable.

This year I was also looking for fun valentine’s not only for my son’s classmates and teachers, but valentines that could double as a sweet surprise for my own child and husband. I also needed to come up with a valentine idea that could be used at my son’s school dance to raise funds for their class trip.

I immediately thought of adorable gift tags – not only are they completely customizable, but I love the generous size, affordability (40/$15), versatility (you can view your finished design before you order) and cute designs too. Here is a peek at how I plan to use these cute gift tags this Valentine’s Day:

  1. Class Valentines

    My son is planning to give a stack of colored pencils to his classmates – by tying them up with a personalized gift tag for each child, the valentine will be more personal and fun!

  2. Teacher Valentines

    My son is giving each of his teachers a hand-painted tote bag complete with supplies for their classrooms. This gift is taken to a whole new level when finished with a personalized gift tag with the teacher’s name on it and a special note from my son.

  3. Secret Surprise

    I love to tuck special surprises into places that my son can find throughout the day on Valentine’s Day. I plan to add a cute personalized gift tag inside his backpack, lunchbox and coat pocket – each tied to a special valentine treat!

  4. Husband’s Need Love too!

    I also love to surprise my husband on love day – instead of giving him a traditional Valentine’s Day card; I plan to surprise him with tickets to a comedy show. I plan to wrap a gift tag around the tickets instead of a card and since these gift cards are a generous size (2.75 “x 4.25”) it leaves me a lot of room to write in a special message to my special man.

  5. School Dance Fundraiser

    My son’s class is raising funds for their end of school class trip. We decided to sell personalized gift tags (we ordered designs that both boys and girls will adore) and tied them to roses and small boxes of chocolate. The children will be able to purchase the treats for special delivery throughout the week of Valentine’s Day and during the dance as well.

4 Steps to Using Fundraising in Your Home or Classroom to Reach Common Goals

How-to-Reach-Fundraising-Go

When you hear the word fundraising – what is the first thing that comes to mind? Usually, you are bombarded with that dreaded feeling that your child’s school is trying to get you sell items to fund a special project or initiative. And while school fundraising does have its purpose, have you ever thought of the impact it could have on your family or students if you used fundraising to motivate them to reach common goals?

I am not talking about selling popcorn to everyone in your office or sending the children door-to-door to sell wrapping paper. I am suggesting that you use fundraising as a way to motivate your family or students to complete desired tasks and reach common goals together as a team. The concept is the same as traditional fundraising, however the objective is entirely different. Read on for my favorite tips for using fundraising to motivate your family or students to reach a common goal and the necessary steps to keep them on track.

1.    Choose Your Goals

Gather your group, whether it is your family or your students and discuss the goals that you want them to reach together. I think it is amazing to choose goals that your group will benefit from now as well as in the future. This is really an opportunity for a discussion – whether your goal is to decrease screen time hours, get more exercise or eat healthier for your family or turning in all homework on time, committing to community service hours or working quietly and independently for a designated time each day for your students – the objective is the same, to reach a common goal that is beneficial to the group as a whole.

2.    Pick Your Prizes

Once your group has outlined the goals that they want to work towards in the coming weeks, it’s time to pick prizes to add a little extra motivation. For family goals, a great prize is a year-end family vacation, a fun item for the home that everyone will enjoy or a joint prize that the family can enjoy together such as an annual pass to the local amusement or water park. For students, one of their favorite prizes includes free time, think a week’s worth of no homework, or a year-end pizza or pajama party. Remember, the prize has to be a big enough deal to your group to get them excited to participate or your fundraising will fail.

3.    Organize It

Once you have designated your group goals and picked the prizes that you want to work towards, it’s important to organize all of that information in one place. I recommend a large dry erase fundraising thermometer that can be placed in a central location where your family or students will see it on a daily basis. If you are setting this up at home for your family, I suggest the kitchen or family room. If you are setting this up in your classroom, then I would position it front and center where your students will see it throughout every day.

4.    Get them Excited!

I recommend gathering your group together at least once a week to add their progress to the thermometer together. Give the children the opportunity to fill the thermometer in with a dry erase marker. Get them excited by talking about how much further they have to go to reach their goal and how far they have already come. Then, discuss ways that they can reach their goal more quickly and ways that have been hindering their success. I also think it is a great idea to keep your fundraising goal at the top of your group’s minds by periodically discussing their progress throughout the week. Also, congratulating them on a routine basis for their progress so far is great for morale. The idea is to keep it simple, fun and at the top of their minds!

How have you engaged a group to reach their fundraising goals – do you have tips you could share? Your comments support us all!

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