How to Make Your Yearbook a School Fundraiser With No (OK, Maybe "Hardly Any") Effort

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You can turn your yearbook into a school fundraiser without doing a bunch of extra work. All it takes is a different approach to raising money.

That might sound overly simple, but it’s true. You can skip the local business ads, the graduating student dedication pages, and the tiered pricing structure that so many other school yearbooks use to turn a profit. Sure, they might all work, but they also require a bunch of extra time and effort. And come on, who’s got time for that?

There’s a better way: Negotiate a better price with your publisher but keep your sale price the same.

The goal is to eliminate all the extra work traditional fundraising takes and to keep your parents and school community from having to spend extra money to buy the yearbook. And here’s the best part: You don’t even need to be a shrewd negotiator or a bloodthirsty capitalist to pull it off.

school fundraiser template

If you’re nervous about that, though, keep reading. Because we’re about to walk you through what you need to consider before you start running with this school fundraiser idea and how to actually pull it off.

What to Consider Before Using This School Fundraiser Idea

Your yearbook can’t reach its full potential as a school fundraiser unless it’s a debt-free operation.

That might sound obvious, but any money that you’re giving your yearbook company—aside from the money you collect selling yearbooks—is money that’s limiting how much you can raise for your school.

(Quick aside: If you’re using a traditional yearbook company, this can get outrageously complicated. You might want to try our “true cost calculator” to better understand where you’re at.) 

In the end, though, you want one thing: Your balance sheet should end with $0.

The benefit of this is two-fold:

  • First, your yearbook’s financial health has all sorts of implications. If you’re spending more to produce the yearbook than you’re able to collect from your students and parents when you sell it, somebody’s gotta make up that difference, right? The realization that your school is footing the bill with money that could be used to benefit the students in a bunch of other ways is never any fun. But it’s good to know. That way, you can fix it.
  • Second, if you’re “all square” with your finances, you’re now in a hugely better position to turn your yearbook into a school fundraiser. You don’t need to start doing crazy amounts of math just to figure out how you’ll break even. Instead, you can do much simpler math to figure out how many fundraiser dollars you can realistically make off your yearbook.

That second benefit is huge. And that’s the one you need to focus on when actually setting your negotiating goals. Getting a sense of how much you can possibly raise for your school lets you know how much of a discount you should ask for.

(By the way, if you don’t have a balance sheet and you need help planning out your goals, use this template. It’ll walk you through doing all of that.)

Of course, once you’re through this part of the process, you still need to get that school fundraiser in order. Let’s get on with that part, shall we?

School Fundraiser Step #1: Negotiate a Better Price with Your Yearbook Publisher

Ask your yearbook company for a better deal.

Really, that’s the biggest part of this whole process. And if you’re a confident person, this is probably no big deal. (Heck, if you’re that confident of a person, you’ve probably already picked up the phone, called your publisher, and asked them to give you a better price than you currently have.)

Here’s the thing about asking for a better deal, though: You stand a way better chance of getting what you ask for if you go into it with your homework done. Sure, it takes a little bit of time, but doing your homework will help you skip a bunch of potential pitfalls.

Here are three big ones that immediately come to mind:

  • You have no idea whether the discount you’re looking for is a fair deal, so you’re stuck without a gameplan when your current yearbook company doesn’t immediately say yes. If they do immediately say yes, you’re stuck wondering if you could’ve gotten a better deal.
  • Your current yearbook company says, “No,” and you’re stuck wondering what to do.
  • Your current yearbook company says, “We can give you a discount, but not that much,” and you’re stressing about how to make up the difference.

Suffice it to say, none of these scenarios are fun to deal with. Skip them. Plan instead.

Start your negotiating process by planning the amount you want to make from your school fundraiser:

school fundraiser, screenshot 1

Then, take your average number of books sold over the last couple of years (so you have a conservative idea of how many you’re likely to sell), and divide that into your goal fundraising amount.

You’ll end up with the amount of fundraising dollars you need to make off each yearbook. So your calculations should look something like this:

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 2.47.16 PM

Fill in your current book price and subtract your fundraiser-per-book amount to determine what you need to be paying per book to meet your goals.

school fundraiser, screenshot 3

(By the way, if you use our free template, it’ll automatically calculate a lot of this stuff for you.)

Now that you know what you need to make your yearbook a successful school fundraiser, start doing some research. Googling “yearbook prices” is a good place to start, though you could just as easily call a bunch of yearbook companies if you know of a few and have their contact information.

Gather your price quotes, compare them to your the new book price you got from your fundraiser calculator, and assess where you’re at.

  • If companies gave you that price (or a better price), you’re in great shape. You could easily switch companies or, if you prefer to stay with your current yearbook publisher, you could ask them to match their competitors’ prices.
  • If you can’t get a price that’s as low as you need, you may need to reconsider your school fundraiser goal or find other ways to raise the rest of the funds.

Caveat here: If your new per-book price requires you to commit to a certain number of books, run that new price and new number of books through your balance sheet. You still need it to end with $0. If it doesn’t, you’re right back where you started.

Otherwise, pat yourself on the back. The work is done.

School Fundraiser Step #2: Keep Your Sale Price the Same

There’s pretty much nothing to do here. Seriously. You’ve done all the work. Just keep selling and marketing your book like you did in the past, so you can make that fundraising money.

One thing to consider here: You may want to start telling your parents and students that the yearbook now doubles as a school fundraiser. If you think your community would really like the fact that you made the change, it could help boost your sales.

Regardless of what you decide when it comes to communicating the fact that your yearbook is now a school fundraiser, you can use these tips to make sure you raise money for your school while still keeping the price your community pays for the yearbook the same. And it’ll hardly take you any work.

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