Many booster clubs’ annual budgets are fulfilled through student payments and fundraising. Typically, families are asked to make an up front, out-of-pocket payment and to fundraise throughout the year.
The IRS has set high expectations for booster clubs’ fundraising. They require 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to distribute funds equally among all participants. Specifically, no student may be denied the opportunity to participate due to their [in]ability to pay student fees or to participate in fundraising. I explain this in more detail in my recent post, Should Students Who Don’t Fundraise Get to Participate?
What can a booster club do?
With the daunting task of fulfilling your budget, and the inability link student participation with participation in fundraising, you may wonder what CAN you do.
Booster clubs may request, but not require, student payments.
You must cover expenses in order to run your extracurricular program. Most parents understand this, and are willing to do their part. However, many need to be reminded to send in their student payments.
Here are seven best practices in requesting student payments.
1. Request early in the school year. Many extracurricular programs’ expenses are incurred early in the year, long before proceeds from fundraisers begin to roll in. Therefore, it’s critical to get those student payments rolling in early.
2. Beat your competition. Because many extracurriculars need funds early in the school year, you’re competing with your students’ (and their siblings’) other booster clubs for funding.
3. Don’t let too much time elapse before you begin your funding campaign. If you don’t make a clear request and get funds rolling in early, people will assume that things are fine, the budget is met, and their payment is not needed. In most organizations, that’s far from the truth. Many organizations run behind budget, even into the 3rd and 4th quarters of the year.
4. Report overall progress toward your goal. When parents see the progress you’re making toward your financial goal, they’ll often become motivated to do their part. And remember, as booster club members, parents deserve to know how the club stands toward meeting its financial goals.
5. Make individual contact. One of the most effective means of collecting student payments is through individual contact. Divide your roster and assign families for your officers or Ways and Means Committee members to reach out to. Be sure to write a script of key points, and make sure everyone knows what they may and may not say.
6. Don’t be a travel agent for guilt trips. Remember, you are not a collections agency. Don’t act like one.
7. Don’t use threats. Remember, the essence of the IRS is for all students to participate regardless of their ability to make student payments or participate in fundraisers. You may not deny anyone’s participation, and the instructor may not dock students’ grades or hold report cards.
It’s a real challenge for booster clubs to fully fund their extracurricular programs these days. However, thriving booster clubs rise to the challenge through intentional planning, interaction with families, and showing the club’s progress toward meeting financial goals.
The Booster Leader
If you’ve just accepted a leadership role in your child’s booster club and you’re not exactly sure what you’ve gotten yourself into, help is here! My book, The Booster Leader, 35 Leadership Essentials for a Thriving Booster Organization, is the resource you need to guide you along the way. The Booster Leader consists of…
- Thirty-five proven leadership essentials that are quick and easy to implement
- Eighteen inspirational stories that bring the leadership essentials to life
- A twenty-nine point checklist to help you identify risks that may jeopardize your organization if not properly addressed (and the answers to help you resolve every issue!)
Now is the time to start leading your own thriving booster organization. In The Booster Leader, I show you exactly how to do it!
[Reminder]How do you encourage parents to make their student payments?[/reminder]