The pandemic has dramatically changed the way that students, teachers, and administrators go about their school day. Social distancing, masks, virtual classrooms, are just a few of the ways this school year looks different from any that came before. There are no shortage of articles discussing the myriad of things we are missing out on and complications we confront.
But as resilient people, we have learned to navigate this new normal. And as we navigate it, many are finding that not all the lessons taught by the pandemic are harsh ones. As Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” As we’re thinking outside the box and taking greater advantage of technology, innovative teachers, coaches, parents, and students are discovering new ways to reach out to their communities. We’ve seen five silver linings to fundraising during the pandemic:
- We learned that we don’t need to be physically together to be there for each other.
We miss being able to gather together physically like we used to. In the place of these gatherings, we are now seeing virtual versions of events. In schools, classes and student organizations are moving online. So are student events and fundraisers. Our students and educators are innovating to bring people together. Using technology to stream or record events allows more of our friends, family, and community to be a part of our student’s special moments. Now grandparents in Florida can virtually attend the school play. The dad who couldn’t get off work can now watch a recording of the science fair. COVID may keep people from gathering, but technology is letting us find new ways to connect.
- We can support each other even if we are geographically separated.
More fundraisers are moving online in response to our current circumstances. A surprising outcome is that many fundraisers have seen the volume of giving has increased since moving online. A variety of factors may be contributing to this trend, including the ease of making a donation online. But another important factor is the ability to reach beyond our immediate geographic community. An on-site fundraiser can only raise funds from people who show up. A door-to-door fundraiser can only reach those households you visit. But an online fundraiser can reach anyone online, regardless of where they live. It empowers our family and friends to support our students in ways they couldn’t before.
- Support is more important than “stuff”.
Along with online fundraising, there is a corresponding need to allow for fundraising that doesn’t entirely revolve around buying “stuff”. Most often a product fundraiser involves making a purchase on site or delivering the purchased item. Rarely do teachers and coaches have the capability to ship items to supporters, and it can be a burden on families to expect parents to do so. So as fundraisers have more dispersed supporters, it becomes important to have options for them to support without sending a physical item. Allowing direct donations is the easiest option. It also has the added benefit of a much greater portion of funds going toward your cause.
However, sometimes it is desirable for students to do work beyond soliciting donations for a fundraiser. Some teachers and coaches feel that it teaches students a good work ethic, while other times there may be learning outcomes tied to participating. In this case, hosting a virtual event can be a great opportunity. Students still have a very active role, but it keeps you away from having to figure out how to ship items.
- But sometimes product fundraisers help us keep our traditions alive.
The flipside to the previous point is that many schools have cherished product fundraisers. Whether it is the fall fruit and nuts fundraiser, the winter Christmas tree sale, or the spring arts & crafts event, sometimes canceling these events can feel like another loss. Many schools have shown ingenuity combining modified versions of these events to keep the tradition alive.
- We can rally to support each other
Typically school fundraisers focus on raising funds from the community to support students in the school. But one of the most noticeable trends in fundraising during the pandemic are the surge of community support funds. Administrators, coaches, and teachers have been going above and beyond to support their students and their families during this trying time. This is particularly notable given the additional stress of educating safely during this time. It is another example of how schools go above and beyond for their students.
The pandemic has been a trying time for the nation, and we are all looking forward to a return to normalcy. But even after we are able to resume normal life, we should remember the silver linings that we learned during the pandemic. With a bit of ingenuity and technology, our school fundraisers and events can include more of our community, and more of our community can support our schools.