by Tori Hamby

As fall approaches, students will soon come home with brochures asking parents to help sell gift wrap, cookie dough or candy in the name of raising money for their schools.

Two Huntersville schools are taking a different approach to fundraising – direct giving. Parents and community members give to the school as they see fit, cutting out fundraising companies who receive a majority of the profits from sales.

“We wanted to try keeping 100 percent of the profits this year,” Debbie Wood, Huntersville Elementary School’s Parent-Teacher Association president, said.

Huntersville Elementary kicked off its Making IT Happen Direct Giving Campaign on Sept. 20. The campaign runs until Oct. 1 with a goal of raising $45,500 for this year’s Parent-Teacher Association expenses and a mobile iPad cart, which includes 30 iPads. The iPads will be used as a mobile computer lab for students.

Wood said that more traditional fundraising methods bring in limited money because fundraising companies can eat up profits. A typical fundraiser that involves door-to-door sales typically brings in about $15,000, she said, but the school usually ends up giving a much greater amount back to the fundraising company.

“The profit varies per item, and sometimes you’re only bring in about 40 percent of what you’re selling,” Wood said.

Each family has been asked – but not required – to donate $91 per student. The PTA has also tried to encourage local business or groups to match contributions of individual donors, Wood said.

With this situation, parents aren’t burdened with helping their children collect money and distribute fundraising items to their customers, she said.

The Huntersville PTA provides the school’s families with extracurricular programs such as breakfasts, student recognition assemblies, a father-daughter dance, mother-son day out and field days.

Wood said the PTA modeled the direct giving program instituted at Torrence Creek Elementary School, Wood said.

The Invest in Your Child at Torrence Creek Elementary campaign netted almost $59,000 last fall, Angela Parker, Torrence Creek’s PTA’s vice-president of fundraising, said. Individual donations ranged from $1 to $5,000.

Total proceeds didn’t meet the school’s $65,000 goal, but the school still netted about $7,000 more than the previous year’s fundraiser. About 680 out of the school’s more than 1,200 students participated, with one third-grade class raising more than $4,000.

The money went toward purchasing two mobile technology labs – one to replace the lab removed from the school by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and another that teachers could use in their classrooms. Leftover funds went to reading and math curriculum enhancements, supplies for classrooms through teacher stipends, educational programs and new technology.

Parker said the school plans to repeat the fundraiser this year with a twist.

“We’re also giving students the opportunity to receive a handprint title to be permanently displayed at our school with a donation of $50 or more,” Parker said. “We think it’s appropriate that the students and families who’ve made the school so great leave their mark at Torrence Creek.”

Want to know more?

To find out more about Huntersville Elementary School’s Making IT Happen direct giving campaign, go online to www.hespta-online.org.