How School Fundraising Prize Programs Work

There are basically 2 things to consider if you want to know how prize programs work and how students are rewarded for their school fundraiser sales:

1. How Students Are Rewarded:

  • Dollar Amount Sold
  • Items Sold

2. How Prizes Are Won:

  • Cumulative
  • Noncumulative

Dollar Amount Sold
When students are rewarded for the total amount of money turned in the advantage obviously goes to the students who are able to sell more of the higher-priced items out of their fundraising brochure. A prize brochure that uses this format may work something like this:

  • Sell $100 worth of merchandise and win prize level A
  • Sell $250 worth of merchandise and win prize level A + B
  • Sell $400 worth of merchandise and win prize level A + B + C

Items Sold
On the other hand, when students are rewarded based on the total items, the advantage goes to those who are able to sell more of the lower priced items. Here is an example of a typical prize brochure based on items sold:

  • Sell 1 item and win prize level A
  • Sell 5 items and win prize level A + B
  • Sell 10 items and win prize level A + B + C

Cumulative vs. Noncumulative
Another factor to consider is whether or not the prize program is cumulative. In other words, are students rewarded with more prizes as they sell more items or do they only get to pick a prize from the level that they qualify for? Most people may think that the cumulative prize program is better; however this may not always be the case. Here are some advantages and disadvantages that should be considered:

Advantages to Cumulative Prize Programs:

  • Students win more prizes as they reach higher prize levels
  • The perception is that they are getting more so they are encouraged to sell more

Disadvantages to Cumulative Prize Programs:

  • In order to be able to offer more prizes the quality of each individual prize is usually lower

Advantages to Noncumulative Prize Programs:

  • Even though students are only able to pick one prize from the level that they qualify for, the quality of that prize is usually better compared to the individual prizes from a cumulative prize program
  • Students usually get to choose which prize they want from the prize level that they qualify for

Disadvantages to Noncumulative Prize Programs:

  • Students are often disappointed that they get to choose only one prize
  • An extra step is required where the student must mark their prize choice on the order form otherwise a default prize is chosen for them

The Hybrid Prize Program
Many fundraising companies are now combining the cumulative and noncumulative method into one prize program. For example, the first 4 or 5 prize levels may be cumulative and then above a certain point students win only the prize from the highest prize level that they qualify for. For example, let’s say that a student ends up selling 80 items and qualify for level H. What would happen is they would automatically receive the cumulative prizes from levels A through E and then the prize at level H. They would not also receive the prizes from level F and G. Many students like this option because it combines the advantages of both types of prize programs into one.

When choosing a prize program it is important to consider how achievable the prize levels are going to be for your students as well as the quality of the prizes. Because all students should be encouraged to sell, the lowest prize levels should be obtainable. Of course choosing a good prize program is only the first step; consistently promoting it to your students throughout your fundraiser is where you really make your money.

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