One of the surprising things that I was unaware of before I started participating as a board member is all the things that are desired for our school, but for which there is no budget. Remember, that budgets are a formal process, requiring oversight and voting by the LSC. Sometimes, opportunities come up that most parents would agree are beneficial to the Newberry community, but for which there is no budget allocated. Other times, the Friends of Newberry have been called on to contribute funds for computer equipment or to host special events at the school. The Friends of Newberry has also provided scholarship opportunities for middle school trips. All of which requires funds.
One of the things that we (the FON board) are on the lookout for is opportunities to raise funds without buying and selling stuff. There are lots of reasons for this- but they mostly come down to two: 1) we don’t have the manpower or space to maintain an inventory and 2) we all have varying opinions about the role and nature of sales-based fundraising in schools (True story: I grew up in the age of fundraising via “Worlds Finest Chocolate” fundraisers… so I know. But I also know that Type 2 diabetes is not something we want to play with.) So I am always on the lookout for fundraisers that do not require buying chocolate and cookie dough, etc.
This summer, I (Chairperson Jessi Bishop-Royse), have been experimenting with Shop With Scrip. I’d heard about it before but didn’t understand what it was. Long story short: you can raise funds for an organization by using gift cards… in the initial interaction, the fund-raising organization gets a % of the sale of that gift card. But if you buy a reloadable gift card and reload it, then the organization also get a % of the reloading value. This is similar to some of the other rebate collecting entities that are out there (like Amazon Smile and Honey).
There is the usual way that people use gift cards- which is to purchase them as gifts. I am planning to purchase a few cards in smaller amounts to keep on hand for kids’ gifts, but I am also planning larger thank you cards for significant people in our life (e.g. assistant coaches, etc.). So, depending on the retailer, 4-10% of the purchase price of one of these cards from Scrip would go into FON’s account (half of which would be earmarked for the family that purchased it).
But then, there is using it in a more regular, intentional way. So, for example, I purchased a few gift cards to places that my family shops at a lot for household stuff (Marianos, Panera, CVS). Marianos’ rebate is 4%, so if I purchased a $100 reloadable giftcard, $4 would go towards my family account’s “earnings”. If I spent all $100 and reloaded it with another $100, then another $4 would go into my family account’s earnings. Its not much… but it adds up. In June alone, with modest use of the my CVS, Panera, and Marianos cards, I have earned $13.25, which isn’t bad (really not bad, especially since I packed them up when we moved to another neighborhood and I have yet to unpack them *yikes*).
Of this amount, half will stay with the Friends of Newberry and the other half can be used for my son Nico’s school expenses. He is about to be in 6th grade- so I am definitely looking down the barrel of $1500+ for the big 8th grade trip to DC. If I could consistently use my gift cards, then I could sock away a little chunk of money to defray the cost of that trip (assuming that the pandemics stop long enough for 8th graders to travel to DC). Or maybe use it for graduation expenses.
Now, the trick is to use it intentionally. This doesn’t work if I forget my cards at home when I go to the grocery. It also doesn’t work if I am not setting it up for regular use in my regular shopping. For example- we just moved… the closest grocery to us was Jewel, but now its a Marianos… so it makes sense that the Marianos card would be my go to card. My process is that I load enough value on the card for groceries early in the week and then go grocery shopping when I need to (using that card). The rebates are captured whenever you load the card.
The retailers participating are well-known: Target, Amazon, Home Depot, Best Buy, Speedway, Southwest Airlines, Apple, etc. A full list can be accessed here: https://shop.shopwithscrip.com/Shop/Product/Browse.
If you decide that you want to participate, send the Friends of Newberry an email (email@example.com). I’ll invite you to participate… you’ll need to make an account, etc. Right now, payments have to come to FON- and then we turn around and purchase the cards and send them to you. Interested parents can submit payment by mailing a check or by paypal/venmo/zelle. We are charged shipping from Shop with Scrip, so in order for this to be a cost-effective venture, we will place and process orders once a month (on the 10th of the month).
Once you have your card in hand, you’ll be responsible for reloading and managing it. This is done on the Shop with Scrip website- each family has a dashboard. From there, you can reload and see account history, etc.
We’re not sure how well this is going to work. We do know that Covid-19 is changing business as usual for everyone. So, our fundraising methods will need to change. If you have questions or concents, please don’t hesitate to email us (firstname.lastname@example.org).