Teaching Life Skills Through Fundraising

By Katy Mumaw, Education Specialist, National FFA Organization

We all focus on the logistics of fundraising: the product, price, time frame, pick-up schedules, packets, advertising and the rest of the infinite details. But what do we really want to get out of fundraising? Obviously funds for our programs, but fundraisers are also a great opportunity to teach an array of life skills with immediate application. This article focuses on when and how we can make time for fundraising so that it’s not just a task to check off the to-do list.

Laura Ringler, agriculture educator at Plymouth High School in Ohio, believes fundraising is a great opportunity to instill many life lessons and values in her students. She prepares her students by exposing them to sales presentation examples and allowing them to be a part of many decisions around the fundraising activity.

“In agricultural business, I have the different companies come in and present to the class about what sets their product apart from others. Students evaluate the different presentations based upon the bottom line of business and agricultural sales tactics such as product knowledge, exciting and personable presentations,” she said. This helps her students prepare to sell the product.

Once the product they are going to sell is selected, she takes time in the classroom to explain why procedures are in place and their importance to a successful sale. This helps everyone get on the same page and allows students to ask questions and practice their ‘sales-pitch’.

Ringler believes it is important to have an awards system in place for each fundraiser. “It is important to set the sale up in a fashion that gives students the sense of control and accomplishment while making sure that the bottom line of the sale is not affected,” Ringler said.

By letting the students put their marketing, communication and mathematics skills to use in preparing the fundraiser, it gives the students buy-in and allows them to hone such skills to assist them in future careers. “Fundraising also allows students to set goals for personal and chapter sales, giving students a chance to feel self-worth and personal accomplishment as they earn recognition and awards.”

Before your next fundraiser, take some time and formally position your students for success by helping them develop the skills that they need to be prepared for the fundraising activity. The return on your investment to their leadership development is priceless.

LifeKnowledge has a few lessons that are a natural fit to help train students to be successful in handling difficult situations as well as developing the skills that are necessary to be successful during a fundraising activity.


Lesson Plans


Below are just a few of the LifeKnowledge lessons available to help start the process of teaching the intentional skills students will need during a fundraiser:

  • MS.14 - Developing Goals 
  • MS. 33 - Approaching New People 
  • HS. 22 -Motivating Factors 
  • MS. 42 - Responding to Audience Feedback 
  • HS. 84 - The need for communication to influence others
  • MS. 41 - Forming Key Messages 
  • MS. 43 - Answering Questions from Others 
  • HS.54 - First Impressions 
  • HS.61 - Earning Trust

Premier Leadership Precept: A – Action – Outlined by Laura Ringler

A1.  Work independently and in groups to get things done

Ag Business students work together to design the flyers used to promote the sale and other sales tips. Students also work individually to create potential customer lists.

 A2.  Focus on results

Our fruit sale lasts three weeks.  Each week students bring in money and orders. This allows classes to chart their current class and personal progress toward their goals.

A3.  Plan effectively

A successful sale requires extensive planning, from determining what items to sell, what prices to sell them at, and how to best advertise. If effective planning is not in place, the students’ skill development and program budget will suffer.

A4.  Identify and use resources

Students are given one day in class to “look up” potential customers. They are encouraged to sell to family, friends and neighbors. They are also encouraged to ask business individuals in the community to purchase fruit for a holiday gift for their patrons.

A5.  Communicate effectively with others

In order to make a sale, students must first communicate with their parents and the individuals they are selling to. They must also make sure signs and all other public relations materials have the appropriate contact and sales information.