By John Gardner
At my first teaching position, I replaced the band director who went into fundraising. My fundraising rep was a former band director. Four years later I left to start a fundraising career. Of the fifteen reps in our ‘District’ — over half were band directors. The company owners were band directors who had broken off from another company run by band directors.
Why so many band directors in fundraising? Because bands are some of the most aggressive fundraising operations, and fundraising companies like those experienced with fundraising to sell fundraising. There were two recruiting pitches that got my attention.
“You know fundraising well from the customer side. Let us teach you the company/sales side — and you’ll be well equipped to talk to people who had the same needs, concerns and time constraints that you did.”
“Come to work for us and we’ll double your income.”
Although the historical trend has been to recruit band directors for fund raising, all teachers have many of the skills sets that make such a transition a reasonable consideration. Here are some reasons teachers and coaches are equipped for educational sales, such as fundraising, school pictures, rings, graduation items, travel and more.
Teachers and coaches…
… are college-trained professionals. Have you ever received grammatically disastrous communication from a college flunkie sales rep? What did you do with it? Or what about someone who used inappropriate language — especially around your students? Educated fundraisers can better relate to educators.
… know when and how to approach teachers. We’ve all had those aggressive arm-twisters who knock on the door during class and expect you to abandon a students to step into your office or the hallway to talk about his product (fundraising, uniforms, etc). You didn’t do it, did you? Neither did I? Teachers/coaches know better – and would politely respect the secretary’s time (or find your schedule on the school website), find your plan period — and attempt to set an appointment with you at YOUR convenience.
… understand school culture. My business partner used to work in a military facility with security to control incoming traffic and to protect valuable, sensitive material inside.
A public school is a moderately secure facility with locked doors, cameras, with controlled access to highly valued sensitive material (aka students) and those involved with them.
Educators understand when it is okay (and NOT) to approach or enter the building or travel the hallways. Others don’t — and those who train them probably don’t.
… respect YOUR time. You’ve met those sales pit bulls taught to latch on and not let go until you give in. YOU know how valuable YOUR time is and you would respect other teachers’ time. Yes you would. And that is why teachers work better with teachers.
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… know how to talk to and motivate students. As a fundraising distributor who has hired sales reps, one of the biggest challenges is to find someone who doesn’t panic in front of several hundred middle schoolers in an all-school fundraising kick-off. And then there are those who can talk, but cannot relate and, therefore, cannot motivate. And a fundraiser without motivated student participants is doomed.
… understand the needs better than non-education competitors. As a teacher, you already have lived the best interest of students. An outsider can suggest a playground as a big ticket item goal for a fundraiser — but you have watched the children on playgrounds. The sales guy can talk about new uniforms, but you have been around the rotting pants and super-stinky old-style uniforms that cook your students on hot competition days.
… are competitive by nature. Ok, all successful salespeople are competitive. Their survival demands it. But if you’re a marching band, show choir or athletic coach — you have already lived in the competitive world. Don’t underestimate your qualifications.
… are already good at sales, even before they realize it. When you think about it, teachers and coaches are already in sales. We have information, motivation, experiences and more — that we know will be beneficial to students. Except for the few students who will naturally jump at the prospects of gaining knowledge, the rest will buy in because you “sold” them the desire and importance of learning. You can do this.
… who get burnt out from the overwhelming paperwork and educational bureaucracy still want to be involved with education. If you have been in education for a while you have seen much change. You’re spending more and more time pre-testing, testing, ranking students, writing individual plans and meeting mounds of increasing accountability paperwork. You’re struggling to teach for all the testing….and it is taking a toll on you. Are you ready for something else?
… want to increase or supplement their income. As with any sales job, the individual determines the income. I don’t do the pie-in-the-sky recruiting and will not paint glossy pictures here. I’ll share more dollars and cents when we talk, or perhaps in subsequent posts. Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to this blog for email notifications.
I left education when my wife and I were ready to start a family. She wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but neither of us liked the prospects of going from two people on two incomes to three people on one. When the recruiter mentioned doubling my income — I went for it.
The best part of my life as a fundraiser is that I seldom missed a T-ball or Little League baseball game, swim meet or concert — all the way through my sons’ education.
When they finished undergrad college, I ventured back into the world of education. I am not rich, but I am debt free and happy. If I was able to do it, you can too.
Thanks for reading,