When I was in school, we were tasked with going door-to-door to sell things such as popcorn, wrapping paper, or candy to raise funds. Yesterday, a middle school student knocked on my door asking for a donation toward her school — with no benefit to me at all. She wasn’t selling anything and I did not receive a discount card, raffle ticket, or any reward for my contribution. All she had to promote her cause was a copied flyer where I could write my name and donation amount.

There was little incentive for me to donate (even though I did) but what got her calling on neighbors was the promise by the principal that he would shave his head if every student raised at least $100. She had amassed $55 already and was determined to see Mr. Thole become bald.

We all know that “buying” that overpriced candy is really just making a donation to the cause. It is far less hassle for the school to deal with cash than ordering and delivering products, and more lucrative without sharing profits with a middle vendor. Rather than an official appeal from a professional administrator, it’s also more powerful to have an innocent neighbor sweetly asking you to help her. And let’s not forget that the “incentive” at the end won’t cost anything either, beyond a can of shaving cream!

Think of where you can create efficiencies, deploy volunteers, and align incentives to motivate others to help you. Raising $100 x 300+ students — all for the cost of black-and-white copied flyers — is a great example of shaving your expenses and maximizing your resources.

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