For student clubs and teams, trying to raise money for activities can be a frustrating, time-consuming and sometimes-futile effort. And, families and friends often find their supplies of gift-wrap and chocolate bars overflowing.
But what if friends and family could donate money to help pay for student activities and actually get something they want or need in return?
That simple idea led Doug Ehrlich to create a website he hopes will become the model for how students raise funds. At www
.supportourstudents.org, a customer can secure a discounted deal by making a donation to a specific school program at participating schools in Jeffco.
“These businesses, they’re motivating people by their offers to a school program that is frustrated by budget cuts and frustrated by their limited options and the cost of trying to raise even a marginal amount of money,” Ehrlich said.
Ehrlich’s website sends 90 percent of the profit, minus the credit card fees, directly to schools.
It’s a win-win for the schools, for those donating and for the businesses, Ehrlich said. The schools get more of the money raised, those donating get something they want at a discounted price, and businesses get advertising and more exposure for promotional offers.
People who wish to donate visit the website, search the discounts on products or services that come with a donation, then pick the school that the donation will go to. Then it’s just a matter of printing the coupon.
Ehrlich said the idea for the website came during a conversation with some parents from Bear Creek High School, which his kids also attended, about the frustration involved in trying to raise funds for the wrestling program.
“He has this idea about some kind of a Web-based way for people to buy coupons and make money for the program,” said Steve Brudick, wrestling coach at Bear Creek. “In my opinion, it’s the best idea I’ve seen.”
When Ehrlich originally proposed the idea, it sounded too good to Bear Creek’s administrators to be true.
“There was a lot of skepticism, because it was so generous. The question was, ‘What’s the catch? What’s this guy up to?’ “ Ehrlich said. “There’s so much fraud and concern about fraud that something that’s outside of the box was a hard sell.”
So Ehrlich spent his own money to set up the website and began reaching out to companies that would offer the discounts.
“After Bear Creek started seeing actual checks arrive in the mail from donations, all of a sudden it started to gain credibility, and now … there’s been quite a number of donations,” Ehrlich said.
The program has grown from Bear Creek to include Chatfield High School, Evergreen High, Alameda International High School, Golden High, Green Mountain High, Jefferson County Open School and several Boy Scout troops. More than 60 businesses now offer discounted products and services on the website.
Currently, the site is featuring prom offers for discounted dinners, hairstyling and make-up, and limousine services.
Brudick hopes his model for fund-raising takes off and thrives.
“I just feel like it’s a magnificent idea, and it’s really helpful for me and it keeps the pressure off my kids, Brudick said. “You’re not buying 20,000 coupons you’re never going to use or a product you never really wanted.”
Contact Ramsey Scott at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.