Schoola Is Like Groupon For School Fundraising

The startup is trying to apply the daily deals model to help schools make up for funding cuts.

Move over, bake sales: The daily deals business is trying to carve out a new niche in school fundraising.

Schoola is a new platform designed for schools to raise money off daily deals from big brands and local businesses. School parents can approach the local businesses they already frequent about offering a deal through the Schoola platform. If the business accepts, it can then determine what percentage of each deal sold will go back to the school--Schoola recommends businesses give back 15%, but says schools have earned as much as 85% of proceeds.

Schoola is a self-serving platform, meaning parents are their own deal-brokers and Schoola doesn't bleed money on salespeople, the way Groupon works. Schoola then takes a 15% cut of what's raised. Since launching last month, it's signed up 10,000 schools who will run deals over the coming months.

Founder Stacey Boyd, a former school principal and CEO of online parenting resource the Savvy Source, says though funding cuts are an inevitable part of the education system--close to 80% of schools in the U.S. have had funding cuts since 2008--schools haven't responded with creative ways to make up the funds.

"Unless you have freezers full of cookie dough you can store, there aren't effective or thoughtful ways to fundraise that both leverage the viral nature of the web and also are in parents' own self-interest," she says.

There are a handful of others who are trying to apply the daily deals concept to schools, most notably MSN Offers For Schools, Microsoft's little-known daily deals service. MSN Offers works a bit differently, with schools acting as affiliates who help market existing deals and get a cut of the revenue. Boyd says the daily deals fundraising model works for everyone because parents get discounts on things they're already purchasing, businesses get authentic cause-based marketing, and schools get funding.

But the daily deals model can bring on fatigue quickly, especially for local businesses. And the whole point of businesses running daily deals is to attract business from new customers, not continue to cut deals for loyal ones. So next month, Schoola is launching a month-long national fundraiser in which larger, well-known retailers such as Walgreens, Shutterfly, Omaha Steaks, and ProFlowers will offer deals with 20% to 50% of proceeds going to the school of their choice, which Schoola says it expects to raise millions for schools.

[Image: Flickr user aussiegall]

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