My oldest son recently presented me with an interesting proposition.  He sat my wife and I down and proceeded to read from a letter he’d written that outlined, in great detail, all of the reasons he deserved to get an allowance.

His list included several of the chores he already does, and a few he’d start doing in order to earn a weekly allowance.  He knew right where to hit us too, and was prepared to share all the things he would spend his allowance money on. This included things like buying stock (yes…he loves to buy stock) and savings. It was a truly impressive list. But the big surprise came when he announced how much he felt he deserved to earn each week.

“I think all of these things mean I deserve an allowance of $20 each week,” he announced boldly. My wife and I tried to stifle our laughs, and could only reply with, “20 bucks a week? I don’t think I get 20 bucks a week of free spending money.”

I share this story because clearly my son has no concept of money, how much money it takes to run a household, or the true value of money. Unfortunately this problem doesn’t end with the 12-year-old standing at the foot of my bed pleading with me for me to give him money every week.

This same concept happens in our public schools.

Every year in August and September we see dozens of articles, Facebook posts, and news stories talking about how much money our public school teachers spend out of their own pockets in school supplies and classroom materials for their students. Does this result in a mass outpouring of donations to public schools? Usually not. So, where does that money come from? After salaries, facilities costs, and thousands of other expenses are paid for, how do schools actually afford to pay for all of the extra things they do for their students?

When new and innovative programs or tools become available that have the ability to transform the way students are educated, or enhance how communities are informed and involved in schools, where do the funds come from to jumpstart those programs?

“We pay for all of these extra things by dipping into our surplus funding bucket,” said no district ever. More and more often educators find themselves faced with the choice of either using personal funds to cover extra programs or simply not doing them.

But there’s a third option that often gets overlooked. Why not open up opportunities for advertising and sponsorships from local businesses who would like to support education? They are an opportunity to generate extra funds to cover new programs or initiatives…

Before you come up with a list of all the reasons advertising in schools doesn’t work, hear me out. What if I told you advertising in schools already happens, and has happened for decades. Think about the last school sporting event you attended.  I bet there was a Coca-Cola sign somewhere near the refreshments stand.  How about your cafeterias?  What are the chances of finding a Pizza Hut or Subway logo somewhere there.  In every yearbook there are several pages of ads devoted to “our school sponsors”.  These, and dozens of other examples, go to show that advertising is already in schools.  

Think of all the ways you communicate with parents and your community members today. Advertising doesn’t have to stop at in-person signs or printed yearbooks. You get hundred or even thousands of eyes on your website mobile app, social media, online newsletters, and more everyday. Think of the opportunities and extra funding you could build by expanding advertising to your online communications channels.

What if I told you there was an easy way to put unobtrusive and community friendly banner ads on just a few pages of your website to generate hundreds or thousands of dollars in additional funding for your schools?  

What if I told you there was an easy way to let sponsors you choose place ads into your news rotation in your district mobile app?  Maybe I can plant a seed for letting local businesses sponsor your schools through an underwriting program in exchange for a brief mention following your outbound messaging? I’ve even seen some districts sell ad space in their monthly or quarterly newsletters.  

These, and so many more, are all ways you can generate revenue to fund some of the programs you wouldn’t even dream of being able to provide your students. Advertising can be done  in a way that is not only community-friendly, but provides additional value to the parents and families that support your schools.  

As a parent, I can totally get behind the Chick-fil-a cow that comes to every school event, or the local grocery store that gives back to the school of my choice when I shop there.  Does it bother me that they are advertising to me through the schools? Not one bit.  And digital sponsorship isn’t any different to me.  When I think about seeing a banner ad on my school’s website, or getting the occasional underwriting mention in my principal’s email, it only drives home the fact that my kids go to a school that my community businesses care about as much as I do.

If you’re ready to get started now, check out Blackboard’s Community Engagement Solution, which is already designed to help you incorporate digital sponsorship into your communications.

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