How To Afford An Author Visit
An author visit can make a huge difference in a child’s education and their presentations can complement school curriculum, inspire children, and even supplement the lessons being taught by your school’s teachers. But authors don’t work for free, so how do you afford to pay for visits when budgets are squeezed?
I’m here to tell you that there are ways to gain the funds you need so that your school can invite authors to come visit. The best way to take advantage of all the funding options below is to plan ahead! If you schedule your author visit a year in advance (or even six months), you will have time to explore multiple fundraising options to determine which is right for you.
I’ve listed some ideas on how you can raise the funds for an author visit below. Some are interactive (bake sale, penny drive, etc.) and some are grants you will need to research and apply for. The bottom line is: there IS money available to you - you just have to do a little work to make it work.
Grassroots (hands-on) funding
Read-a-thon - This is a fun way to reinforce literacy. Send home pledge sheets and devote an entire day to reading, exploring your school’s media center, writing, reading aloud, etc.
Bake sale - Why not have parents donate baked goods and set up a table during car-rider pick up time at the end of the school day? That’s an easy-and-quick way for parents to grab their kids an after school snack! Don’t forget to advertise!
Snack cart - Kids love snacks! Parents could donate snacks (pre-packaged cookies, candy, slim jims, bags of chips, capri suns, etc.) and a parent or PTO volunteer could man the “snack cart” on Fridays during lunch. If all snacks are $0.50 or $1, then that makes it easy for parents to send in some spare snack change.
Wish list - Add sponsorship opportunity to your school’s website so parents/donors can give toward your author fund.
PTA/PTO - Ask your parent-led organization to sponsor an author visit and let them assist in fund-raising.
Local business sponsorship - Many times local businesses will be more than willing to help out with events that promote community engagement and/or literacy.
Penny drive - Get the students involved in donating their spare change to bring an author to visit your school. There could even be prizes for the classrooms that donate the most (special lunch with the author, Friday pizza party, free ice cream, etc.).
Car wash - Have a weekend car wash where all proceeds go toward your author fund..
If your school qualifies for Title I status, then your school may be eligible to use some of that funding for special programs like author visits. Find out more on the U.S. Department of Education page.
Many authors (like me) will offer a reduced rate if multiple schools in the same general area would like to combine expenses. The key here is to do your homework. Find other schools that may want to collaborate and then reach out to the author with your proposal.
When looking for funding, you need to be creative. This money is not only used to support visiting authors, but it also enriches the lives of school children by giving them a personal connection with the books they read. Author visits are a win-win for your school… a face-to-face meeting with a professional is an inspiring experience for children.