School fundraisers play a crucial role in bridging the funding gap, but they can be challenging to organize and execute, especially for parents who often have limited time to dedicate to them. Fortunately, there are many resources and technologies available that PTA/PTOs can use to increase the impact of their fundraisers while minimizing the time commitment required.
Different resources should be utilized for different types of fundraisers. Some fundraisers are passive, which means supporters can raise money for their school by doing what they normally do. For example, schools can set up affiliate partnerships, where they encourage parents and supporters to make purchases from particular establishments, and in exchange, the school receives a portion of the proceeds. ShopRaise is a technology that can facilitate this. They partner with various stores and businesses, and as long as parents and supporters make purchases using their app, the schools automatically receive a share of the proceeds.
Other fundraisers are active, which means that PTA/PTOs directly plan and execute them, and all the proceeds go to the school. An example of this is a Read-A-Thon. In Read-A-Thons, students read as much as they can over 2 or 3 weeks and ask friends and family to support their reading goals by making donations to their school in their name. There are different technologies that can be useful before, during, and after the event, so we’ll highlight some that can be leveraged in each step.
Before the event begins
To ensure that parents and students are well-informed about the fundraiser, PTA/PTOs will need to communicate to them when the fundraiser will be held and how they can participate. Typically, this is done by creating posters or flyers and placing them in and around the school. DesignCap or Adobe Express can be of help here as they both offer free templates that can be used to easily create stylish designs.
If the event involves a sign-up process, providing a step-by-step guide can help avoid questions and confusion. ScribeHow is a useful tool that can transform the sign-up instructions into a carousel of screenshots, making it easier for participants to follow along.
During the event
If the event involves tracking student activity, such as monitoring the time spent reading during a Read-A-Thon, PTA/PTOs will need a system for students to record and submit their progress. While paper logs are an option, using an online platform like ForOurSchool.org can streamline the process. They also offer leaderboards, unlockable badges, and personal donation pages, which can maintain excitement throughout the entire event.
If the school instead plans to host a Math-A-Thon, ForOurSchool.org can be a solution there as well. Math-A-Thons are similar to Read-A-Thons, but involve answering simple math problems. Their Math-A-Thon platform follows the New York State math curriculum and is completely free for schools to use! Many schools are now choosing to host Math-A-Thons over their summer break to help combat the summer slide in a fun and competitive way.
After the event ends
Recognizing students’ efforts is essential for fostering a sense of accomplishment. While small prizes are often distributed to top achievers, receiving an award that acknowledges their accomplishments can be equally rewarding. Platforms like Banner Bear and Coast provide free award templates and generators that can help create personalized awards.
About the Author
Evan Appleby: Founder and CEO, ForOurSchool.org
Evan Appleby is a father of two fast-growing daughters currently in elementary school. When he and his wife, Rachel, were tasked with running the Read-A-Thon for their daughters’ school, they decided to take a different approach. Instead of using one of the platforms online that take a portion of the donations, Evan built one himself and made it available to the school for free. The site is called ForOurSchool.org, and it was a resounding success! The kids loved it, and the school actually saw a 50% increase in the amount donated (not to mention the thousands they saved by not paying for one of the platforms). Now, the platform is free for all schools to use, ensuring that more money stays with our kids.
Before starting ForOurSchool.org, Evan built PubExchange, a platform that helps publishers find sites to partner with so that they can promote each other’s content and send one another an equal number of visitors. PubExchange is used by hundreds of sites with billions of content recommendations served every year.
When he’s not building platforms, you can usually find Evan on a basketball court or volunteering at his daughters’ gym classes.