Whether your school is raising money for a favorite charitable cause or helping one of your own organizations or teams reach their goals, a fundraiser is an effective way to get everyone involved in the effort. A well-organized school fundraiser gets students excited about a good cause and has a positive impact on your school or community.
How can your school motivate students (and parents) to participate in your fundraiser and successfully market your fundraising event to ensure high attendance? Choose a type of fundraiser that they’re sure to enjoy and don’t forget to provide plenty of information on the cause your school is supporting. Let’s take a look at how your school can:
- Get students involved in an event-a-thon fundraiser.
- Incorporate creative fundraising ideas at your event and beyond.
- Incentivize participation with products that show school spirit.
- Encourage participants to maintain their support.
- Keep students and families engaged after your fundraiser ends.
The first step in holding a fundraiser that will be successful for both your chosen cause and your students is to choose one that kids will want to take part in. One fun and effective favorite is the “event-a-thon” style fundraiser.
1. Get students involved in an event-a-thon fundraiser.
If you have never participated in a jog-a-thon, fun run, walk-a-thon or other a-thon fundraiser or held one at your school, you almost certainly know of other organizations that have used this fundraising method. Jog-a-thons, in which supporters agree to give a certain amount per lap students jog, are engaging and easy to host. Your school can adapt the jog-a-thon model to a variety of “event-a-thon” fundraisers that your students will enjoy.
If your school has many student athletes or you’re raising money to fund a team’s travel or expenses, consider incorporating the sports activity. For example, a baseball team may do a baseball hit-a-thon or a football team may do a football lift-a-thon. Sports fundraisers like these promote physical well-being and connect directly to the team’s fundraising goals.
For an update to the event-a-thon that fosters academic excellence and can take place year-round, try a read-a-thon. Students raise money each time they finish a book or each minute they read. You can check out 99Pledges’ list of event-a-thon fundraising ideas to find the perfect fit for your students.
The event-a-thon is well-suited to online fundraising, making it easy for supporters to pledge or donate and fun for students to share their campaigns. To get started:
- Choose software that automatically creates donation pages for your participants. Students and parents can share these pages with their families and friends over social media and via email.
- Boost participation with a little friendly competition. To get students motivated, offer rewards to the student, class, or homeroom that raises the most in donations.
- Track and share their fundraising progress. Use your software’s tracking and reporting features to keep everyone updated and show how close you are to reaching your goal!
Students and parents will be motivated to share their pages and reach your school’s fundraising goal, especially as the concluding event approaches. Fundraising doesn’t need to stop once the day of the event arrives, however! Keep everyone involved with creative fundraising ideas that place your chosen cause front and center.
2. Incorporate creative fundraising ideas at your event and beyond.
An event-a-thon is a great way to get your students motivated about supporting your cause and increase participation as the event approaches. However, your fundraising efforts don’t have to end once your participants have jogged or walked the last lap on the day of the event! Keep students and parents involved in your cause with creative fundraising ideas.
If you decided on a jog-a-thon or another outdoor fundraiser, consider selling food to participants and families once they have completed their activity. To ensure that proceeds go to your cause, ask local stores and restaurants for donations. Parent volunteers may also be interested in providing or selling food for your event.
Other fundraisers can take place throughout the year, keeping your students and families involved with your chosen cause after your event is over. Whether you’re looking for fundraising ideas for your PTA or want your school to partner with a local nonprofit that does great work in your community, families at your school can demonstrate their support and have fun doing so.
- A percentage night at a local restaurant. Partner with a restaurant and invite families from your school to go out to eat there on a designated night. A percentage of each bill will go to your school or chosen cause.
- A food or craft sale. Parents who enjoy cooking or baking will enjoy the chance to sell their food in support of a good cause, whether this is at your event or after school. Have artistic parents or students? Try an arts and crafts sale!
- A school merchandise sale. Give students and their families the opportunity to support a good cause and show their school spirit.
Each of these fundraising ideas can be incorporated into your event fundraiser or take place on its own. A school merchandise sale is particularly effective when combined with your event-a-thon to reward participants and encourage additional giving.
3. Incentivize participation with products that show school spirit.
While the primary purpose of your fundraiser is to raise money for a good cause, it serves another important function in teaching your students the rewarding feeling of working toward a goal. Motivating some students, however, can be a challenge, especially younger ones. Incentivize participation in your school fundraiser by rewarding top participants with school merchandise and prizes.
You can use products as incentives throughout your fundraiser, from rewarding students who excel in their event-a-thon fundraising efforts to selling school merchandise on the day of your event for additional donations. Your merchandise can commemorate the event or indicate who was a top fundraiser.
Merchandise featuring your school’s colors or mascot is fun to receive and appropriate for any fundraiser. If your school partnered with a community organization, you can reflect that organization’s purpose or work in the design of your merchandise.
What products should you offer as prizes? T-shirts are a go-to reward for numerous schools and organizations. Students and parents enjoy wearing them to show their spirit, and they’re highly customizable to suit any fundraiser. Not a design expert? A t-shirt fundraising platform like Bonfire can help you create shirts that students, parents, and other supporters are sure to love.
If your school is partnering with a community organization or other nonprofit, you can encourage further engagement by providing ways for students and their families to stay involved with the cause your school has chosen to support.
4. Encourage participants to maintain their support.
It’s no surprise that your school fundraiser will be more successful when you make it as easy as possible for supporters to complete their donations. The online donation pages that your students share are one way for supporters to make contributions quickly and easily. Strengthen your school’s partnership with your chosen community organization by encouraging additional donations.
Your event-a-thon fundraiser has already taught your students how effective online and mobile fundraising can be when giving information is shared in a clear and enthusiastic manner. Encourage them to keep the momentum going by:
- Following up with family and friends who supported their efforts. Students can encourage the individuals who contributed to their event-a-thon fundraiser to maintain their support by updating them on the organization’s good work or sharing information relating to the organization’s progress.
- Providing them with opportunities to donate at school. Classrooms and homerooms can provide students with a place to donate throughout the school year, or even hold smaller competitions among themselves with a reward for the class that raises the most in donations.
- Utilizing your school website. Ensure that students know where they can donate or otherwise get involved with the organization so that they can continue their support and encourage others to do the same.
Motivating students to give and promote further giving is just one of several ways in which you can ensure that the enthusiasm your students and families have for your cause doesn’t wane after the event.
5. Keep students and families engaged after your fundraiser ends.
One important indicator of whether your school fundraiser was successful is whether your students and their families are eager to continue their support for the cause or even host another fundraiser. Whether you’re fundraising for your school or a community organization, lasting support is central to achieving larger goals.
For students, event-a-thon fundraising platforms often serve as their introduction to online fundraising and the giving process. Keep their enthusiasm going and foster a lifelong interest in charitable giving by:
- Sharing relevant online donation pages. If your school has partnered with an organization, it’s likely they have a well-designed online donation page already set up. Encourage students to share the page and other donation information on social media to increase giving!
- Encouraging them to volunteer. Having students participate in a fundraiser is a great way to introduce them to the important work happening in their school and community. Help them connect with programs at your school or local organizations to identify volunteering opportunities.
- Seeking their input for the next fundraiser. If your student fundraisers made your event-a-thon or another fundraiser a success, ask them to consider and share the reasons they did so well. If you didn’t quite reach your goal, ask them how the fundraiser could have been organized or conducted more effectively.
With preparation, reflection, and engaged students, you’ll be able to build on the success of your initial fundraiser and encourage your students to involve themselves in your cause and others that they care about.
With creative ideas and enthusiastic student participants, your school fundraiser is sure to be a success and help you achieve your goals. Your school will come together as a community and your students will be proud of their accomplishments!
Brad Dowhaniuk is the co-founder of 99Pledges, which provides schools and teams with an easy-to-use, web-based fundraising solution to manage and drive success in Fun Runs, jog-a-thons, baseball hit-a-thons, and much more.