The most important people to a successful school fundraiser are the students. As the main participants in a fundraising event, as well as the beneficiaries, students need to be excited about their fundraising efforts. Their enthusiasm will rub off on their families and the community at large. High student involvement will make the fundraiser an event to remember—and everyone will look forward to next time!
Fundraising is an important part of raising money for school activities. With budgets tightening all the time, fundraising is necessary for some programs’ survival. A fundraiser can mean a fully equipped band, or new costumes for the drama department. So many parts of school life are dependent on an injection of funds here and there. In some areas, funding is so tight that a fundraising outcome is life or death for the program.
In one of our previous articles, we already covered the topic of how to get the whole school involved in fundraising; now, we should be a little more specific. Given that student involvement is critical to a great school fundraiser, the question remains, how do you get students involved with and excited about your fundraiser? Good planning, a positive environment, incentives, ownership, and fostering friendly competition are all some things that will help you in your efforts.
One way to encourage student participation is to foster a sense of community within the school. Emphasize the collective goal of supporting the school community, not just the immediate ends of the fundraiser. Communicate what the benefits of this fundraiser are for everyone. For example, if the Winter Gala goes well, the senior choir gets to go to Carnegie Hall and the entire school basks in the prestige. Highlight the positive outcomes of a successful fundraiser for everyone involved.
As with all financial activities, make sure you set clear goals and objectives. Take the time to define the purpose and target of each fundraiser. Break down your goals into measurable, achievable milestones. Also, communicate the specific benefits for students and the school community.
If you include students in this planning process, they will feel empowered. They will have a greater stake in the outcome of the fundraiser.
In one of our recent articles, “The Do’s and Don’ts of Running a School Fundraiser,” we highlighted the importance of effective fundraising incentives and rewards. Nothing is more fun for students than some good solid fundraising incentives and rewards. Create a tiered reward system based on their fundraising achievements. Give individual rewards for top performers but do not emphasize that over group efforts. Have classroom or grade-level incentives for collective efforts.
Choose incentives that appeal to students’ interests and preferences. You can canvass students for ideas or form a committee to brainstorm some ideas. Some popular rewards are school merchandise (think t-shirt or hat with the school logo or mascot), personal merchandise, classroom trophies, candy and treats, class parties, or a field trip to an entertaining place. An incentive can be as simple as a temporary tattoo or extended recess for the younger set, to theme park tickets or travel experience for older students. Get creative with incentives! But make sure they’ll work on your student population. And always include recognition.
Kicking It Off
Have a kickoff event to share details of the fundraiser with the general student body. Once you’ve got students excited, plan some diverse and interesting fundraising events. Be creative here. You want engaging, profitable fundraising activities. Consider the interests and preferences of the student body. Remember to incorporate interactive and fun activities to keep students engaged. Provide students with fundraising tools and ideas to help them get started. Making it as easy and fun as possible to participate will go a long way.
Showcasing successful examples of past fundraisers will inspire participation. Have students who performed well in the previous year talk about their experiences and give tips. Highlight the rewards of fundraising, both for the students personally and for the whole school community.
Encouraging students to feel ownership and pride in their fundraising efforts will help make for a successful event. Provide leadership opportunities for students. Encourage them to take on organizational and promotional roles. Create a student-led fundraising committee and empower their decision-making. As always, recognize and celebrate the achievements of these student leaders. Periodic recognition and encouragement of all participants will keep people excited to be a part of your school fundraiser.
Social Media & Technology
So, you’ve got your ducks in a row, you’ve got plans and participants and everything is lined up. Now is the time to utilize social media and technology, something your students will be happy to help with. Leverage social media platforms to promote your fundraiser. Share success stories and ask families to share them as well.
Social media is more powerful than ever. Create images and narratives—or get students to—for sharing on social media. Use a special hashtag unique to your fundraiser and ask students and families to share to their networks. Have a contest for best ad video for your fundraiser, or most fun image. Find out what social media your students and their families use and tailor campaigns for them.
In this modern age, cash is slowly disappearing. Make donating convenient and accessible by using an online donation platform. Create a QR code that takes donors to a landing page to donate. Take payments via credit or debit card; there are any number of apps that will allow you to process payment.
Streamline your fundraising process by using an online fundraising platform such as ReadaFun. ReadaFun provides everything you need to run a successful school fundraiser. This software will help resolve common issues in logistics, communication, and engagement. You choose your dates, goals, and incentive structure. The program provides landing pages and images and text for promotional messages. Students have their own fundraising page, which tracks and shows progress for participants and families. Payment management using Stripe is included.
Technology makes virtual events possible. Schools can host a trivia night, talent show, or bingo game. Using platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet make events easy to set up. While nothing beats actually being there live and in person, making events hybrid opens up your fundraiser to more participants.
For more on how to incorporate technology into your school fundraiser, visit How to Incorporate Technology in Your School Fundraiser.
Encourage Friendly Competition
Nothing gets students excited more than a little friendly competition. Foster friendly competition among classrooms, grades, or teams. Do not make competition too intense or exclusive for anyone. Create leaderboards to track progress and highlight top-performing groups. Be sure to celebrate achievements and milestones to maintain enthusiasm. Make the experience a positive one that students will remember fondly.
Include Students Every Step of the Way!
As mentioned earlier, when students feel ownership of their activities, they are more enthusiastic. Seek their input and feedback. Their opinions are important. Conduct surveys or focus groups to gather student opinions on fundraising ideas. This may help with the problem of trotting out the old tried and true but very boring fundraisers year after year. Incorporate student suggestions into the planning and execution of fundraisers and recognize them for contributing. Show students that their voices are valued and helpful to decision-making.
One way of including students is to have teachers choose “ambassadors” for the fundraiser to go to each class and talk about it. Hearing details from a peer will motivate and interest students, as well as give participants agency.
By increasing student engagement, you are also increasing learning opportunities. Fundraising teaches students a variety of things, including teamwork and responsibility. Including students in the entire fundraising process has beneficial effects for both the student and the fundraiser. It’s a win-win situation.
At ReadaFun, we are dedicated to making fundraising using Read-A-Thons a successful and enjoyable experience for both schools and students. Our user-friendly platform provides the tools and resources needed to streamline the fundraising process, track reading progress, and facilitate secure online donations. With ReadaFun, PTO and PTA leaders can confidently organize a profitable Read-A-Thon that inspires students, empowers literacy, and leaves their community feeling proud and fulfilled. If you are interested in running a successful Read-A-Thon this year, feel free to contact us today! We would be more than happy to guide you through the process.