Rising costs, declining revenue, and greater student need are three big issues in education according to Education Resource Strategies (ERS) in their publication “The Cost of Covid.” Covid-19 and its aftermath have highlighted how severe the underfunding is in some areas of our school system. Parent-Teacher Organizations have to do more with less and provide for a wider range of needs than ever before. Fundraising has become even more important.
Looking for ideas on how to use technology in your school fundraiser?
Today’s modern world offers far more than the traditional bake sale, product fundraisers, or door-to-door fundraising of yesteryear. Flyers and posters still have their place but are not the only method of getting the word out. Technology has allowed us to reduce paperwork and focus our efforts on promotion online. Using fundraising programs and platforms has made it easier to fundraise than ever before by taking most of the tedium out of setting up sales and tracking orders.
How Can Technology Help?
Common problems school fundraisers face are with logistics, communication, and engagement. Technology can help with all three in a variety of ways. You will work with people from parents to community leaders and need to use technology to communicate. Email, social media, and texting are all resources at your fingertips to ensure everyone involved has all the information they need. Managing logistics becomes much easier once you establish good communication.
The logistics involved in fundraising are deciding who is going to be the lead on your event, finance, and budget reporting, and post-event evaluation. Fundraising software helps you manage finances and budget reporting down to the penny. Using fundraising software also makes wrap-up easier by helping you review the event, note accomplishments, and identify where improvements need to be made. This software streamlines the entire fundraising process.
Using a fundraising program like ReadaFun takes much of the logistics off your hands. 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.
One of the largest challenges a fundraiser faces is communication. Communication with the participants and community is crucial to carry off a successful fundraising effort. Including parents, family, students, community leaders and news media in the communication chain will ensure your event goes smoothly.
Technology provides us with different communication methods to meet our needs. Email is good for notifying and informing people with large amounts of information, is easy to use and keep track of, and is immediate. Texting is also immediate and good for shorter bursts of information. Group texting is helpful for small groups. Social media is excellent for disseminating information far and wide to people who aren’t in your contacts but are in the community network. Social media is the way to go to promote your fundraiser.
Fundraising becomes simpler with the use of technology. In our post-Covid-19 world, virtual events are more popular than ever. People can take part without having to be physically present. Schools can take advantage of this by having a virtual event. Host a virtual event like a trivia night, talent show, or bingo game. Use platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet to bring everyone together virtually or part in-person, part virtually. People will still feel the satisfaction of having taken part, but did so from the comfort of their own home.
Social media heavily supports virtual events. Posting about upcoming events on the big four: Meta (formerly Facebook), Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Encourage followers to share and repost. Livestream the event on your social media platform’s “live” options and YouTube, Vimeo, and Zoom. Training at least one person on your organization’s team to handle live streaming is a great idea, as it presents a slight learning curve.
Other possible online fundraising events are online auctions, virtual walk-a-thons, or raffles. For an online auction, consider using an online auction platform like BiddingForGood or Charity Auctions Today. This allows you to reach a wider audience and accept bids from anyone, anywhere. Host a virtual walkathon or fun run using a platform like Strava or Charity Miles. Participants can track their progress and share it on social media. Donors can pledge money for each mile walked or run. Rafflecopter or RandomPicker are good online raffle platforms.
Online Donation Pages
By using online donation pages, fundraising organizers make their events shareable. Online donation pages also collect and track information to analyze later. By utilizing this modern and easy-to-use tool, fundraisers look professional and streamline the donation process. Set up QR or NFC tags and post them around the school. Send them out in emails and text messages and on social media. Quick Response (QR) codes make it easy for people to scan and save the information they want, too.
Cashless donations are definitely the wave of the future. Set them up by using QR codes or NFC tags. Place posters with the codes around your school, so people can scan them with their smartphones to make a donation. Use payment apps like Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal. This allows people to make quick and easy donations from their smartphones on the spot.
Online Merchandise Sales
Every organization can benefit from online merchandise sales. Why go door to door when you can pass along a link or QR code to take participants to a merchandise page? You can even go hybrid on this one – have a table with examples (or samples!) and the QR code so people can see what they are getting. Consider selling school apparel, tote bags, or water bottles. Use a platform like Etsy or Shopify to set up an online store and promote your merchandise through social media and email campaigns.
Online Fundraising Platforms
Another option is to flat-out use a fundraising platform such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Crowdfunder. These allow you to set a fundraising goal and receive donations from people all over the world if you wish. You set up a donation page and share it on social media, send it out in emails, put the QR code on posters and flyers, or make business cards with the code.
Engagement With Social Media
By using technology in your school fundraisers, you make it easier for people to take part. This leads to greater engagement. Use social media to the fullest to share information and promote participation. Always ask parents and participants to like and share posts and use hashtags to the fullest. Remember to state your fundraising goal and post periodic updates.
Increase engagement on social media by having a contest or giveaway. Post a question and select a winner from those who respond. This will make them feel like they are helping and will increase the visibility of your fundraiser. Get participants to submit funny videos or pictures of themselves taking part. Interview top performers and post the video. Don’t forget to use the hashtags your group has come up with for your activity!
Say thank you to donors and sponsors publicly on social media. Also thank participants, attendees, parents, and volunteers! Use the hashtag #thankyou and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts. This will inspire others.
Different social media platforms are excellent for different aspects of promotion and reaching different demographics. Meta can keep parents and families informed. Post the details of your fundraiser and pin the post to the top of the timeline. Tag people on Meta to share information with them and their friend groups. Stories and videos are also popular. This will increase exposure.
Instagram is very popular with students and will reach a wider range of people. Use filters, quotes, text overlays, and hashtags to make your photos stand out on Instagram. Create a countdown timer in Instagram Stories for your event. The Boomerang app will create GIFs that loop and create more interest. It is easy to share your Instagram post or story on Meta if you link your accounts.
Many people of all ages are active on TikTok. Challenges and trends are popular ways to engage with TikTok. Find a creative way to take part in a trend that promotes your event. Videos that are filmed on a handheld phone by a participant do well on the platform. Add a music clip and you’re good to go! Don’t forget to use hashtags so that people looking for those topics will come across your video.
Twitter is the king of hashtags. They created them to make topics searchable. Create hashtags for your group and events that parents, family, and friends can search for. Make sure participants are following your Twitter handle. Encourage them to retweet and when they do, give them a #shoutout.
Tools like Hootsuite are invaluable. Your social media manager can take care of text messaging, social media, WhatsApp, live chat, and online ads through Hootsuite. It also helps you schedule posts in advance and determine what days and times are best for posting on social media.
Concluding your fundraiser should always involve analysis. Using the tools your fundraising platform provides, you can evaluate individual and group performance and sales. Google Analytics will track things like where visitors to your fundraising page come from – social media, email, or search engine. There is an in-page analytics tool that helps you place a donation or sales link in a prominent area on the page.
Fundraising in the modern era is both more complex and easier than ever. By learning and using technological tools, your organization can streamline the fundraising process from beginning to finish. You can communicate better and faster with more people. Engagement with social media is more fun and rewarding. Your organization will have analysis at its fingertips at the end of your fundraising efforts.
ReadaFun has been running successful online Read-A-Thons since 2012.
We are dedicated to making Read-A-Thon 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.