So, you’ve decided to put on a school fundraiser. Now, here is the important question. What is the best way to promote a school fundraiser? How do you get the word out to families, friends, and the community?
You’ll be working with a mix of people: parents, teachers, community leaders, and students. Each group has special qualities to add to your promotional efforts. Be sure you brainstorm ideas for utilizing the strengths of each group. You will be able to use traditional promotional methods and the internet to get the word out quickly.
Traditional Promotional Methods
Posting signs, flyers, and posters around the school and community is a traditional and effective way to inform people about your fundraiser. Sometimes you can even get promotional materials donated by a local business. Many businesses, libraries, and even other schools are happy to help by putting up a poster or sending out information in newsletters and emails. You may also want to promote your upcoming fundraiser at current fundraisers – matching gifts is a terrific way to make donors feel like their dollar is going a long way.
It is very important to promote your school fundraiser well ahead of the event. Use your website, email, and other marketing materials to their best effect. Having good graphics is very helpful as people pay attention to exciting images. Add a map image along with the address to your flier so participants can see the location and nearby parking. Adding landmarks is also an excellent idea.
On your website, make sure your event page has all the information needed for the event. Participants need to know what to expect. Use a map widget on the event page to make it easy for people on their computers or phones to look up the location. Answer the traditional questions of who, what, when, where, and why. Add how with a fundraiser URL or link to an online order form. Make all information as shareable as possible so participants can easily share it on their own social media.
Don’t forget to use local news outlets if you can. Getting a mention on the evening news can make more people aware of your fundraiser. Everyone likes a positive news story and your fundraiser can help with that!
Using the Internet
Using email and social media makes sharing information easier than ever. Make sure your organization decides on a cohesive approach toward sending out information. Getting a couple of people to volunteer for the social marketing team is a good idea. Automate as much of it as possible and use the participant’s desire to do well to keep the momentum going. Coach parents and friends through how to best use their contacts and social media. Chances are, everyone uses either email or one of the Big Four (Meta, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter) of social media. For those few that do not, posters and flyers are the way to go.
In this day and age, schools rely on email to communicate with parents. Make sure your emails are professional and informative. Include contact information for your group so that people with questions know how to get in touch. Encourage parents to share the information and attached flyers with their contact list.
General Social Media Tips
Always ask followers to repost and share with their own followers. Follow as many parents as possible and like and share their pertinent posts. Always state the fundraising goal and post periodic updates about progress. Encourage parents to share the same. Ask parents to share across all of their social media channels to maximize exposure.
Use Hashtags. Hashtags help make topics, or keywords, easy to find. If your parent group does not have its own list of hashtags, take a look at Best Hashtags for ideas. Search for #schoolfundraiser to see what tags are the most popular. Make a list of hashtags to share with participants and ask them to tag their own posts with them.
Just like with the fliers, use a colorful image or even a video to illustrate the fundraiser. Show what you are selling. Post a picture of those delectable cookies you’re offering or a video of kids reading books for a read-a-thon. You might also include a picture of what the fundraising efforts are for, such as a new shelf of books for the library or playground equipment. A picture does indeed speak a thousand words.
Remember to share the fundraiser URL or order form link. Most programs have student pages parents can share every time they post about the fundraiser. Remind them to include the school’s goal and keep their friends and family posted with progress updates.
Most fundraising companies have sharing tools. They make it simple to share student fundraising pages. They will often have product photos, sample posts, and other handy aids. Tell parents where to find them and how to use them.
Contests and giveaways are also fun. Posting a question and selecting a winner from the respondents is a great way to increase clicks and comments on your posts, which increases visibility. You might give away samples to creative students who post funny sales videos. Offer a prize for the five kids who raise the most money – like a limo ride or something else they wouldn’t ordinarily experience.
It gets a little tough to manage several social media accounts. Think about using a social media management tool. Buffer is free for up to three channels, while Hootsuite, Loomly and SocialOomph offer free trials. This enables you to write posts ahead of time and schedule when they will go out. There are optimal days and times to post on social media for maximum visibility.
Remember to say thank you to donors, participants, sponsors, attendees, parents, and volunteers! Announce the results of your fundraiser and congratulate winners of contests and top earners if your fundraiser is set up that way. And of course, post when the project you raised funds for is underway or completed so that everyone can see the results of their hard work.
Meta (formerly Facebook)
Parent-Teacher Organizations can use Meta groups or pages to keep parents in the loop. Post the details of your fundraiser: goals, deadlines, times, URL, locations, and contacts–whatever you think parents ought to know. Pin this post to the top of the timeline where parents can easily find it. Meta is also terrific for letting parents know when catalogs are going out or order forms are due, as a back-up to sending notices home or emails.
Remember to use media such as photos and video clips. Images get more likes and shares than text-only posts. Videos are even better. Live videos get the highest engagement level with six times more interactions than regular videos.
Tag people on Meta to show information to them and their friends. Do not go overboard with this technique, but it is useful for increasing exposure.
Instagram is very popular and will reach a wide range of people. Make your photos on Instagram stand out with filters, quotes, text, and hashtags.
Encourage parents to use Instagram filters on their photos. Filters enhance the colors and moods of photos and increase engagement. Text overlays, as long as they do not completely hide the photo, also add interest. Create a suitable quote image to share and encourage parents to pass it along. (The app Canva is good for this).
Create a list of hashtags to use. Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags, but you will only need 5-10. Put hashtags in the comments. You don’t want hashtags to distract from your message.
Liven up your captions by using humor. Entertaining or call-to-action captions work well. Remember that only the first three lines of your caption will show up. Use the most important keywords toward the beginning of your caption.
If you need to include a link, post it in your bio and direct parents to look for it there by using the phrase “link in bio” for the URL.
One way to get likes, comments, and shares is to hold a contest. If you are selling food, post a photo of a sample and draw a winner from those who like and share or tag friends. For example: “Oatmeal cookies or chocolate chip? Tag a friend in the comments for a chance to win!”
Create a countdown timer in Instagram Stories for your event. Take a photo or video and click the sticker icon (a smiley face with a folded corner). Click Countdown Timer. Click Create the Countdown Timer. Type in your title name and click on the numbers to add the date and time. Toggle All Day on and off to set the exact time.
Post a video as an Instagram story. Add your video to your story highlights where it will show up underneath your profile photo. Use Boomerang to create GIFs that loop forward and backward. Instagram stories are shareable to Meta if your accounts are linked.
Many people are very active on TikTok. Taking part in trends and challenges is a tried-and-true way to engage with TikTok. Videos do not need to be polished or fancy. If they look like they were filmed on a handheld phone by a participant, they will do well on the platform.
Encourage participants in the fundraiser to video themselves doing the activity for your fundraiser. For a read-a-thon, a student could make a tower of the books they’ve read. Show clips of last year’s jog-a-thon. Post of video of making cookies for a bake sale.
As with Instagram, use hashtags. Add a music clip to further enhance your TikTok.
Use hashtags. Twitter created hashtags to make posts searchable. Don’t go overboard, just use two or three hashtags in a tweet. Parents can use your group’s “official” hashtag for the fundraiser and add their own tags as well to personalize their tweets.
Remember to be as succinct as possible. Everything you put in a tweet counts as a character–including spaces–so don’t go overboard. Do share links to fundraising pages, Twitter will shorten the URL for you.
Use Twitter to update followers on progress or “Live Tweet” your event. Make sure your participants are following your group’s Twitter handle. Encourage them to retweet your posts. When they do, be sure to retweet them with a #thanks or #shoutout.
Nowadays, it is easy to get fundraising information out efficiently to parents, teachers, and participants. Traditional methods of posters and flyers are good for around campus, sending information home, and at in-person events. Emails and social media are great for getting the word spread to the community. Using the Big Four (Meta, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter) of social media takes a little time to master, but is worthwhile.
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.