Fundraising for your children’s schools, summer camps, clubs, sports teams, and community activities can sometimes be frustrating. Oftentimes, kids are joining teams and groups to hang out with their friends. It can be hard to keep up with what these programs need to keep functioning the way they do.
Schools and other groups should always be able to host activities and create programs for kids and teens and not worry about the ever-present issue of money. Programs and events do not occur in a vacuum. Yes, someone has to plan and organize them, but there also has to be a source of funds that enables the program to exist at all.
PTAs are always short on time, and raising funds for kids’ programs is hard work. However, this does not mean that the fundraising effort should be abandoned! There are still plenty of strategies you can employ to successfully manage fun and effective fundraisers for youth groups.
When you are brainstorming ideas to boost your fundraising capabilities, you should consider the following tips:
- Host an event-a-thon.
- Maximize the visibility of your campaign.
- Think outside the box with your fundraising ideas.
- Encourage participation by offering incentives.
- Promote your fundraiser with branded merchandise.
If you follow these five simple tips, you will be breaking your fundraising records in no time. Your time is always better spent planning new programming than it is worrying about money.
Let’s dive in and get you as prepared as possible to tackle a new fundraiser for your youth program!
1. Host an a-thon fundraiser.
If you want the best tried-and-true method of fundraising for your youth program, look no further than hosting an a-thon fundraiser. An a-thon fundraiser can be modified to fit any type of event, including a Fun Run, Read-a-thon, Jog-a-thon or Walk-a-thon, so don’t hesitate to make this idea your own.
Try to think about what the children in your group are interested in. If you are a sports team, you can choose an event that reflects the sports league you are a part of, like a hit-a-thon for a baseball team or a lift-a-thon for a football team. Likewise, if you are a school, try to choose an educational or activity based event, such as a read-a-thon.
A-thon fundraisers allow adults to pledge money based on a specific activity the child will complete. These events are truly customizable, but consider the following, most popular events:
- Walk-a-thon. Collect pledges for each mile, lap, or designated distance the child walks. These are a great way to bring the community together and encourage active behavior in children—all for a good cause!
- Read-a-thon. Allow adults to pledge money based on pages read, or books completed, depending on the abilities of the youth group in question.
- Hit-a-thon. This baseball event can be executed in two ways. You can either accept pledges based on the number of hits a child makers out of a fixed number of pitches (i.e. how many balls will the child hit if the pitcher throws 10 balls?) or how many feet away the ball is hit from (i.e. $1 dollar per foot).
- Rock-a-thon. These test how long an individual can stay in a rocking chair. Most rock-a-thons last 24 hours but you can modify the time to fit your schedules—but don’t forget to schedule bathroom breaks!
- Spell-a-thon. This is a great event to encourage academics outside of the classroom. With this event, you collect pledges based on how many words a child spells correctly out of a specific number (i.e. a dollar per correctly spelled word out of 50).
Now, I know what you may be thinking: how am I going to collect and manage all of this money?
You need a software program that is specifically designed to facilitate walk-a-thons and related events, like 99Pledges’ a-thon fundraising website.
This program will create individualized fundraising pages for each child to collect pledges and keep track of how much each child has raised. But don’t forget the best part: it does all the math for you! Say goodbye to frantically mashing buttons on a calculator to see how much each pledgor owes and say hello to automatic calculations!
An event-a-thon is the best and easiest way for you to raise huge amounts of money with minimal effort on your part.
2. Maximize the visibility of your campaign.
Collecting donations, or pledges, is not always easy—but it certainly can be! In your time supporting youth fundraising, it is possible that your campaigns have not performed as well as possible simply due to a lack of visibility or awareness.
It can be hard to promote a fundraiser like a walk-a-thon that relies on individuals supporting a single child’s fundraiser. There can be miscommunications, complications, and simply a difficulty in the logistics of submitting pledges or donations.
If you are trying to support a large program at your school, or enhance the camper experience at your summer camp through the addition of new activities and amenities, you need to do everything in your power to ensure as many people as possible are able to donate or pledge money to your fundraiser.
To accomplish this, make sure you use a digital system that allows you to share individual fundraising pages on social media. Don’t forget to make sure the system will also keep a central log of the donations so you can track the overall success of your campaign as well as monitor the participation and progress of segmented groups.
With tools like this, you will be able to reach remote family members and friends who would not otherwise be able to donate.
Increasing the visibility and accessibility of your campaign will allow each child to share their fundraising page with more people—and raise more money!
3. Think outside the box with your fundraising ideas.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box with your fundraising ideas. You lead a busy life and your children likely do not have any idea how many things you do for them, including fundraising for their favorite activities. Fundraising can be stressful, but you can also have some fun with it.
There is nothing written in any fundraising handbook that dictates that fundraisers cannot be exciting and enjoyable for all participants! To get some additional inspiration for your fundraisers, check out this guide.
No matter which fundraiser you decide to do, make sure the children can be involved and that it doesn’t add a bunch of extra work for you.
Keeping the children involved in fundraising allows them to gain an appreciation for the hard work that goes into maintaining the programs and activities that they love so much.
Whether you are a school PTA in need fundraising ideas, or are in charge of managing any number of children’s activities, you should open yourself up to actually enjoying fundraising. Check out Snowball’s innovative school fundraising ideas for some helpful nudges in the right direction.
If done properly, you can raise all the funds you need for your activities and still manage to create an event that you and your community enjoy!
4. Encourage participation through incentives.
If you have ever tried to host a fundraiser before, you know how hard it can be to maintain high levels of participation throughout the entire fundraiser. But the more people you have promoting and participating in your fundraiser, the most money you will be able to put back into supporting your youth programs.
You should offer incentives that encourage the children who benefit from your school or summer camp programs and activities to engage in the fundraising process.
Consider offering incentives for:
- 100% class or team participation.
- Reaching a class or team-specific goal.
- Raising a certain percentage of the total goal.
Fundraising incentives do not have to be elaborate. The children, teachers, parents, and supporters’ primary goal is to raise the money and reap the benefits, so the incentive can be relatively modest. You may consider:
- Hosting a pizza party for the class or team who raised the most money.
- Allowing a portion of the proceeds to go directly to the class who met the highest goal.
- Allowing the class to retain the money they raised above their fundraising goal.
You may want to check out read some fundraising ideas that appeal to private schools to see how to effectively run a fundraising campaign in your specific community.
Keep in mind that if you are going to track the progress and participation of each fundraising participant, you need to have some sort of system in place that will take a lot of the weight off your shoulders.
The most important thing to remember is to find a software or online tool that is designed specifically to meet the needs of a multi-participant fundraising campaign.
5. Promote your fundraiser with branded merchandise.
Custom designed merchandise is one of the best ways to promote your fundraiser. The merchandise can serve many functions:
- Charge a small fee and boost your revenue.
- Present a united front among a variety of fundraisers.
- Encourage camaraderie among your participants.
The branded merchandise can be anything including water bottles, wristbands, and frisbees. But the most popular trend is custom t-shirts that reflect the cause you are supporting and the organization you represent. Check out how you can create a custom shirt for your school or team.
As an added bonus, the t-shirts or other custom merchandise can also act an incentive to participate and become a part of something much larger than a single individual.
Remember that these fundraisers are all about bringing your community together in support of a youth program. Presenting a united, spirited force of young fundraisers will greatly increase the success rate of your fundraiser.
There is no rule that states your school or youth fundraiser can’t be both fun and raise a lot of funds. Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, you will be able to encourage child participation and boost your fundraising revenue!
This post was contributed by Brad Dowhaniuk.
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.