Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What you Need to Know about K-12 Fundraising Tech

Almost all parents, teachers, and administrators at K-12 schools have been involved in school fundraising efforts, often trying out many different types in search of the right fit. The best school fundraisers are those that students and parents enjoy participating in while also raising significant amounts in donations.

This ideal balance can be difficult to find. However, the development of numerous online fundraising options for students has created the opportunity for schools to embrace digital storytelling and social media sharing in their fundraising efforts. These types of fundraisers play to students’ (and parents’) strengths, creating valuable leadership and teamwork opportunities in the process.

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the most important aspects of K-12 fundraising technology that you need to know about before you embark on one of these engaging fundraisers with your students. We’ll show you how fundraising technology aimed at K-12 schools is effective because it is:

  1. Shareable
  2. Educational
  3. Adaptable
  4. User-Friendly

Let’s get started with one of the most important aspects of any online fundraising effort: how shareable the campaign is! Whether the students themselves or their parents are taking the lead in your next fundraising effort, look for fundraising tech that makes it easy to spread the word about your campaign using as many channels as possible.

1. K-12 Fundraising Tech is Shareable
The structure of your school fundraiser depends in large part upon the age of your student participants. For elementary and young middle school students, parents will take the lead in the fundraising efforts on behalf of their children, while high school-aged students can take on the responsibilities on their own.

Whether parents or students are taking the lead, online fundraisers promote participation and community involvement through shareable features.

One of the most effective and popular school fundraisers that makes use of technology is the a-thon fundraiser. You’re likely familiar with the walk-a-thon, in which supporters pledge to donate a fixed amount for each lap or mile that student participants walk.

Your school can adapt this model to any number of fundraisers relating to the goals or mission of specific clubs and organizations. You may want to consider, for instance:

  • A hit-a-thon to raise money for your baseball team.
  • A read-a-thon supporting your school library.
  • A fun run to raise money for your playground.
  • A Color Run to raise money for school supplies..

When your school takes part in an a-thon fundraiser using online fundraising software, your student participants (or their parents) receive customizable pages that they can share via email, text, and social media with their friends, family members, and other connections. Supporters pledge their support and complete their donations using these pages, and can even share them among their own networks to increase donations.

If your students aren’t yet connected to the internet and social media via their smartphones, it’s almost certain that their parents are. With the help of online fundraising software, participants can share their pages and supporters can make their contributions whether they’re on their phones or their computers. Ready to get started? You can visit 99Pledges to learn more about online fundraising software for a-thon fundraisers and start planning the perfect fundraiser for your school.

Planning and carrying out an a-thon fundraiser using online fundraising software is an excellent way to use social media and other online tools for education, applying one of the most popular forms of technology to a great cause. Especially for older students capable of taking on most of the fundraising responsibilities themselves, an online fundraiser presents a wonderful educational opportunity.

2. K-12 Fundraising Tech is Educational

If you work with middle or high schoolers, you already know that they’re experts when it comes to texting and social media sharing. You may even be used to encouraging them to spend less time on their phones! However, especially for older students, an online fundraiser such as an a-thon can provide great training in leadership and teamwork.

Ready to get your students involved in a color run, walk-a-thon, jog-a-thon, read-a-thon or similar event? This fundraiser can do more than simply raise a lot of money for your school or a charitable cause with whom your school has chosen to partner. As they work to share their pages and plan the anchor event for their fundraiser, older students can:

  • Develop leadership skills. Students can create plans for sharing their donation pages online and via text to reach the widest audiences possible. They can also take the lead in planning aspects of the anchor event, working with parents, teachers, and school administrators to help schedule the event, choose a venue, and encourage participation in the event and the associated fundraiser.

  • Learn to work as a team. Encourage students to work together to develop effective plans for spreading the word about the fundraiser. Similar to differentiated instruction, this type of fundraiser creates opportunities for students with various preferences and specialties, such as writing and communication skills.

  • Take on responsibility for the causes they care about. By putting students in the primary fundraising role, shareable online fundraisers such as the a-thon connect them to the cause for which they’re raising money. Whether they’re supporting their own club or organization or partnering with a local nonprofit, students who take part in these online fundraisers will be able to take pride in raising the money themselves through their own efforts.

Want to motivate students to participate? Encourage a little friendly competition by choosing online donation tools that offer gamification elements such as leaderboards.

With the help of your online fundraising software, your school will be able to track and report on the students who have shared their page the most or raised the most in donations. You can also group students into teams, such as by class or homeroom, for team-based competition.

Rewarding top participants in your school’s fundraiser is a great way to encourage students. You can boost school spirit with wearable prizes such as t-shirts customized with your school’s colors and mascot. With the help of a custom t-shirt platform such as Bonfire, these shirts are easy to create and distribute to your top participants.

Other incentives don’t have to be as expensive, or cost anything at all! You can motivate participants with free prizes such as wearing a fun hat to school or getting to eat lunch outside. You can also offer a reward such as a pizza party to the class or team who raises the most in donations.

Online fundraisers such as fun runs and read-a-thons  are an excellent choice for schools because they teach students valuable lessons and skills and because they fit well with a variety of causes. Your school can adapt your fundraiser and anchor event to suit your fundraising focus and the resources you have available.

3. K-12 Fundraising Tech is Adaptable

It’s likely that your students already have at least some experience with online learning. Online tutoring and teaching programs make effective supplements to traditional classwork because they’re adaptable to students’ varying learning needs. Similarly, your school can adapt your online fundraiser to better reflect your mission, reach your goals, and involve your students and parents.

An a-thon fundraiser is a particularly flexible type of online fundraiser because your school can customize it to match the cause for which you’re raising money. Because your online fundraising software creates shareable pages that work equally well for any type of a-thon fundraiser, you can even host multiple fundraisers of this style!

For instance, your school could host a walk-a-thon to raise money for your athletics department and promote an active and healthy lifestyle, and then later get students involved in a read-a-thon to foster academic excellence and gather donations for a library expansion. If you’re looking for more a-thon fundraiser ideas that you can modify to suit your school’s goals, you can check some incredible ideas right here.

However, your school chooses to adapt or modify your online fundraiser, one constant remains: the success of your fundraiser is dependent upon the participation of students or parents in the fundraising role and supporters in the giving role. Luckily, your online fundraising software makes it easy to both start and support your school’s campaign with technology that anyone can use!

4. K-12 Fundraising Tech is User-Friendly

Whether you’re working with students, parents, teachers, or administrators, your school knows that user-friendliness is key when it comes to adopting new technology for classroom and extracurricular use. Top sites and apps are those that teach valuable skills without unnecessary complications.

With the right online fundraising software, both participants and supporters will find it easy to take part in your school’s fundraiser.

Once your school decides on the type of fundraiser you’re planning to host, it’s time for you to choose the online fundraising software solution that’s going to help you achieve your mission. In addition to sharing capabilities, educational value, and adaptability for future use, you’ll want to look for:

  • Customizable pages. Parents and older students want to use their individual donation pages to tell their stories, expressing their individual connections with your school’s cause to better resonate with potential supporters. Look for online fundraising software that allows individual participants to customize their pages before they share them, but doesn’t require technological set-up on the part of the participant.

  • Easy payment options for supporters. Different supporters will want to make their contributions in different ways. An effective online donation page needs to accept common online payment methods such as credit cards and PayPal. You can encourage even more supporters to give when you’re also able to accept cash and check donations.

  • Useful reporting features. One major benefit of online fundraising software is that the parent, teacher, or administrator organizing the fundraiser will be able to check the progress of individual student fundraisers or groups of participants using the software’s reporting features. Choose online fundraising tools that offer comprehensive reporting features that you can access at any point during your fundraiser.

Looking for more places to spread the word about your online fundraising effort? The homepage of your school’s website is a great place to share relevant information that will help supporters make their contributions. For additional guidance, you can visit some of the top nonprofits online to see how they use their websites to encourage giving.

The right online fundraising tools can make your school’s next fundraiser more engaging for students and parents, easier for contributors to support, and more effective when it comes to raising money for your school. With the help of fundraising technology, your school’s next effort is sure to be both fun and successful.

You can revitalize your school fundraising efforts with the help of fundraising technology that makes it easier and more fun to gather donations online. With plenty of ways to motivate students and their parents to get involved, your fundraising technology can help make your next school fundraiser your most effective one yet.


Brad Dowhaniuk is the cofounder 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.

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