PTA fundraiser season is coming up! Learn everything you need to know about running a virtual PTA fundraiser in this post from Mightycause!
Do we still sell candy and wrapping paper to raise money for a PTA fundraiser? The answer is- Absolutely! But that’s not the only way to raise money these days. Walk-a-thons are taking on a new look. Peer-to-Peer fundraising is not confined to geographical lines. And going virtual has never been so easy.
What are the benefits of running a virtual PTA fundraiser?
- Going virtual means anyone can donate from anywhere. Aunt Sherida may live in Tucson, but she can donate to her nephew’s walk-a-thon happening in Charlotte.
- Processing donations online translates to money in the bank but avoids the cash flow from donor to student to teacher to PTA. Save steps and reduce error.
- Most virtual fundraisers accept PayPay and Apple Pay and donations can be made from a smartphone. Does it get any easier than that??
“We used the Mightycause platform to host our PTA Dolphin Color Dash event. And your customer support was so helpful! I’ve heard several comments from parents and teachers on how much they liked the website & how easy it was to share and donate during the campaign. I’m certain our PTA will be recurring customers!”
— Beth Spillman, Dolphin Dash Fundraiser
What to figure out first when running a virtual PTA fundraiser?
Everything you do when panning your fundraising calendar is going to tie back to three questions. Once these questions are answered you’re ready to move forward.
(1) What are the funds going toward?
(2) How much do we need?
(3) When do we host our fundraising campaign?
Look back and then look forward. Are there yearly initiatives that need funding? If so, how much was raised in the past and what price fluctuations may have occurred since?Then consider the future needs of your school and when you need certain campaign funds to be available. This will dictate when you host your fundraiser. Now, work backwards to build your preparation timeline.
A couple of tips here:
- Review the federal and state guidelines for PTA fundraising and reporting. You don’t want surprises.
- Make sure your PTA votes and documents the priority of your fundraising needs.
- Be willing to make changes. Just because you have done something for the past 5 years doesn’t mean you need to keep doing it if it doesn’t fit your PTA priorities.
- To avoid donor burnout, balance your fundraising campaigns. For example, if you put on a Spring Carnival consider hosting your virtual event in the fall.
- Consider your community calendar and how you can partner with community activities already in place.
- Check out the Mightycause Event Fundraising Handbook for more guidance.
What’s your PTA fundraiser’s angle?
Running a virtual PTA fundraiser is about more than just raising money. You want to build community, school pride, and student ownership of their school. You’ll find that families and teachers are willing to participate as long as your fundraiser is easy to understand and there is ample time to prepare. This means it’s up to you to create a campaign that is easy to set up, promote, and execute.
Let’s work for it!
Walk-a-thons, read-a-thons and fun runs are a hit because the students are earning their donations in a healthy way. And you can get your kids participating in a variety of ways. Walk, bike, read, swim, dance- you choose or let the students choose. Allowing your students to choose their activity can be a lot of fun. They can express themselves and they don’t feel forced to participate in something they don’t like.
First decide your breakdown, are you going to raise money per student, class, or grade level. If per student, are you going to ask parents to build out a page for their child or are you going to build out each page? You also have to keep in mind that parents may not want their child to have a web page.
As an alternative, consider creating a page per class. Each student provides their class page to friends and family. Remember, teachers usually don’t mind helping. But their plates are already full. It can be your gift to them to create the class page. These pages are great because the students still take part in the activity, they are encouraged to work toward the benefit of the class, and parents only need to send out the link.
There is nothing wrong with sales!
Running a virtual fundraiser can also mean sales. This is a tried and true method. Community members embrace the opportunity to make a purchase that benefits you and them. The variety of product fundraisers is endless. You can find everything from household items to holiday decorations and food. Check out a list of vendors here.
When selecting your products, consider the time of year and any community or school initiatives. If holiday shopping is on the horizon- join the frenzy. If your school is promoting Earth Day- go with reusable and earth sustaining items.
Depending on your vendor, the transaction and delivery can all be done by the product company. This is huge for the PTA members and students. Instead of being caught up in the logistics, you can focus on other PTA responsibilities. This also comes with a warning. Be sure that your costs don’t eat too far into your profits. Some vendors are happy to take care of everything, but that could mean reduced revenue.
Do you hear a higher bidder?
Virtual auctions open a world of possibilities that can’t be had in person. A buyer can be anywhere. The event can take place over a few days because it’s not in-person. The advertisement for community supporters reaches far and wide. And you don’t have to be an auctioneer to make it happen.
Get your community merchants involved. Instead of asking for monetary donations, reach out to businesses in your community to auction off services, meals, items and experiences. Not only do you receive the proceeds but they receive the advertisement and you build community. Start by finding your virtual auction platform, then gather the “items” to be auctioned and advertise, advertise, advertise!
What else you need to know for running your virtual PTA fundraiser.
Teachers and parents are your biggest advocates when it comes to fundraising. Make sure you have a plan in place to communicate throughout the campaign. Have all your information ducks in a row before you begin your promotions. If you are going to host a read-a-thon in which each student has a fundraiser page, have clear instructions for each parent. Create a fundraiser page template and provide wording suggestions.
Your teachers need fast and easy. The more you can do for them, the better. Your communication should be precise, not too much and not too little. Too many emails or flyers and people will stop reading them. But too few and people will forget about deadlines and promotion. To find this balance, it can be helpful to ask a few teachers for their input.
Share your success!
You’ve worked hard. Your students, their families and donors have worked hard. Tell them about it! Saying thank you and sharing your results is one of the most important parts of your campaign. People need to feel a part of the accomplishment just as much as they feel a part of the process. To not share the success is like a story without an ending. And in the future, people will be less likely to get involved. Even if you don’t hit your fundraising goals, still share.
Stick to your deadlines, but be flexible.
Deadlines keep things running smoothly. Virtual platforms and vendors have deadlines in order to provide you services. Missing deadlines within your campaign can cause added fees or delays with your vendors. That said, when running your first virtual PTA fundraiser, build in some wiggle room. This gives you a cushion for the “just in case. . .”
Research & Record!
There are many fundraising companies offering fair profit margins. Others offer free products but cut into your profits per donation or sale. Be careful to find the balance between workload and payoff. While weighing your options, be sure to do your math homework and document what you find.
And then record what you did, how you did it and what you would do differently. Include in your results different facets of your fundraising: How much did you raise? How many students participated? What complaints were raised and what aspects did your teachers really enjoy? The more you can record now, the better it will serve your PTA in the future.
Inquire with your vendors about their customer support before you sign a contract, especially if you are new to virtual fundraising. Questions are inevitable, you want to know someone will be there to answer your questions in a timely manner.
Remember, fundraising isn’t about fundraising. Your PTA is here to support your students, families, teachers and school community. Keep the bigger picture in mind, but allow your creative juices to flow. Running a virtual PTA fundraiser does not have to be scary or overwhelming. Take it one step at a time.