Cooper Mountain Elementary in Beaverton, Oregon, believes that all students should be able to read every book their heart desires, regardless of their family’s financial situation. This was even more important during their 2021 Cougar Run fundraiser, with many families still struggling.
“There’s a big literacy focus at our school, including the Oregon Battle of the Books state reading competition,” says PTO event organizer Alia Hedges. “But our school tends to never have enough money for the school library, so every year the PTO invests in books from the OBOB reading list. We want to make sure all kids have access to OBOB books without a financial barrier.”
This is where funds from the Cougar Run prove to be vital. “We made $24,000 last year, but this year we set a goal of $15,000,” says Ms. Hedges. “This lower goal was based on people being out of work and not wanting to put any strain on families. But in the end, much to our surprise, we ended up making over $30,000.”
Cooper Mountain credits this unexpected windfall with their use of PledgeStar.
“We used to send home paper envelopes with each student to collect cash and checks,” explains Ms. Hedges. “Then, a parent who had experience with PledgeStar through school sports suggested we modernize and use the platform at Cooper Mountain for a broader reach. It was awesome to see how easy it was to make significantly more money with less work.”
In addition to the increase in money earned, Ms. Hedges explains how PledgeStar’s ease of use made a difference while planning the Cougar Run. “Technology can be overwhelming, but I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use PledgeStar—it’s definitely the easiest part of running our fundraiser. It also makes it easy to give: my mom is 75 and she can submit a donation in 2 minutes. It was also amazing to see the number of responses our kids got by sending out donation request letters through PledgeStar.”
Once the event concluded and donations were tallied, Cooper Mountain PTO wanted to practice the act of paying it forward. “We decided to put community support first,” says Ms. Hedges. “In addition to supporting teachers with the purchase of classroom technology, we partnered with staff to help families in need on our campus. We helped with rent, mortgage payments and even Christmas presents.”
Ms. Hedges discussed the process of getting the PTO and school on board with using an online fundraising platform and the concerns that often arise when paying for a service. “This year, we participated in PledgeStar’s pilot program to have donors cover the administrative fee. It was amazing. It’s hard to give up any money during a fundraiser, and the donations we raised this year with the pilot program covered the platform fee 100%.”
In these tumultuous financial times, Ms. Hedges reflects about the changing face of school fundraising. “It’s been awesome to see how we can keep fundraising significant,” she says. “If we weren’t using PledgeStar, I think it would be really challenging. Parents would definitely forget to donate, and I think the Cougar Run would have been somewhat disastrous. It’s almost ironic to think that in a period where we’d most likely be struggling to hit our targets, we are actually doubling them. I really attribute a lot of that to PledgeStar making it so easy, for families who are able, to give easily and give significantly.”