The 2018 annual fundraiser at Deer Run Elementary school raised more money than students, teachers, and parent volunteers ever expected thanks to PledgeStar and some calculated planning.
Parent volunteer Lauren Heft had her first experience with PledgeStar and organizing a fundraising event in 2017 for her school’s “Deer Run Run-A-Thon”. She was pleasantly surprised when the school raised $20,000, but learned a few lessons along the way. Applying these lessons her second time running the event as PTO president helped the school raise over $28,000 in 2018.
Heft knew that students who registered on PledgeStar were more likely to collect contributions from family and friends than students who didn’t use the system at all. She decided to offer small incentives to get students and parents to interact with the system and send out pledge requests to family and friends.
She also wanted to reduce administrative overhead for the event to help it run as smooth as possible. In 2017 she found that counting laps was tedious, time consuming, and had room for error, so she took a risk by only allowing students to collect flat pledge donations in 2018. “We were a little worried at first to eliminate per lap pledges,” she said. However, thanks to PledgeStar’s extensive reporting tools Heft knew that flat pledges had worked extremely well the year before before because “PledgeStar had generated so much data for us to analyze”.
Based on their experiences as Deer Run volunteers, Heft and other parents created incentives and prizes to encourage participation in the PledgeStar system. Each student who collected at least $5 on PledgeStar was offered a coupon for a free frosty from Wendy’s. The offer was enough to get students introduced to the system who may not have used it in the past. “We noticed last year that most of the money we earned was collected on PledgeStar, so this year we really pushed for students to just get online since it was so easy,” Heft said.
Along with individuals prizes, Heft offered spirit awards for the class with the most school spirit at the event, a pajama and movie day for the class with the highest percentage of participation, and a school-wide goal that she knew students couldn’t resist: the installation of a Gaga Ball Pit if the school raised over $25,000 collectively.
Two days before the event, Heft and other volunteers weren’t sure that they would reach their goal, but Heft had planned for a last minute push. She knew that momentum would build if students and parents felt the urgency to participate in the final fundraising days, so she displayed a large thermometer at the front of the school to announce the need for action and the time limit for collecting pledges. Parents and participants were spurred on by the display and were able to raise $10,000 in just 48 hours!
Heft, parents, and teachers were thrilled with the results. In the end, Heft says that over 90% of the $28,000 they brought in was collected via PledgeStar.