We've all seen how excited students get when their school principals participate in campus events. But have you ever seen a parish priest joining in on a fun run with his students? At Good Shepherd Catholic School in San Diego, California, one of the school's priests did just that.
Tiffany Viloria, Good Shepherd's Parent Teacher Group (PTG) fundraising coordinator, has a unique opportunity to view fundraising from the side of the faculty as well as the parents at the annual GSCS Jog-A-Thon. "I'm a preschool teacher here," she says, "but my own kids also attend the school."
At Good Shepherd, pen and paper fundraising was always the way to go—until this year. "Historically we've always sent home envelopes to get donations from families." But Viloria and Good Shepherd knew they would be limiting themselves if they didn't try an online method, too. "Knowing there was money to be had out there through other channels, I thought it would be great to go digital this year."
Once Good Shepherd found PledgeStar, they leaped at the chance to save money up front. "We contacted a couple companies who took about 20 percent or more of the funds," Ms. Viloria tells us. "When I learned that PledgeStar charges 7 percent, and even caps with the potential to have our event for no cost to us, we decided to go with them."
Good Shepherd didn't just pick PledgeStar out of a hat—they had glowing references to go off of. "A couple parents at our school who are principals at other schools in the area told me that they use the same service." Knowing that trusted community members were already using the platform gave Good Shepherd the confidence to try PledgeStar themselves.
Ms. Viloria explains how beneficial it was to implement social media. "We were able to get parents to sign up and send requests via email, text and social media, which was huge, because in years past, it involved phone calls and asking friends and family in person." She explains that this method reaches a much broader group of people. "For me personally, I know I had at least five people donate who I wouldn't have even thought to ask—they saw the link on my social media."
Ms. Viloria explains that Good Shepherd's donations nearly doubled this year. "Our original goal this year was $8,500," she says. "But once we signed up with PledgeStar, we ended up raising $13,500."
After their dramatic increase in earnings this year, Good Shepherd is ready to leave the cash and check method behind. And their families agree. "Parents told us PledgeStar was really easy to use," says Ms. Viloria. "Those who were in charge of the Jog-A-Thon told us that next year, they'd prefer to just do it online without the envelope option."
So what exactly goes on at GSCS's annual Jog-A-Thon? "Our event includes stretching and warm-up laps," says Ms. Viloria. "Our parent volunteers track the laps, and at the end, every student gets a popsicle, and we take a school photo. We award our top 3 runners and fundraisers by classroom and individual students. "This year one of our priests even joined in!"
Ms. Viloria says that Good Shepherd will definitely be using PledgeStar again next year. In addition to the fundraiser's success, PledgeStar's customer support was appreciated at Good Shepherd. "We had a response within 24 hours whenever we had questions while working on the Jog-A-Thon," Ms. Viloria says. "The support was excellent."