Bennington, Nebraska's Pine Creek Elementary PTO started the 2023 school year with one goal in mind. "We wanted to raise $45,000 for the annual budget," says Kelly Van Haitsma, PTO Vice President. "In addition to our regular expenses, we usually buy something like playground equipment or new school furniture, so a big fundraiser is essential."
This was Pine Creek's first time using PledgeStar. "I told one of my friends at work that we were shopping around for a new fundraising company," says Ms. Van Haitsma, "and she told me that her school uses PledgeStar; that's how we ended up using the platform."
One of PledgeStar's selling points for Pine Creek was that the school would keep most of the money earned. "We had to pay the previous company about $20,000 to run our fundraiser," says Ms. Van Haitmsa, "we knew that our families would be upset if they knew how high the fees were. We were so happy to find PledgeStar and know that fees are capped."
PledgeStar was definitely the right move for Pine Creek, as they raised $55,000 this year—exceeding their goal by $10,000. Ms. Van Haitsma notes that PledgeStar's communication options led to the PTO's success. "We love that you can send pledge requests via text," she says. "The other company we were using was email based, and texting works so much better. People are more apt to click on the link and donate when they get it in a text."
Additionally, PledgeStar's customization options worked well for Pine Creek. "We really liked that we could customize the reports the way we wanted to view them," says Ms. Van Haitsma. "With the previous company, reports were very limited. This year, we incorporated raffle tickets, and PledgeStar was able to easily add that to our site so that we could generate a raffle ticket report."
As a way of changing things up this year, Pine Creek decided to replace their usual Fun Run with a new event called "Day of Fun" and added some fun new incentives to get the students hyped about raising money for their school. "We did a pep rally kickoff two weeks before the event and told the kids that if they reached the goal, they would have a school-wide pizza party with bounce houses and a DJ," says Ms. Van Haitsma, "and that the principals would wrestle in Sumo suits."
If they didn't already love PledgeStar's fundraising power, the company's customer service really solidified Pine Creek's decision to use the platform."We would get a response to questions within hours," says Ms. Van Haitsma. "We were really appreciative of that support and it really made our event so much less stressful."