In the spring of 2019, Portland area parents and students received dismal news from the local school district: more budget cuts and a big hit for public school funding. Thousands of community members later staged a protest in the streets of downtown Portland and many wore “Red For Ed” T-shirts to demonstrate their concern.
Fortunately for Patterson Elementary School, an ambitious mother introduced the PTO to PledgeStar’s online fundraising system. After some hesitation, Patterson PTO decided to use the system and, with PledgeStar’s help, increased their annual "Panther Dash" jog-a-thon earnings by 40% in one year!
Jessica Thorpe knew that her kids had several years left in the district and wanted to do something to improve the quality of education for them in the years to come. So, she rearranged things at work, prioritized volunteering at school, and attended her first PTO meeting at Patterson Elementary School with the hope of making even the smallest difference.
“I spent the summer researching online fundraising platforms,” said Thorpe. “I just thought to myself, ‘oh my gosh there has to be a better way.’”
Thorpe had heard of online platforms for fundraising and knew that Patterson has used traditional methods in the past. She thought that switching to an online platform might help the school earn more money to pay for the programs that the district would no longer cover.
Although Thorpe was fairly confident that online fundraising would be the best option for her school, others weren’t so sure. She proposed the idea to the PTO and was initially met with some skepticism. Parents were unsure about whether the online route was practical, and some thought it was simply a bad idea. Fortunately, the naysayers were eventually proven wrong.
Using PledgeStar, Patterson Elementary was able to raise over $35,000 at their annual "Panther Dash" jog-a-thon - a 40% increase from 2018!
When Thorpe found PledgeStar, she compared it to the dozens of other companies that she came across on the internet. She liked the ease of use that PledgeStar offered and was very impressed with the personal support she received from the staff.
“I was so impressed,” she said. “I was really happy that PledgeStar had the data and wealth of testimonials to back up their claims.”
The jog-a-thon that Thorpe and the other PTO members organized was adapted according to PledgeStar staff suggestions. PledgeStar’s research had shown that offering flat donations in addition to per-lap pledges had the potential to bring in more money. Other small tweaks to the event proved successful and the parents were grateful for the easy-to-use system that allowed them to reach a wider audience for potential donors.
“A lot of people thanked me,” Thorpe recalled. “They told me stories of having to reach out to family members and sometimes they only got IOUs that were never paid. Online fundraising was a million times better.”