South Oceanside Elementary school, or South O', as the locals call it, brought in a record-breaking $22,000 this year at their annual jog-a-thon, surpassing last year's dollar amount by $8,000 and increasing their 2017 average by almost seven times!
Before the addition of PledgeStar's online fundraising platform, the jog-a-thon at South O' used to bring in about $3,000 every year using traditional donation request methods like going door to door and calling relatives to ask for sponsorships. Two years ago, however, PTO volunteers decided to move the fundraising to an online platform. They thought their earnings would increase at least a little, but didn't have high expectations because South O is a Title I School, where over 56% of the population qualifies for free and reduced lunch. The results of the jog-a-thon after including PledgeStar went above and beyond their expectations.
"It was like night and day," said PTO volunteer Sara Johnson. "We thought it was going to be hard to use. Some people were nervous, but it was a lot easier than we expected and we earned more than we thought was possible. It was incredibly successful."
When Johnson and the other PTO members saw that their first year using PledgeStar had quadrupled the jog-a-thon's earnings, they set their bar even higher for 2019. She said that there were a few people who were doubtful that the school would ever be able to raise more than $20,000, especially since over half of the families in the school were low-income. They were wrong. After raising more than $22,000 this year, Johnson said that the PTO volunteers are aiming even higher in 2020. "We hope to earn over $25,000" she said, "We're hoping to continue to see this grow and we feel confident that it can."
Johnson and a handful of PTO volunteers used incentives and an exciting superhero theme to get the kids excited to participate online. When students signed up on PledgeStar, they received rewards like gift cards, sweatshirts, or a free yearbook. Each class had a team color and the students were encouraged to dress as superheroes on the day of the event. "We wanted to make it fun for the kids, so we had music, prizes, and bubbles at the jog-a-thon," Johnson said. "Two volunteers dressed up as superheroes and ran with the kids, and prizes had a superhero theme."
Johnson said that PledgeStar's customer service is one of the reasons she plans to use the service again next year. "Even the smallest issue had a fast response time. It was user friendly and easy to navigate from year one." If anyone is hesitating to use PledgeStar, she added, "Just go for it!" She is hopeful that with PldegeStar, next year can be an even more successful event than ever before.