Like many schools dependent on annual fundraisers to help with curriculum and program costs, Redwood Christian Schools wasn’t sure what to expect from this year’s Jog-A-Thon fundraiser. Located in San Francisco, Redwood Christian Schools has a student population of over 700 students in grades TK-12. At the time of their annual Jog-A-Thon in January 2021, nearly 10% of their student population was not on campus due to COVID restrictions.
Mike Kady, Director of Advancement at Redwood Christian Schools, said “for this year’s Jog-A-Thon, our initial goal was $100,000. Normally we would set it a little higher, but with COVID I told the superintendent if we reached $100,000, that would be great.” In the end, despite the limitations that COVID placed on their Jog-A-Thon, Redwood Christian Schools still pulled in an impressive $145,000. “This was beyond our expectations!” Kady said.
While RCS has been using Pledgestar for the past five years with great success, something new and exciting about this year’s Jog-A-Thon fundraiser was Pledgestar’s new Multilingual feature. This new feature allows Pledgestar users to have event information and pledge requests translated into a different language via a simple drop-down menu. Currently, Pledgestar offers translations into over 50 different languages! To date, nearly 70 fundraising events, including the RCS Jog-A-Thon, have used the multilingual feature.
This year, RCS had a request to send out Pledgestar donation requests in Spanish. Thanks to the multilingual feature, RCS was able to reach a large number of their Spanish-speaking families, which undoubtedly contributed to this year’s fundraising success.
RCS has been using Pledgestar since 2016. Previously, they were exclusively using paper packets to send home with their students. When they began using Pledgestar five years ago, they didn’t immediately switch to 100% digital. Instead, they slowly worked their way to a more digital process ending last year at a roughly 50-50 split. However this year, due to COVID, it was 100% digital, 100% Pledgestar. “Per person, this was our biggest money year to date,” Kady said. On average this year, each participating student raised $222. Pre-Pledgestar, Kady noted that each participating RCS student raised $106, which shows that even during a challenging pandemic, using Pledgestar helped RCS increase their per-student average by 109%!
Another Pledgestar advantage Kady realized this year, when he faced running a fundraiser without his usual team of volunteers, was that he actually could run it himself. “Pledgestar has made fundraising much, much easier. Before COVID, I would have 5-10 volunteers working with me daily. Because of PledgeStar’s reporting tools, I was able to run it myself.”
While running a fundraiser single-handedly is not ideal, Pledgestar equips people with many features, tools, and exceptional customer service to run a successful fundraiser with fewer people, if the situation calls for it. “I have to give an A+ to Pledgestar for customer support. Either Emily or Erik would get right back to me,” Kady said.
When asked how he found Pledgestar, Kady replied that he found it online. “We were looking for a hybrid of paper/online. If we pulled in $70-75,000, it would be a good year. Other fundraising platforms were charging 10% off the top. I couldn’t bear to pay the $7,500 in fees. When I saw that Pledgestar charged $995 max, I wondered what happened after the $995. So I called Erik and asked him just that, ‘what happens after that?’ Erik said ‘the invoice stops there.’ And it did! The first year we used Pledgestar, we raised a little over $130,000!” That’s a 45% increase! “Imagine if we had to pay 10% off the top?! That’s money we could use for the students. With Pledgestar, low fees plus great customer service equals a very successful program. The kids are the beneficiaries.”