At Golden Elementary in Placentia, California, it's not just the kids who benefit from the Jog-A-Thon they've run through PledgeStar for the past three years—it's the teachers, too. “We also award the teacher from the classroom that raises the most money with a gift card,” says Jennifer Murphy, former Jog-A-Thon chair and current committee member. “We know how important it is for the teachers to help us promote it.”
Before Ms. Murphy found PledgeStar in 2019, Golden Elementary was running their fundraiser completely on their own, so they had no outside help with accounting for donations. “I called about 5 or 6 different companies,” says Ms. Murphy. “The lower cost of PledgeStar really stood out. Other companies took a percentage without a cap like PledgeStar. Another company I contacted took 30 percent.”
Ms. Murphy explains that Golden Elementary's team of volunteers didn't need the extra services that came with the higher fees of other companies. What they were looking for was a way to manage donations easily and efficiently. “We had lots of cash and checks going back and forth prior to using PledgeStar, and it was kind of a recipe for disaster.”
With PledgeStar, Golden Elementary was able to eliminate the confusing back and forth of manually accounting for incoming funds. “With PledgeStar, we earned more money than we ever had before,” says Ms. Murphy. “The year before finding PledgeStar, we earned about $80,000-$90,000. Our first year with PledgeStar, we earned almost $140,000.”
The school's volunteers appreciated how PledgeStar established honest communication with the school. “We were able to take online donations but also continue with cash or checks if that's how people wanted to donate,” says Ms. Murphy. “There was no other fee associated with allowing us to do that. It was very transparent.”
Not only is PledgeStar transparent, they're also user-friendly. “Families at the school said it was really easy for people to use and was really great for donors who live out of state or even just out of the neighborhood,” Ms. Murphy says.
PledgeStar made it easy for classrooms to track their donations daily and engage in friendly competition. “It was a lot easier to do the accounting. Families were able to look on the leaderboard and see where they were ranked,” Ms. Murphy explains.
In addition to raising funds for their school, the students at Golden really enjoyed getting outside and exercising for a good cause. “On the day of the Jog-A-Thon, we have a DJ on campus playing music to get the kids excited to run,” says Ms. Murphy. “We have 3 different tracks on the campus and for each round, 2 classes run on each track, so 6 classrooms at once.” We incorporated sweet treats into their prizes—after they ran, everyone got popsicles,” says Ms. Murphy. “The kids had a great time.”
Ms. Murphy explains that Golden Elementary got the kids excited for the fundraiser with awesome prizes. “We give the students 2-3 weeks to get pledges,” she says. “We have different prize levels for money raised. Some kids win a game truck experience, some kids get a hot lunch delivered to school from a local restaurant, and in the past we've awarded kids with taking a limo to lunch or a laser tag experience.”
The parent volunteers also introduced class-wide prizes so that students would encourage each other to participate. “If a whole class participates, they get a pizza or ice cream party. We also give prizes for highest class earner and highest grade level earner.”
It wasn't just a fun day—the kids, parent volunteers, and teachers raised an incredible amount of money for their school. In the past, Golden Elementary has put the funds toward technology. This year, they're branching out. “We haven't decided exactly what to do with the funds yet, but will most likely put it toward what we've funded in the past: school field trips, teacher stipends, movie nights on campus, funding the school play, books for the classrooms, campus printers, and the Reflections program,” says Ms. Murphy.