When Bradshaw Christian School in Sacramento, California, shut down along with the rest of the world in 2020, Ann Gomez, development director, was nervous about the future of their 28-year-old annual fundraiser.
"We made plans to bring back the Jog-A-Thon in 2021," Ms. Gomez explains. "With all the changes at school and the need to do something different with students at home, we started looking at online opportunities. It just made sense to make the leap with PledgeStar."
Making a big change to the decades-old fundraiser wasn't without concern. "The Jog-A-Thon is our main fundraiser, our golden goose," Ms. Gomez says. "While looking for an online platform, we were also weighed down by thoughts that the old method had worked for so long. As much as online made more sense, including postage and paper savings, with the old way we were guaranteed the money we'd been earning for more than 20 years."
Those fears were quickly squashed once Bradshaw signed on with PledgeStar and the Jog-A-Thon profits increased—so much so that the event was PledgeStar's top earner of the year with $370,000.
Using PledgeStar also helped Bradshaw connect with current tech-savvy parents. After nearly 30 years of the pen-and-paper method, Ms. Gomez admits that the school's pivot to online was long overdue. "The ease of technology is what made our fundraiser with PledgeStar successful. The ability to send 20, 30, 100 emails or texts with your photo and your own webpage is really attractive to younger generations. With the rapid embracing of smartphones and apps, there is a generation of parents at our school that are used to doing things this way. It really speaks their language."
Despite Bradshaw's past financial success, Ms. Gomez recollects how labor-intensive their previous method was and how adopting PledgeStar was a game-changer. "We had teams of parents spend 2 to 3 weeks processing all the paper pledges. Each of our 1,500 students would turn in forms with handwritten addresses and we had to process them. With PledgeStar, we only need a couple volunteers because the platform does the work for you."
And for Bradshaw, efficiency is key. "This year, when we used PledgeStar for the second time," Ms. Gomez shares, "The parents were really pleased that their information had been saved, which made it very easy for them to register this year." She also recalls that the parents see it as money-saving with the elimination of paper or postage and raves about the dashboard and how easy it is to pull up reports quickly. The flexibility offered with PledgeStar allowed Bradshaw to keep the paper option for families who wanted it. It's no wonder that the school used PledgeStar for a second time in 2022, raising over $350,000, and plans to continue with the platform in 2023.
Even before they used PledgeStar, Bradshaw's Jog-A-Thon raised $160,000 a year, and that number almost doubled after the switch. They're able to fund athletics, technology, campus security, playground equipment, and curriculum with donations alone. "We make sure there's an item for each school level that funds will go toward including preschool, elementary, middle and high school," says Ms. Gomez.
The event itself is a school-year highlight for students, parents, and teachers alike. "We have prizes and parties based on financial participation for each school level," says Ms. Gomez. "Parents are invited to watch or even run with the kids if they want to. There's music and bubbles to make it fun. Some of the kids even have painted hair. It's something everyone looks forward to."