"I come from a tech background, so automation is key," says Sonata Pérez, VP of Fundraising for the Valley View Elementary School PTA in Pleasanton, CA. PledgeStar's ease of use was key to the Fun Run's success, giving parents and admins alike the ability "to log in, interface, share things out electronically on social media channels, via email, via text." On top of being the VP for the fundraiser, Sonata is a busy parent of students at Valley View. She gushes: "Text was huge. I didn't send one email for my kids. It was all text messages. That's really, really incredible. Your reach is much further. I think that was a key determining factor for us to return to PledgeStar."
The Fun Run at the end of September marked Valley View's sixth event with PledgeStar—and the most money raised yet. With nearly $70,000 in pledges, Valley View exceeded its goal by roughly "74% more than anticipated." As VP of Fundraising, Sonata had estimated that the fundraiser could raise about $40,000. So, it was a welcome surprise when the school surpassed its goal well before the fundraiser finished! "One of the things that really was a game changer for us was streamlining communications." Going the extra mile, Sonata built a website and linked to PledgeStar to motivate students to register. The admins reached out to families weekly with instructions on how to register and to let them know how many students had registered as the event progressed. Sonata explains, "Registration meant participation. Students didn't have to raise any money, but they had to register. If they registered, and their teacher registered, and the whole class registered, then they got a prize. We were really driving it around being part of the community."
Valley View Elementary School is a Title I school, so Sonata and the PTA set their sights on increasing participation in the event, rather than only rewarding students who raised a lot of money. In order to catch every fish, Sonata says the school offered a multitude of sign-up incentives. The Fun Run had 11 different prize categories, which encouraged students from lower-income families to participate and feel involved. There were rewards for teacher participation, classroom participation, the student who ran the most laps, and the student who received the highest number of pledges. "Kids were making me laugh," Sonata says. "They were like, 'I'm just going to ask for $5 from 20 people so I can win this prize.' For them, it wasn't about raising the most money, but about, 'How many pledges can I get?' and 'Can I win that?'" Like any good PTA member and parent, Sonata knows how important it is to reward kids for putting in effort: "We really try to look at it from a lot of angles and we reward all of that hard work. Even if somebody raised a dollar, it's a dollar more that we had and we got them to participate. I just want everybody to be a part of the party."
Working with PledgeStar alleviates many of the administrative headaches for coordinators like Sonata. Sonata says that the responsiveness and knowledge of PledgeStar's staff made the process of fundraising easy and accessible. She laughs, "I came with this ridiculous request and it was handled in like, 15 minutes." Sonata says that PledgeStar simplifies administrators' jobs, in part because there are support reps who are ready and available to answer questions in a timely manner.
A friend of Sonata's works at a different elementary school whose fundraiser was running at the same time as Valley View's. Sonata says, "My friend was telling me that they collect pledges manually. In envelopes. The thought of it made me cringe." Looking out for her friend, Sonata highly recommended PledgeStar, saying, "I really want you to see PledgeStar because I think it's going to be a game changer for how you do your Fun Runs moving forward."