Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva day school proudly describes itself as a “warm community of learners.” Certainly part of that value is displayed in the students’ love of and dedication to reading. This past April, the school’s parent group (RPRY+) encouraged the more than 200 students of RPRY to not only read every day, but also help raise more than $20,000 for their school’s general fund during their annual Read-A-Thon.
“I did a lot of research and spent a lot of time going to different websites,” explains RPRY+ member Shoshana Lapp. “Price-wise, PledgeStar was definitely the best. The fact that they cap their fee was huge; it let us get as much profit as possible.”
As a busy mother of four, Ms. Lapp also recognized that simple technology would be important to other RPRY families. “It was just so easy to use,” says Ms. Lapp. “Setting it up was easy. The people at PledgeStar were really helpful. When I tried to set up a demo with other websites, it was just too complicated. I thought, ‘I don’t have time for this.’ Pledgestar was definitely helpful. We couldn’t have done [the Read-A-Thon] by ourselves.”
While the dedicated student body of RPRY are already avid readers, the RPRY+ team knew students would need an extra incentive to find sponsors for their Read-A-Thon account. Since the event was called “Pop Open a Good Book,” the answer was obvious.
“Any class that had 100% participation in the fundraiser got a popcorn party,” shares Ms. Lapp. “We got a popcorn machine and the kids got to watch it being made, which was really fun for them. They had the popcorn in movie-theater style bags and got to pick from a bunch of popcorn toppings. It was very messy but the kids loved it! It was a great incentive to get that last kid in the class signed up so the class could get the popcorn party.”
Like many schools have discovered with the PledgeStar platform, the ability to share event data in real time is incredibly valuable. “The reports were probably the most useful,” says Ms. Lapp. “The prize report was very helpful. I really liked that I could go into our PledgeStar account and see which kids had received prizes. When I ran a report, I could see who I already gave prizes to and who still needed to get theirs. It was very easy to export the report and sort by what I needed to do. It was also helpful to provide to our controller so he could cross-reference all the donations.”
While PledgeStar focuses on online donations during school fundraisers, they also realize that not all family members may have that capability—especially grandparents and older neighbors who want to support the school but are not comfortable using technology. “It was really great that we could also accept checks and cash in addition to online donations,'' says Ms. Lapp. “It was easy to enter cash or check donations into the PledgeStar system and give the correct student credit.”
At the conclusion of RPRY’s Read-A-Thon, each student who read every day of the event was eligible to win one of two spiritwear prizes. “The parents were able to use the reading log part of PledgeStar to keep track of their child’s reading progress and the kids who won the raffle were really excited,” says Ms. Lapp.