The staff and faculty of Butler Elementary in Avon, Massachusetts, pride themselves on not only offering top-notch academic instruction but also instilling important values in their students. This was on full display during the September 2021 Butler CARES Course fundraiser—a 10 day event that culminated in a fun run/obstacle course.
“We have 5 values we focus on during the year,” explains parent volunteer Shannon Coffey. “During the fundraiser, we highlighted one of those values each day: cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. We asked community members, like the police chief and the fire chief, to make videos about a specific value and had the teachers show them in the classrooms to get the kids excited about the fundraiser.”
Clearly their enthusiasm paid off: Butler easily surpassed their $35,000 goal and completely funded all field trips and enrichment programs for the 2021-22 school year. Since donations exceeded expectations, they were also able to fulfill their dream of building an outdoor classroom that will be available to every student on campus.
Ms. Coffey credits this year’s success to the amazing Butler community but also the school’s partnership with PledgeStar. “After using another company for online fundraising,” Ms. Coffey says, “We had several parents frustrated that a lot of profit went to the company that ran it. A friend had posted on social media about using PledgeStar, so I looked it up and compared it to a couple other sites. We really liked what PledgeStar had to offer. Not having to upload all the names ourselves and allowing people to register on their own really appealed to us along with the lower cost.”
Ms. Coffey and her team of volunteers also realized they could reward students in more efficient and economic ways—and also more equitable depending on family financial circumstances.
“We tried to stay away from spending money on a bunch of trinkets and instead gave the students raffle tickets incrementally depending on how much they raised,” Ms. Coffey explains. “Some of the raffle prizes were a ride to school on a fire truck or police car, principal for a day, cupcake parties, tablets, FitBits, and hoverboards. The raffle gave every kid a chance to win no matter how much they raised.”
The volunteers at Butler also understood that not all family members would want to donate online and appreciated that PledgeStar also provided the option to raise funds the old-fashioned way. “With our prior vendor, we couldn’t accept checks or cash in addition to online donations,” says Ms. Coffey. “I think we definitely earned more by having that option with PledgeStar.”
One of the many surprises during this year’s CARES Course fundraiser was the dramatic increase in sponsors—from 5 to 26. By using the PledgeStar platform, Butler Elementary was able to acknowledge these generous donors and share their information with the community. “I loved that we could put our sponsors on our PledgeStar page,” says Ms. Coffey. “We could also put photos of the prizes on our page and I think it really helped motivate the kids.
While asking for money can be challenging, following up can be even harder. Parent volunteers are typically not comfortable playing the role of bill collector, and PledgeStar includes easy payment reminder emails as part of the platform, which the volunteers at Butler really appreciated. “We were able to follow up on outstanding payments via PledgeStar,” explains Ms. Coffee. “And by sending out reminders, we got the checks within the next day or two. PledgeStar was just so helpful in every way we needed.”