Working with school-age children can be tricky and parents and teachers often find they must learn to sharpen their multitasking skills. By choosing a read-a-thon as your school fundraiser, you can multitask by accomplishing two goals at once: raising money to support your school and encouraging a love of reading in students!

Fortunately, hosting a read-a-thon fundraiser is one of the most accessible types of money-raising multitasking out there. It encourages a love of reading, engages the community, and can help you raise money for your school to better support students! Plus, it’s a delightful fundraiser for students, as they can usually pick what books they want to read based on their hobbies and interests.

If you’ve never hosted a read-a-thon fundraiser before, you may be curious how it works, how to gather support, and tips to ensure your school’s fundraiser is successful. Read on to learn about all of this and more.

What is a read-a-thon?

A read-a-thon is a fundraiser where students are encouraged to read as much as possible in a short amount of time to earn money for their school. Before a read-a-thon, students will gather pledges from friends and family for specific dollar amounts per page or books read during the read-a-thon. Booster’s platform focuses on minutes read, so the size of the book or reading level of the participants doesn’t impact a school’s fundraising success.  

During a read-a-thon, students can choose from various books at the school library and track how much they read. To make monitoring their reading more manageable  (and fun) consider using an online fundraising tracker However, the online fundraiser tracking can add fun ways to incentivize students and make minutes or books read easier than ever for you to track. 

If you’d rather go the old fashion way, you could make readerer-tracking templates that students can use. A simple spreadsheet with fun colors or illustrations can go a long way in making the read-a-thon fun and engaging for students.

How to get the community involved

Friends and family of students are often quick to get involved in school fundraisers, but what about the rest of the community? After all, chances are there are a lot of people in your area who may not have family members who are school-age but would be happy to help support the community’s youth.

Here are some tips on how to get more people in the broader community involved with your read-a-thon.

Develop business partnerships

Local businesses can be valuable contributors to your school’s fundraising goals! From soccer teams to library programs, local businesses are often excited about partnering with programs that support children and families in the area. This is a mutually beneficial partnership in a few ways.

It can benefit small businesses to partner with schools because:

  • It promotes their brand to more people and encourages a fun, family-friendly image for the business.
  • Donations may be written off on taxes, which benefits the small business financially.
  • The company can build positive relationships with children who will eventually become adults in the community the business serves.

It can benefit the school to partner with local small businesses because:

  • Creating an association with that business can lead to reminders about school functions and needs whenever community members see an advertisement for the business.
  • Companies may be willing to match the other donations raised during fundraisers, effectively doubling the impact of donations to help your school.
  • Businesses can provide additional support to students through programs like career days.

All in all, if you know of a small local business or even a larger business’s location that might be interested in supporting your school’s fundraising efforts, it’s a great idea to reach out! Even if they don’t say yes at first, building a relationship with the owner or manager can help you work toward a long-term partnership.

Coordinate with other community programs

Your local park district and the local library could be valuable resources! They probably interact regularly with community members who may not have school-age kids but younger kids who will later attend the school. They also will have connections in the community and foot traffic that will make it easy to promote there is a school fundraiser going on.

How to plan a successful read-a-thon

When it comes to fundraisers, planning is essential. After all, raising money is hard when no one knows you’re doing it! Making sure everything is planned out and communicated to students and parents well in advance is the first step to ensuring your fundraiser is as successful as possible.

Whether this is your first school fundraiser or you’ve been organizing them for years, there are some helpful tips you can follow to help everything go smoothly:

  1. Put together a committee. While the whole PTA or PTO may be involved in the fundraiser, it can be valuable to establish a core committee that can make last-minute decisions and collaborate on the details. You can assemble a larger group of volunteers later if you need event-day help, but for most of the planning phase, you can get a lot done with three to five people collaborating.
  2. Clearly define the goal of the fundraiser. How much money do you want to raise, and what impact will that money have? For example, are you raising money for art supplies, science lab equipment, or a new gym floor? How will those things enhance the education of the school’s students and make life easier for the teachers? Answering these questions will help you set a clear financial goal for people to reach and allow parents and family members to see the value achieving that goal will have on the student's education.
  3. Create a budget. Is there money to print custom reading trackers for each student, offer prizes for students who reach certain milestones, or other fun bonuses? How will you promote the fundraiser in the local community? Knowing what budget you have to work with for these things will help you plan well and avoid spending too much on less important things.
  4. Develop a timeline. When does this fundraiser need to happen? For example, is there a deadline to accomplish your goal? How much time will you need to promote the school fundraiser to students, parents, and other community members? When will you take the time to acknowledge and thank volunteers and major donors after the fact? It’s essential to map out all of these details to make sure everything happens in the proper order, and that everyone has enough advance notice to get involved if they want to.
  5. Coordinate with volunteers. Consider sending a survey to parents via email to gather the contact information for potential volunteers. These surveys should also gather relevant information for your volunteer opportunities like their availability and skill sets.
  6. Promote your campaign. While kids are quick to tell their friends and family as they remember, it’s also important to promote your fundraiser in other ways! Some helpful ways to promote school fundraisers include: 
    1. Putting up flyers on cork boards at popular local places, such as coffee shops, libraries, and religious organizations.
    2. Sending emails to parents of students, both current and past.
    3. Adding a pop-up or header to the PTA/PTO website.
    4. Posting on all school social media, including pages for sports teams and after-school programs. 
    5. Adding information about the fundraiser to the school website.
  7. Make sure students can access lots of books. If your school library is relatively small, it may be a good idea to inform students of other ways to access books to read during the read-a-thon! For example, letting them know about your local public library and how to get a library card could help them get books your school doesn’t have. Another resource you can share with students is the location of any Little Free Library boxes in the area, as that’s another way to access books for free. 

A book swap could also be a fun idea! Students who want to participate can bring a book to give away and trade with other students, so everyone ends up with a new-to-them book to read.

  1. Review your fundraiser’s successes and mistakes afterward. Get together with the planning committee after the fundraiser has ended to review what worked well and what areas have room for improvement for the next fundraiser. No matter how successful your fundraiser is, there are probably a few learning opportunities that could make your next fundraiser even more successful!
  2. Use a fundraising platform. There are many benefits to using great school fundraising software, from simplifying pledges to collecting payments online instead of juggling a mess of dollar bills and checks. Make sure you’ve found great software, like MyBooster, to keep your fundraiser fun and effective!

How to run a read-a-thon with Booster

Booster helps PTAs, PTOs, and everyone involved in school fundraising to make the process easy and fun. After all, the less time you spend gathering resources and figuring out a structure for the fundraiser, the more you can spend going out and getting pledges for participating students!

Using Booster’s MyBooster fundraising platform will allow you to skip the hassle of paper forms for pledges. That way you won’t miss out on potential donations because a piece of paper was lost in the bottom of a student’s backpack or damaged by a spill.

When you collect donations online, people aren’t limited to the cash they have on hand or whether or not they can find their checkbook. Setting up donations online can also make it easier for family members and friends who don’t live in the area to support the students’ fundraising efforts from across the country - and the world!

And talk about easy! Schools who choose MyBooster can use the platform to automatically track students’ progress toward a fundraising goal instead of having to track and calculate each pledge manually. This way, you can ensure your fundraising progress reports are always accurate and up-to-date.

The benefits are clear! At Booster, We’ve helped over 7,500 schools raise more than $5,000,000,000 in school profit since 2002. Let us help you make sure your fundraiser is as fun and effective as theirs!

Ready to get started?

We can’t wait to help you run a successful read-a-thon fundraiser for your school!  Whether you’ve never run a fundraiser before or you’re a veteran of your PTA/PTO, by planning ahead and working with the Booster school fundraising platform, you are setting yourself up for a fun and successful fundraiser. Our team is committed to helping you maximize the impact of this fundraiser to support your students.

To find out more, fill out our contact form here! We’ll make sure you get the support you need.

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