PledgeStar Helps Florida School Save Recess

1241When Stephany Dawson took over as co-chair of Cypress Elementary School’s annual Eaglethon fun run, she had one goal in mind: bring recess back to the school. The school’s playground facilities were virtually nonexistent, and students weren’t afforded the luxury of unstructured play. This led Dawson and other parent volunteers to take up the cause themselves.

3615Dawson was introduced to the PledgeStar online fundraising system by her co-chair on the Eaglethon board. After extensively comparing PledgeStar’s pricing and features to other fundraising companies, the Cypress Elementary parents knew it offered the most bang for their buck. “The fact that PledgeStar costs a maximum of $695 made the decision easy,” reveals Dawson.

In preparation for Eaglethon, Dawson and her staff set up a unique prize system designed to maximize student donation requests. “We gave prizes to the kids, but what really helped us was awarding prizes to the teachers who motivated their students to seek the most donations.” Massages, facials, and other rewards were raffled off to the Cypress Woods faculty members whose classes sent the most donation requests.

This year’s Eaglethon was a massive success, earning the school over $45,000, more than doubling the previous year’s profits. The fundraiser’s success initiated a multi-year project to completely revamp the school’s recreation area. Shaded spaces, basketball courts, athletic fields, and playground areas will soon be enjoyed by the student body of Cypress Woods; a massive victory for Dawson and the parent volunteers that worked tirelessly to make the 2017 Eaglethon fundraiser the best one yet.

Long Beach Cub Scouts Smash Fundraising Goals With PledgeStar

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Tom Renger became familiar with the PledgeStar fundraising system during his time as Kettering Elementary School’s PTA Treasurer. Their Fit Fest Fundraiser was a massive success, prompting Renger to apply PledgeStar’s services to his Cub Scout Pack’s annual Poinsettia Fundraiser.

In years past, Cub Scout Pack members would go door to door in their community, seeking donations for their pack and selling poinsettias to give to a local church, as well as a veteran’s hospital, to spread some holiday cheer.

This year, with the help of PledgeStar’s online fundraising, Renger and his scouts were able to reach out to family members and friends from across the country making this fundraiser their best one yet.

By the end of the fundraiser, Renger was pleasantly surprised his pack had raised over $12,000, a figure that doubled proceeds from years past. With the extra money the scouts earned, they were able to purchase a new Pinewood Derby track and other campout necessities.

“By using PledgeStar we doubled our profits with half the effort,” recalled Renger, praising PledgeStar’s convenience and ease of use. Renger was also impressed with PledgeStar’s guidance and customer service throughout the event. “My emails were answered immediately, and help was just a phone call away. PledgeStar truly is a game-changer.”

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M-O-N-E-Y For the Win! Playa Del Rey Spell-A-Thon

pdr-elementary-logo-outlinesThe winners of the 2016 Playa del Rey Elementary School Spell-A-Thon weren’t just the top spellers in each class. The entire school won this year when they almost quadrupled their past earnings and brought in over $17,000 in donations! Kids were thrilled about the exciting magic show they were awarded as one of the cool Spell-A-Thon prizes. Teachers and parents were pleased with the extra funds for physical education, Art Masters, teaching supplies, a garden program and much more.

The Spell-A-Thon is an annual fundraiser organized by the school’s Booster Club. It was held in November 2016 and the parents, teachers and students are still reaping its benefits.

While only about $4,000 was collected in the 2015 Spell-A-Thon, the 2016 revenue enabled incredible prizes like a Chromebook for the top earner, a Kindle for second place and a classroom Chromebook for any class that raised over $2,000. Moreover, students in kindergarten through fifth grade invested countless hours learning their unique spelling words for the competitions that took place in their classrooms. This fundraiser was undoubtedly a win-win for all involved.

What, then, could have quadrupled the amount of money the school brought in from one year to the next? The answer is PledgeStar. While the Booster Club was able to bring in about $4,000 offline as they had done in years past, online donations through PledgeStar added about $13,000 to the total money collected in 2016. After paying for prizes and a mere $695 for PledgeStar, the school was able to keep $15,000 for programs and educational resources.

Because the club had unsuccessfully tried raising money online before, they were wary that no one would participate, and the investment in an online fundraising system wouldn’t be worth the cost. With PledgeStar, though, fundraisers are only charged 7% of their schools’ donations, up to a maximum of $695. “It ended up being a really good choice,” McReynolds remarked, “we’ll definitely be using PledgeStar for our April Jog-A-Thon.”

McReynolds and other Booster Club members said getting starting with PledgeStar was easy. The volunteers created exciting incentives for students to use the PledgeStar online fundraising system. Every student that simply sent ten pledge requests to friends and family using PledgeStar was invited to attend the magic show school assembly. While McReynolds said that they didn’t expect much response, the magic show was “a huge motivator.” As a result, about half of the students used PledgeStar – a number that will undoubtedly increase when Playa del Rey uses it for their next pledge drive.

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SUMAC Elementary Nearly Doubles Their Fundraising Goal

jog-a-thon-logo-finalIn 2015, SUMAC Elementary School raised close to $40,000 at their annual Jog-A-Thon fundraiser. Unfortunately, the school ended up keeping only half of those funds. The full-service fundraising company they hired to run their Jog-A-Thon charged fifty percent of all earnings – in this case, around $20,000!

The next year, parent volunteer Megan Glynn said enough parents had voiced concern about where their donations were going for her to know that changes needed to be made.

In the spring of 2016, the school’s leadership made a small decision that created big waves: they would plan and execute the Jog-A-Thon without the help of a full-service fundraising company in order to maximize the donors’ contribution to the school. And maximize they did!

The Parent Faculty Association set a goal of $20,000, the amount they kept the previous year. With PledgeStar’s unique fundraising system, they ended up raising – and keeping – almost twice as much! With almost no changes in strategy, marketing, incentives and effort from previous years, the school was able to raise nearly $40,000 and pay only $695 (compared to nearly $20,000) when they used PledgeStar.

“PledgeStar just blew our goal out of the water,” said Glynn, “I know that it was the reason we were so successful.”

Glynn said she was also impressed with the help and tips she received from PledgeStar support. They gave her advice like keeping their fundraising site open even after their event had finished and other great suggestions to make the fundraiser more successful.

“I knew that for us to be successful doing this in-house, PledgeStar was the only way to go.”

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Groveland Elementary School’s Inaugural Read-A-Thon A Great Success!

GROVELANDFor their fall fundraiser, Groveland Elementary volunteers wanted to do something unique and unprecedented in their school’s history. Not only did they want to raise money for their academic programs, but they also wanted to incorporate a learning initiative in the fundraising process. The result was a highly successful month-long Read-A-Thon, a fun and educational way to get students involved in meeting the school’s financial needs.

Parent volunteers created a Read-A-Thon theme using the popular book “Where the Wild Things Are” to creatively market the event at school. Even the informational video shown at the kick-off assembly was created to match the “Wild Things” theme, along with promotional T-shirts and fun prizes for participants.

“The kids celebrated the start of the the Read-a-Thon with a ‘Dress Up as Your Favorite Book Character Day,’” said parent volunteer Celeste Hill, “It increased awareness of the new Read-a-Thon event and also served to get the kids excited about it.”

Hill had been researching innovative ways to raise money on the popular social networking site, Pinterest. As she searched for Read-A-Thon ideas, she came across a pin for PledgeStar, an online platform for fundraising that could simplify the process and generate income from donors outside the Groveland Elementary student population.

Read-a-thon“As committee chair, I was tasked with vetting PledgeStar,” said Hill, “That involved researching their company online, as well as calling and interviewing a few schools which had already used their services.”

Hill and other Groveland collaborators were very pleased with the results of their decision. At $72,000, not only did they almost double the amount of money they raised previously, but they were able to reward students with exciting prizes for their efforts, too.

Hill recounted, “We had a raffle drawing three times per week, individual prizes and class prizes. The class which earned the most received a tour of the school roof. Also, the top fifty fundraisers and top ten readers received a thirty minute visit to a video game truck that came to the school. This was a highly popular incentive.”

“We received excellent feedback on how simple PledgeStar was for everyone, even those who were not technologically inclined,” said Hill. “The support from PledgeStar is phenomenal. They are extremely responsive and work very proactively. They gave us good advice and information on what has worked best for other schools. We are already planning for next fall’s Read-a-Thon with PledgeStar.”

Del Mar Schools Education Foundation Fills Gaps Left By State Budget Cuts

DMSEFFifteen years ago, when the State of California budget cuts threatened to limit K-12 students’ access to extra-curricular subjects like music and art, a group of concerned parents decided they wanted more for their children.

Along with the Del Mar Union School District, the parents worked to establish the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation (DMSEF), a not-for-profit organization whose sole function would be to raise money for credentialed music, art, technology, physical education and science teachers for each of the eight schools in the district.

While California schools are mandated to include these subjects in their regular curricula, the budget cuts had left these areas up to the classroom teacher to cover, cutting the credentialed musicians, artists and PE teachers from the payroll. Since 2000, DMSEF has helped fill in the gap where the state finances could not.

Funding the extracurricular programs for all eight schools in the district is not cheap, however. For the thirty-four specialized teachers employed, the DMSEF raises over $1 million of philanthropic money annually to cover its portion of the bill. To do so, every school in the district holds annual auctions, Jog-A-Thons and donation drives, the proceeds of which are collected by DMSEF and equally dispersed to each school for the specialized teachers’ salaries.

Last year, after two schools in the district had great success using PledgeStar online fundraising for their Jog-A-Thons, the foundation’s board members were convinced that using PledgeStar would be a smart choice to meet their ambitious 2015 goal of $2 million.

Parent volunteer Dave Wojtkowski said that not only did the district substantially increase its revenues from the Jog-A-Thons using PledgeStar this year, but the man hours spent tracking and managing the monies collected for his school alone were drastically reduced thanks to the online system. “When we were doing all paper fundraising we spent at least twenty hours gathering information before the event and then compiling it after. Now we don’t do any of that. With PledgeStar, the work is maybe three hours total…I would say PledgeStar is money well-spent.”

Allen Elementary Keeps the Fun in Fundraising

Run_for_The_Gold_logoTo make sure their 5th Annual “Run for the Gold” Jog-A-Thon event was fun for all her students, Principal Teresa Wilkinson of Allen Elementary School made sure they all had a chance to win prizes even if they were not able to fundraise for the event.

She encouraged students to bring in donations to help raise money for a new campus playground, which was the purpose of the run this year. For every $50 donation, students were given a raffle ticket, increasing their chances of winning prizes with each pledge. Students who did not collect donations, though, were still given a raffle ticket. VP of Fundraising, Chancy Green, said that maintaining school spirit and making everyone feel included was more important to the principal than dollar amounts raised.

Green, along with PTO members, used fun incentives to keep the students excited for the event. Classes with the highest percentage of participants, not the highest amount of money raised, were awarded a popsicle party and one lucky raffle winner became the principal for a day.

“Our principal is very particular about making sure everyone is included…because some people have the means to contribute more… it’s not fair, you know. Some kids just can’t do it. Giving each student a chance keeps them all motivated,” said Green.

The PTO also introduced a few changes to the Run For The Gold this year. To celebrate its 5th anniversary, the event was themed a “color run”, which involved dousing students in different colored corn starch  as they ran along the track, resulting in a messy, colorful, exciting day for students and grown-ups alike.

photo 1This was also the first year that Allen Elementary collected donations online using PledgeStar in addition to the traditional paper pledge packets. With $25,000 raised online, PledgeStar increased the school’s revenue this year by an impressive 131% while it greatly reduced the volunteer workload for tracking money and prizes.

“PledgeStar was fabulous to work with.” remarked Green, “There just isn’t anybody out there who will do what they do for such a low fee.They don’t punish you if you make more money. We thought their pricing model was great.”