How to Host a PTA Fundraiser (Step-by-Step Guide)

by Kristine Ensor • Source: Donorbox

Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) are developed to fund additional academic enrichment programs. Activities funded by these groups include field trips or after-school programs in art, drama, sports, or music. PTAs may also support activities to encourage more parent involvement in school activities.

Since PTAs are fully run by parents, fundraising can be terrifying. Many parents have no experience running a fundraising event, and the thought of doing it themselves can be overwhelming. The purpose of this article is to give parents a step-by-step guide to hold their next PTA fundraiser. But first, let us have a look at the rules.

What Rules must the PTA Follow?

pta fundraising rules

PTAs are held to certain standards when fundraising. All funds collected by the PTA belong to the organization, not the school. Each parent group should decide where the money will be spent and should not be used to cover school needs and teacher salaries that community taxes already cover.

When deciding if your PTA should hold a fundraiser, it is best to stick to the 3-to-1 rule. The PTA recommends parent groups hold three non-fundraising programs for every one fundraiser. So, when deciding on what your group hopes to accomplish during the year, the question must be asked if additional funding is required or if the goal can be reached in another way.

The primary funding source for any PTA should be membership fees, but there are times when additional money is needed. In those cases, PTAs must look to the PTA mission and purpose.

All nonprofits have a mission and must keep it in mind when holding various fundraisers. The PTA’s mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. PTA groups can use this mission to find new fundraiser ideas that can help their children thrive.

6 Steps to Hosting a PTA Fundraiser

1. Set a Fundraising Goal

pta fundraiser

Once a parent group decides a fundraiser is necessary, they should determine the financial goal that must be reached. This step may seem simple, especially if your group wants to buy equipment or a trip with a predetermined cost, but a too often forgotten part of defining your financial goal is if you can reach it. A way to decide whether you can reach your financial goal is to research the success and failure of past fundraising events.

The best way to find this information is with a donor management system. If your PTA does not have a donor management system, this is something you will want to rectify. Donorbox offers an affordable donor management system to collect donation amounts and donor contact information. With this system, your PTA can record donor communication and notes about donors’ interests. Your group also receives alerts when parents change or cancel their donation plans.

The information kept in these systems can give your parent group a better idea of how much can be raised from each fundraiser.

2. Choose the Right Type of Event

pta fundraiser

After determining the fundraising amount required, your group will want to find the right fundraiser. There are a few questions to ask before deciding on an event. Some of these will be cost-related, others will focus on the benefit to your community and educational benefit to the children.

2.1 What is the Return on Investment (ROI)?

Everyone understands it takes money to make money. That is especially true with fundraising, but it is essential to hold events with the largest return for a limited cost. It is best practice for nonprofits to pay an average of $0.25 – $0.35 for every dollar earned.

PTAs should do their best to stick with this average, but there are other costs your parent group should keep in mind. Since all PTA members are volunteers, you must include the time required to hold a fundraising event in your return on investment (ROI). If all your members have full-time jobs, it could be too costly to expect members to hold a gala-type fundraising event.

Some tried and true PTA fundraisers are simple but can cost more than the accepted ROI. When selling products like t-shirts or candy, 50% or more of the funds raised go to the product. While the cost is high, the work required to hold this type of event is much less than others.

2.2 Is there more than one way to raise money during this event?

Parents may dismiss a fundraising event idea because of the ROI, but events can include several fundraising options in many cases. An excellent example of this is with a funfair or other outdoor community fundraiser. These events can raise money with ticket prices, raffles, cash and text-to-give donations, and corporate sponsorships. The cost may be high, but you may be able to raise a healthy sum with several fundraising options.

Check this end-of-year event page by Peck Slip PTA. They have myriad programs for kids and families, such as lawn games, papercraft, tattoo stations, snacks, and more. For that, they are selling tickets with a simple donation form. Consider a page like this if you throw an event to raise some extra funds.

online pta fundraisers

2.3 Does the event fit your demographic?

Some fundraisers will have better success in different communities. Before deciding on a specific fundraising event, you should look at your community. What are other nonprofits doing in your area? Do you already have parents excited about a fundraising idea? When determining which fundraising event is the best fit for your PTA, you can sometimes get more from listening to feedback than judging based on cost.

2.4 Are students learning from the fundraising activity?

A crucial question to ask is if the fundraiser you choose is best for the children. Do they learn anything from the event? One of the primary objectives of the PTA is to make children feel important, capable, and part of the community.

When deciding on a fundraiser, PTA groups should not ignore the importance of child involvement. They should keep this in the center of their mind. How can you teach children important financial lessons and community involvement while raising funds for your PTA?

3. Secure Corporate Sponsors

As we have discussed, there are several ways to raise money during a fundraising event. One of the best ways to do this is with corporate sponsorships. Small and major businesses in your community are interested in giving back to the area where they reside. Many of these companies look specifically for children’s groups to support.

After your parent group decides on the event, date, and financial goal, recruit members to connect with various companies. Create a handout giving a background to your group and explain the goal of the upcoming fundraiser. You will also want to include benefits for the companies to catch their interest. Marketing opportunities are the main reason many of these companies offer sponsorships.

Before contacting a corporation, do your due diligence to research the company to ensure it fits with the PTA mission. As part of a national organization, it is vital to work with credible and reliable companies.

For example, the Covenant Christian School has a dedicated sponsorship program called Growing Kids God’s Way through which they offer sponsorship opportunities to various businesses, individuals, and churches. This online page is very straightforward with details, a fundraising thermometer, and a donation form with suggested sponsorship amounts. For your PTA, you can create a similar page and promote the same through online and offline marketing within your community.

online pta fundraisers

4. Promote the Event

pta fundraiser

Fundraising events are only as popular as the people who come to them. Marketing is a crucial part of fundraising. There are several ways to promote a fundraising event, but it is best to focus on who you are speaking to instead of just how.

4.1 Parents

As a PTA, your first audience is your fellow parents. This group has a personal connection to the outcome of your event. Convincing them to participate should not be difficult, so the primary focus on promoting an event to this crowd is getting the word out.

You should be able to find emails and phone numbers for all parents. Send out an email explaining the upcoming event and how it will help their children. By connecting with these parents and explaining the purpose of your fundraiser, you should get good returns.

4.2 Local community

The second audience does not have a direct connection to your group but can equally benefit from the outcome. When promoting your fundraiser with this audience, it is best to clarify what the surrounding area and people can gain from your goal. Give clear examples of how the community benefits.

There are several ways to reach this audience. Local newspapers and radio stations can be an excellent place to start if you do not mind spending some money. More affordable options are posts on FacebookInstagram, and other social media apps. Parents can also connect with this audience through word of mouth and flyers passed out at local businesses.

4.3 Online

This final audience was mostly unreachable before social media. Thanks to the increase in online activity, more people keep in touch with friends and family across the country and even the world. When asking for funds, peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns are successful fundraising options for PTAs.

These campaigns can be held as part of your current fundraiser or as a separate fundraising campaign.

Pro tip: Ask parents to create their own campaign pages online and share why they are fundraising for their children. Keep donors informed on the success of these campaigns to share and entice donors to give to reach their goals.

For example, the below crowdfunding campaign by James John Parent-Teacher Association makes an appeal for donations to help COVID-struck families in the community. With a goal thermometer that creates a sense of urgency, a donor wall to appreciate supporters, an updates tab to post images, videos, or text updates, and social media buttons, this is a really effective option for PTAs.

online pta fundraisers

5. Find Volunteers

pta pto fundraising

Now that you are ready to hold your fundraising event, you will need volunteers. The purpose of these volunteers depends on the type of event. For in-person fairs or dinners, volunteers are needed to sell entry and raffle tickets, set up and clean up, and run event activities. Other fundraisers need volunteers to sell products or share fundraising stories online.

When finding and training volunteers for your fundraiser, it is vital to keep volunteers informed about what is expected and give them the necessary tools to meet your goals and hold successful fundraisers.

6. Assess the Results

pta pto fundraising

After your fundraiser is finished, your PTA is not done. If you reached your financial goal, you need to track how and where you collected your funds. What successes did you have, and where did you fail to reach your goals? This information should be collected and stored in your donor management system and kept for future fundraising campaigns.

Remember to collect more than just financial information. Here are a few things to keep track of when monitoring the success or failure of your event:

  • What was the ROI?
  • Was there an increase in event attendees or donors?
  • What was the average gift amount?
  • What was the feedback from the community?
  • Did the fundraiser help fulfill the PTA’s mission?
  • Did the children learn and grow from the experience?