The best way to get inspired for your Fun Run or other a-thon fundraiser is to look around and see what other creative and hard-working parent groups are doing! While we frequently highlight the schools who have teamed up with us on our Facebook or Twitter pages, we also wanted to take the time to compile some of our favorite student incentives, a-thon themes, and promotions to help encourage & inspire our readers.
Student Incentives: These are the prizes and experience-based awards that take your fundraiser to the next level. Want to know why we love experiences as rewards for students? Check out our article on Student Fundraising Incentives.
A-thon Themes: Whether it’s through a creative name or a creative twist on classic a-thon fundraisers, fun themes can catch the attention of parents and get students even more motivated for your fundraiser. Whether your a-thon theme is based on school spirit, mixing different types of a-thon fundraising, or simply adding a whole lot of colored powder to your Fun Run (check out our partner, Color Blaze, for a great deal!), these innovative themes keep each fundraising season fresh and exciting!
Fundraising Promotions: Promoting your a-thon fundraiser is the key to reaching (and exceeding) your fundraising goal. It is what gets students registered, it’s what gets parents motivated, and its what brings in those donations. Promoting your fundraiser can range from displaying a leader board for the top raisers in your school, utilizing the power of social media, creating videos and morning announcements, and even getting your school mascot involved to spread the word. We have some great examples of creative and effective fundraising promotions here, but for any of our clients looking for more guided instruction, check out the Promotion folder in the Event Toolbox.
Ready to get inspired? Let’s go!
Fundraising Incentives That Drive Student Involvement
What Is It? Human Hamster Ball lets kids safely roll, bounce, and (try) to run around in giant, inflatable balls.
Why We Love It: If this doesn’t sound like fun for a kid, we’re not sure what does.
How You Can Do It: Human Hamster Balls can be rented through many online & local companies.
What Is It? An afternoon/night of celebration for reaching your school fundraising goal! With a DJ, refreshments, and plenty of white to glow under the blacklight, this is a party that will get any student motivated.
Why We Love It: It has a big motivating factor without breaking the bank. Plus, you can incorporate it into your other incentives, like glow-in-the-dark bracelets, necklaces, glowsticks, etc. to help drive anticipation for the main reward.
How You Can Do It: Book a DJ (or get a parent volunteer), reserve the gym, rent plenty of blacklights, get some flourescent pens & paper for a crafts station, and you’ve got yourself a glow dance party!
What Is It? Your top-raising student gets to be principal for the day! This can mean whatever you want it to mean – like giving the student a badge and having him/her shadow the principal for a day or part of a day. You can also work with administration to make up some small, fun tasks for the student.
Why We Love It: It’s an oldie but a goodie. There’s a reason that this student incentive gets used year after year. We think it has to do with honoring the student who has worked so hard and giving them a day where they get to reap the benefits of that work through a position power… even if just for a day.
How You Can Do It: Make sure to consult your actual prinicipal and to work with him/her to plan out what this day will look like for the student.
What Is It? Every student that raised over $75 was entered into a raffle that included prizes such as lunch with a friend & favorite teacher, principal for the day, a manicure by the principal, and Raven’s Tickets!
Why We Love It: Located in Maryland, Sandymount utilized its proximity to Baltimore to get some tickets to a Raven’s game and raffle them off. We love this idea because it not only gets kids excited, but it also gets parents motivated!
How You Can Do It: Choose a state (or local) team and purchase a set of tickets (2-3) to raffle away. Contact a rep. from the sport’s team to see if you can get the tickets donated (and maybe even get the team mascot to come out to your school to give them away!).
Creative A-Thon Themes That Set Your Fundraiser Apart From the Rest
What Is It? Mixes a traditional Fun Run with mini tournaments and competitions!
Why We Love It: It gets kids moving in different ways and spices up the classic Fun Run while still holdig true to a health-based fundraiser.
How You Can Do It: Decide on 2-3 types of games/competitions for classes to compete in during the Fun Run. The class with the most points at the end of the event can get a special prize.
What Is It? The Round Hill Fun Run Chairperson explains it best:
“We have kids writing letters to wounded veterans, kids of deployed parents, and to deployed military personnel. We had one grade-level make and decorate “busy bags” consisting of coloring pages and crayons to give to kids who are at the hospital waiting to be seen for appointments or procedures. Other grades are doing things to show their appreciation for our local law enforcement and fire departments. At home, the parents are reporting groups of kids getting together to put together Unicef boxes for Halloween, families weeding the school playground over the weekend, kids gathering and sorting winter clothing to donate to the flood victims in West Virginia.”
Why We Love It: A Serve-a-Thon is such a unique twist on a-thon fundraising. Not only does it teach kindness and compassion to students, but it also helps give back during the holiday season. Parents who see your Parent Group initiating such a charitable endeavor will get on board since they see it is about more than raising money for the school, it is also about coming together as a community!
How You Can Do It: Pick a few national and local serving opportunities and strategize ways in which your students can participate, much like Round Hill, in those humanitarian efforts.
What Is It? We’ve all heard of the Color Run, but how about the Foam Run? Students at Frank Black Middle School got to run through Foam Zones on their way to the finish line!
Why We Love It: Kids love getting messy and this is a harmless, fun way to provide the mess while raising interest and involvement in your fundraiser.
How You Can Do It: To provide your own frothy goodness, it is best to rent foam machines and set them up at intervals of your Fun Run course.
What Is It? To take their Walk-a-Thon to the next level, Douglas Elementary brought in live music, face painting, temporary tattoos and more to turn up the notch on event day.
Why We Love It: Providing a party to go a long with your a-thon event is a great way to get more students, parents, staff, faculty, and even community members involved in your fundraiser.
How You Can Do It: Chances are your parent group already provides some sort of party or festival during the year. Consider combining your a-thon event with this pre-planned party so you can bring in donations & celebrate all in one!
What Is It? Royal Oak Middle School, home of the bull dogs, gave their Walk-a-Thon a theme that made it uniquley theirs. By a simple change of a name to Dawg Walk, Royal Oak injected a ton of school spirit into their fundraiser and were able to continue the theme into other areas of their fundraiser, such as their corporate sponsors who were listed according to their level of giving: Pug sponsors, Bulldog sponsors, Rottweiler sponsors, and Great Dane sponsors.
Why We Love It: Sometimes all a fundraiser needs is a unique name and theme to get students excited and to create the feel of ownership over the fundraiser (i.e., this isn’t any ole’ Walk-a-Thon, this is OUR Walk-a-Thon).
How You Can Do It: Got a school mascot? Have a special team or group your school is known for? Any special characterstic for your community? Use these to create a theme and promote your fundraiser through a sense of unity!
Effective Methods for Promoting Your Fundraiser
What Is It? To capture the success of their very first Fun Run, a parent from Wattles Elementary posted a video of the run from a kid’s POV!
Why We Love It: Bringing in donations doesn’t end with event day. There is typically a week or two left after the event for people to donate, and this video is a great way to inspire people to give!
How You Can Do It: Simply run along with the students and record the experience from their level. Or, if you’re really fancy, get a go-pro and strap it on to one of your student runners for a true kid’s perspective.
What Is It? Social media is a tool that you should be using to its full advantage during your fundraiser. Defer Elementary provides a great example of using a Facebook Event Page for their Fun Run that got parents engaged, provided necessary info, kept track of their fundraising progress, and more.
Why We Love It: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. has the potential to reach people far beyond your social circles. By using these online resouces, you can exponentially increase the visibility of your fundraiser and increase opportunities for donations!
How You Can Do It: If your school or parent group has a Facebook page, simply create an event, add an image and description of your event, and constantly point parents to this page to get up-to-date info on your fundraiser!
What Is It? A week before the day of their event, Heritage brought in their mascot, the Saline Hornet (for the Saline area schools) to help spread the word and get students excited!
Why We Love It: Heritage brought in their mascot at the exact right time – a week before the Fun Run. This is a crucial point where you want to build the most excitement and get kids bringing in those last-minute donations.
How You Can Do It: Bring in your own mascot to make the rounds during lunch or to pop his head into classes (with teacher approval) to check with the fundraising progress and get kids excited about the upcoming event.