Four Online Fundraising Tools for Schools

PTAs and school foundations have become invaluable partners to school districts, especially in states where districts are not permitted to directly conduct fundraising campaigns. Here in New York, where the laws prohibit districts from fundraising, PTAs and school foundations have pitched in and raised money for everything from iPads and graphing calculators to field trips and enrichment programs.

This is where the online and mobile universe can play a vital role. Fundraising sites, social media communities and mobile apps provide PTAs, education foundations and school districts with exciting fundraising opportunities — without having to knock on your neighbors’ doors or print a single flyer.

Here are four online fundraising tools well worth looking into:

Razoo: This website allows PTAs and other non-profits to create team fundraising pages and to accept donations on their own websites, thanks to an embeddable widget. Razoo provides you with page templates, and your campaign can be integrated with any Facebook page. Razoo also helps organizations send thank you notes to donors, track donations using an online dashboard and download its iPhone app. Razoo charges a flat 2.9-percent administrative fee on the total amount of money you raise. Take a look at how the Spring Glen School PTA in Hamden, Conn., has used its Razoo page here.

GoFundMe: This is a “crowdfunding” website that makes it easy to build a fundraising page, set your fundraising goals and share your campaign with others on a Facebook page, through Twitter and elsewhere. GoFundMe includes a category called “Education, Schools and Learning,” which can mean many things. But plenty of schools, classes and even individual teachers have created successful fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe. The site charges a five-percent transaction fee on each donation made, but if nobody donates, you’re not charged.

Givezooks: This website offers non-profits two types of campaigns: long-term fundraising initiatives and single events. Donors then select what they’d like to support. Long-term campaigns can cost between $129 a month for fundraising goals of up to $500,000 and $499 a month for a campaign with a goal of raising $5 million. If you’re running a one-time event fundraiser, however, Givezooks just charges you its 2.5% transaction fee.

Shoparoo: Inspired by Box Tops for Education, this mobile app lets people raise funds for schools by taking pictures of their grocery receipts. Every school in the U.S., from kindergarten to 12th grade, is listed on the app, and the user is able to select the local school they would like to support each time they make a qualified purchase. Purchases under $10 convert into a one-cent donation, those between $10 and $49 convert into a two-cent donation, purchases of $50 to $99 provide a four-cent donation, and purchases of more than $100 mean a six-cent donation. If your school hasn’t signed up to participate, you might want to tell them about the app. According to Shoparoo, more than 200 schools are using it in 2013-14.

Five ways to persuade your team that social media is a good idea

This month I started a new job with a school district that has never had a public relations program before. Like many districts, they are so focused on education they have not tried using social media to communicate with parents.

Only three of us on the district leadership team are social media users, so I had my work cut out for me. Where to begin? Here are five strategies I used to persuade leadership that Facebook and Twitter are must-have communication tools:

1) Start with research: I began with a survey of district leaders to find out their communication needs. Communicating with younger parents and increasing two-way communications both emerged as priorities for the team. I used this information and statistics on social media users to make my case.

2) Find your tech allies: On our staff retreat, I soon discovered which members of the team are fellow techies, who see the value of using new communication strategies. Having people in multiple roles voice their support for social media demonstrated a variety of possible uses, from emergency announcements to testing reminders and volunteer recruitment.

3) Point out safeguards: Because I could speak from past experience, I was able to address the group’s fears and questions. I explained the options available to page managers, from controlling whether others can post photos on your site to deleting the rare offensive post to blocking repeat offenders. I also shared an example of site rules, and made a commitment to close monitoring.

4) Tell them a story: After sharing examples of the use of Twitter and Facebook in dealing with school district incidents and controversy (from the local mall shooting to budget cut rumors), they started to understand the advantages social media could bring to district communications.

5) Promise to share: Remind them that just because the district is on social media, they don’t have to be. By making a commitment to keep them informed of both controversies and compliments that bubble up on social media, the leadership team felt included in the benefits of social media without being pressured into becoming users of it.

Did it work? Here’s proof positive: www.facebook.com/GladstoneSchoolDistrict.

Back-to-School Social Content

Wednesday was the first day of school in the Park Hill School District, and we’re taking advantage of the increased attention and excitement to engage patrons using our social channels.

On our Facebook page, we had a reach of 4,046 on our first-day photo album. We used the what-does-this-have-to-do-with-me strategy, going to every school so that parents and students would look for pictures of themselves and the people they know.

FB

Yesterday, we posted our annual photo album of first-day photos submitted by parents, which is always a big hit.

On all our channels, including Twitter and YouTube, we have been talking about the summer preparations for the new school year. We also used Twitter to share a great story one of our local TV stations did on the first day.

twitter

And in our Instagram feed, we showed the same kinds of stories, but focused on middle-school students because this age group likes to interact on this platform.

instagram

What content are you using in your social channels to take advantage of the increased back-to-school attention?

Keep Social Media Thriving at the End of the Summer

While school is in session, it is easy to find content to keep users visiting school social media sites. However, the trick is to keep users visiting your page, even when school is out of session. Not having ongoing student activities can sometimes present a struggle for generating social media content. Here are some ideas to create content during the waning summer months:

  • If your district has a summer school program, posts photos or articles from these activities.
  • Did your district recently pass a bond issue or referendum? Are you opening a new building? Get people excited about the changes by posting photos or updates about where you are in the construction process.
  • Does your district put on any summer camps or host a summer library program? Promote these events by telling people when they are, explaining how to sign up and sharing photos of those involved.
  • Do you have a new superintendent, principal or central office administrator? Post a picture and short profile of individuals to introduce that person to the community.
  • Post reminders about school start dates, school supply lists, school physicals or anything else students in your district need to know to get ready for the start of school again.
  • To encourage parents to keep their children engaged over the summer, post daily educational activities. This can be science experiments or a link to an educational site with games. The point is to get students learning without them realizing they are.

Time to Remind: Spreading the Word on Social Media

You may post to your school Facebook page dozens of times a day, send the most creative and useful tweets, and have the most active Instagram account of any school district around, but that doesn’t mean that your community knows that. With new parents coming in and a summer lull about to end, it’s prime time to remind folks you are on social media.

Here are some tips to spread the word:

  1. Publications. Find ways to print and post details about your accounts. Our district will print its first back-to-school guide that will be given to parents at registration. I’m including an entire page on what social media we use, how we use it and ideas on how parents can use it.
  2. QR codes. This will target your younger, more techy crowd, but it will get them to your page. Include a QR code on your district brochure, the front door to your school, the back of your football tickets, etc. Put a catchy slogan with it to entice passerbys to scan it.
  3. Email signature. Include a link at the bottom of your email that links to your Facebook page or Twitter feed. Mine says “Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @HuttoISD.” Super simple!
  4. Like, follow and tag other well-read pages. The Hutto community reads a blog called “What Happens in Hutto.” And now they read the Hutto ISD page, because I frequently tag “What Happens in Hutto” in status updates, tweets and photos. The administrator of that page will share it out and spread the word!
  5. Use built-in tools. At the top of your Facebook page is a button that says “Build Your Page.” Click it. Then choose how you want to boost your likes. Hutto recently sent out an email to parents by importing a contact list. Simple.