While budgets, schedules, and meetings take up a lot of school administrators’ time, it’s worth noting that there is an untapped resource in your school community that is ready and willing to support your school in helping to face and even overcome its challenges: your students’ support network at home—their fans.
It’s fall and that means it’s football season! Football fans are often called the “twelfth man.” The nickname alludes to the fans’ support as a contributing factor to a team’s success. In unique circumstances, fans could even be called from the stands to fill in for the team when needed, as was the case of now legendary E. King Gill at a 1921 Texas A&M football game. Fans support their teams, and win or lose, it’s a good combination. The game simply wouldn’t be the same without the fans.
Your school community is full of fans—they are your 12th man. They are found in the homes of each student, in the cars in the pickup line, and behind the permission signatures. Parents, guardians, grandparents, and other extended family members encourage and support students day after day. Whoever they are—and despite their varying perspectives and personalities, this one thing they share—they want their students to succeed.
So, how do you reach them?
Effective communication is essential to encourage a cooperative community. Your school’s website is one of the best ways to keep parents and your community informed and empowered.
In this blog, we’ll share some reasons why we think you should consider giving your local parent organization (PTO, PTA, or PTSA) a permanent place on your school website.
Open Up Your Huddle With a PTO Page
Your school website’s PTO page can effectively reach out to parents and families. Hopefully, you’re already connecting with your students’ families via your school website. Having a PTO page helps facilitate conversations, opening your huddle and basically saying, “Hey, here is the need, this is how we hope to satisfy the need,” and most importantly, “let’s do this together, for the students.”
Points to ponder:
- Advantages of online fundraising
- Safer than students walking door to door
- More accessible—donations accepted 24/7 online
- Less costly
- Eco-friendly (less paper, less traveling)
- Reaches beyond the neighborhood to families and friends far away
- Effective ways for schools to raise funds
- Online donations
- Peer-to-peer fundraising
- Content marketing
- Effective branding
- Fundraising metrics—progress bar, leaderboard, or scratch card
- funds raised (show goal and actual)
- impact raised (i.e., how much $50 can do)
- Calls to action
- Social media marketing
- School fundraising events and ideas
- Restaurant Night: Arrange with a restaurant to donate a portion of the earnings for one evening, and encourage students and their families and friends to eat at the restaurant that evening.
- Read-a-thon: Family members and friends pledge donations based on how much the students commit to read.
- Walk-a-thon: Family members and friends pledge donations based on how much the students commit to walk.
- Pizza Lunch: Coordinate a lunch where a few volunteers bring hot pizza to the school lunchroom. Let the students know in advance so they can plan to purchase pizza for lunch.
- Dress Down Day or Hat Day: Schools with a uniform policy invite students to dress casual one day every month for a small donation to the PTO. Non-uniform schools invite students to make donations for the privilege to wear a hat.
- 50/50 raffle: Half the pot goes to the winner, and the rest goes to PTO.
- Grade vs. Grade: Host a week-long event, a run or a walk between the grades or classes, and challenge them to raise more funds than each other for bragging rights at the school.
- School Art Show: With the purchase of an admission ticket, offer a hosted display of your students’ artwork or charge for refreshments.
- Bake Sale: The school community, parents, and students bake and sell goods to sell at the school or a local market.
- Silent Auction: Parents help secure donations from local vendors and businesses to create gift baskets for silent bidding.
- Box Tops are always a good option and available online now.
If you have made space for a PTO page on your school website already and are wondering what your next step could be, we’ll let you in on some ways you can reach out to your 12th man through your school website. You’ll also see how some schools have connected with the community by engaging and encouraging cooperation among families in the school community.
- Your school image is affected by your fundraising efforts. Be mindful not to burden your 12th man with sales pitch after sales pitch. Schools are not the only ones on tight budgets. Remember that the kinds of fundraisers your school chooses and the way they are run affects your school’s marketing efforts and reputation. Less is more in this case. Select fewer, more profitable school fundraisers.
Consider your past fundraisers. How successful were they? Has your school done the same thing for years? Is it time to take a new approach or stick with what you’ve been doing? It wouldn’t hurt to survey your parents to ask if it’s time for a change.
- Effectively using your school website as a fundraising tool has its perks. At School Webmasters, we understand schools need fundraisers to bridge budgetary gaps and cover basic needs such as technology, supplies, enrichment, after-school activities, and more. But parents may not understand the need for fundraisers. Use your PTO page on your school website to share the vision of your school’s fundraisers. Make it easy and even engaging for your 12th man to show their support across the board.
It’s always a good idea to communicate the reason for the fundraiser as well as exactly how you will use the funds. When families understand about the money being collected, they are more likely to open their hearts and their wallets.
When you have a fundraiser, make it easy to donate or purchase by letting parents, teachers, and community members pay online!
- Getting help with your fundraiser. When fundraising, it’s important to plan in advance and get started early, building a solid group with solid team players of three personalities:
- The Boss: someone who will monitor fundraising milestones, be in charge of deadlines, and keep the team and your school community in line with the schedule
- The Marketer: someone who can connect and communicate via face-to-face apps as well as eblasts and other communications
- The Accountant: someone who can count and keep track of money movement
- Make a connection. Monday through Friday, students and faculty leave their varying support networks at home to spend the days at school. While there, noteworthy, inspiring stories unfold within the classrooms and hallways. As many of the students and faculty and their families in your school community regularly face challenges, big and small, school successes can be of paramount importance in their everyday lives.
When your school community experiences the support of the PTO and feels an emotional connection to the work it does, they’ll be more likely to get involved and become your 12th man. It takes time and effort to communicate effectively, but connecting with the community by engaging and encouraging your school community is well worth the effort.
Here is an example of a school that are taking advantage of a PTO webpage on their school’s website.
- Capitan Municipal schools in New Mexico has an informative PTA page. We like how the school’s PTA succinctly shares the big picture for the school year in a variety of ways. First, the website includes easy contact information for the PTA board. Second, it explains what the PTA does and doesn’t do. And third, it lists the school programs and events that are sponsored and/or supported by the PTA. From just one page, the school community gets information and perspective.
The PTA at Capitan Municipal schools sponsors events connected to the school for the students, staff, and families. Some of the activities listed on the website include: Bring Dad to School Day, Mom’s Breakfast, Boo Hoo Breakfast, Staff Appreciation Events, Book Fairs, Speech Contests, Food Drives, and Angel Trees. The PTA also supports school events such as the Veteran’s Assembly and Reception, Math and Science Nights, Field Trips, and Positive Behavior Program.
One way the school could continue to make the most of their PTA page is to list the dates of the events. And, once an event is over, sharing a story about the event and it’s success would be a wonderful way to report on the fundraiser.
Need More Ideas?
Our best piece of fundraising advice is to set goals, establish realistic expectations, involve the students, and express gratitude for those who help in various ways. If you’re still struggling to decide what to do, use our free Marketing Your School survey template to reach out and get some solid ideas.
You’re also welcome to check out our Pinterest board for Fundraising Tips and Ideas.
Don’t Have a PTO Page Yet?
School Webmasters can help. When we design a school website, we provide them with current and relevant information. We specialize in helping you create effective communication strategies to engage your school community. Whether your school has a PTO, rural school association, education organization, sports team, church, PAC, BOCES or educational service center, we can take your school to the next level with a mobile-friendly, responsive school website.
How We Do It
At School Webmasters, our professional copywriters work with template or custom website designs and then keep these websites current and updated for our clients year after year. No matter what type of school website you are looking for, we’ve got you covered, either with a customizable or a fully custom website design.
We can also help you create your own online spirit store so you can sell school items from your website (t-shirts, mugs, and more)—and you keep the proceeds!
Online Fundraising Is the Way to Go
Many tools are at your disposal to market your fundraiser. Don’t forget your website! Use your school’s website to create a buzz about your fundraisers. Keep your families up to date with all the latest news including event dates, goals, progress, and results. Use graphics on your website to illustrate how much you have currently raised and how far you still have to go. Remember, fundraisers work better when donors understand where their money is going.
Let’s be real. I tear up every time I watch “Rudy.” Somewhere towards the end of the movie, I lose it, partly from the music, but mostly when considering the story I’m watching really happened. About when the leaves on the trees go from varied greens to red, yellow, and orange, we snuggle in for a movie about an underdog transfer student at Notre Dame who dreams of making the football team. Watching Sean Astin play the role of Rudy, I can’t help but feel like I’m in the stands, one of the team’s 12th men, cheering him on. The story of Rudy Ruettiger moves me every time.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Keep families informed and provide opportunities and reasons to be involved.