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About Read-A-Thon Fundraising Company

I started to envision Read-a-thon as a website around 2005. I don't remember the exact date I purchased the domain name. But I really believed the school fundraising industry was growing desperate for a better way for elementary schools and PTA/PTO groups to raise money.

You see I own Easy Fundraising Ideas and some of the other top product fundraising websites so I have had a front row seat to watch the fundraising industry age and mature. Our companies help more than 10,000 groups every single year raise more than $10,000,000. I tell you that because I want you to know we do understand fundraising, fundraising products and the difficulty schools have raising money these days.

Vision for Read-a-thon

I am a member of the Association of Fundraising Distributors and Suppliers (AFRDS), the main industry trade group. At one point I was asked to serve on their technology committee because our websites were considered leaders in the industry.

But all I ever heard at AFRDS meetings were doom and gloom stories from the people who were focusing on elementary and middle schools and their parent groups. Sales were down. Participation was down. There was no excitement anymore. That was the conversation year after year after year.

So we decided to step back and revisit the read-a-thon concept and how much sense it made for student groups in those key grade levels. Reading, after all, was a critical part of life in school. If we could create a turn key system where schools could raise the money they needed focusing on reading we believed we could breathe some new life into school fundraising.

So that became our vision. We wanted to become a natural fundraising tool that could be seamlessly integrated into daily school life. In fact we didn't even want it to feel like a fundraiser. We wanted it to be a reading project that friends and family could support.

Readathons Can Raise Lots of Money

We talked to lots of principals and PTA board members as we developed our system. Nearly all had said the amount of money they were able to raise with a single fundraiser was dropping each year.

So we started running the numbers on the potential of this fundraiser might have:

Start with a 1,000 student elementary school.

Get each student to agree to complete 10 reading sessions in a two week period.

Using our promotional tools each reader gets at least 10 people to pledge $2.50 for each reading session.

How much money do you think that school would raise?

The answer is $250,000.

Now we know 100% participation isn't going to happen. But what level would be reasonable? And could we effect that percentage?

We Make Participating Fun

We knew reading was the right product so the challenge was maxing out participation levels. We tackled that from two angles.

First we looked at getting the most readers possible. In order to get the greatest number of readers we created group reading sessions where all the readers would read at the same time either during class or outside of the classroom. Administrators can take attendence and then start a group reading session timer which upon completion would give credit to each reader in attendance. If we could get all the students in a school reading we knew we were half way home.

So the challenge was motivating readers to get sponsors. The answer to that challenge was easy. We would pay the readers to get sponsors! But we would pay them in RAT Bucks - our own currency that they could use to buy fun prizes in our prize center.

We created lots of incentives that offered RAT Bucks. If a reader completed their personal page they'd get some bonus bucks. If they get 5 sponsors they get another bonus. Of course we were paying RAT Bucks for every sponsor they signed up but we enhanced that by making the system progressive. As you got more sponsors each additional sponsor would be worth more bucks. For example we pay 100 Bucks for each of the first 5 sponsors but the 6th sponsor would be worth 150 bucks.

We Help Manage Your Read-a-thon

Having helped more than 50,000 different groups raise money we were able to study the differences between successful and less successful fundraising groups. We discovered the obvious. Better managed fundraisers produced better results.

So we built in all the management tools groups would need to run successful campaigns. We send daily reminders to readers, teachers and administrators that include up to date results, suggestions, tips and incentives. There are detailed reports available in management dashboards and a complete set of tools to help run your readathon.

You Can Trust Our System

It was important to tell you a little bit about our company and our history so that you would understand how involved with school fundraising we've been for more than 10 years. Read-a-thon was built on the knowledge gained from first hand experience helping more than 50,000 different groups.

But, more importantly, I as well as most of the employees at our companies are parents and have first hand experience with fundraising for school aged kids.

We strongly believe our read-a-thon fundraiser is the perfect fundraiser for elementary and middle school aged children and hope you will consider holding one for your group.


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