13 “A-Thon” Fundraising Ideas for Schools & PTA/PTO Groups

by | Jan 20, 2023 | Best Fundraising Idea Lists, Fundraising Ideas, School Fundraisers | 0 comments

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You’ve probably heard of popular “a-thon” type fundraisers like read-a-thons and walk-a-thons. They’re great ways to fundraise because:

  1. You can do them with almost any activity.
  2. They have huge fundraising potential.

You can choose almost any activity for an a-thon, so you can customize them based on what’s popular at your school.

An a-thon also allows you to reach a much larger donor pool than conventional fundraisers. Each participant fundraises individually through peer-to-peer fundraising, so you reach an exponential amount of donors. 

Instead of just reaching people who attend the fundraiser, you’ll reach the family, friends, and coworkers of each participant.

Another perk is a-thons don’t force you to sell a fundraising product. And because participants are “working” for the donations, most people are happy to support the cause.

The most complicated part of an a-thon is choosing what activity you want to do! Here are 13 “a-thon” fundraisers and how they work.

kids reading

Read-a-Thon Fundraiser 

A read-a-thon is probably the most popular type of a-thon fundraiser, and for a good reason. Read-a-thons are great because they help raise money and encourage reading. Most donors feel the same way and are more than happy to support students to read more. 

Read-a-thons are easy to customize too. You can create a reading list for each grade level, or even let students choose their own books. 

You can also have students read in school, at home, or both. As long as the participants read more than normal, the rules of the fundraiser are pretty flexible. 

For most read-a-thons, you’ll want to set a minimum amount of hours and a time period. For example, students read 1 hour per day over the course of a month. See how to run a read-a-thon here.

kids walking in a walk a thon

Walk-a-Thon Fundraiser

A walk-a-thon is another popular a-thon fundraiser. It’s a great way to encourage activity while being accessible. It appeals to a large audience since you don’t need any special skills or equipment.

It’s also affordable and easy to organize for PTA or PTO groups. This event is best held outside, which means you eliminate the cost of an event venue.

Similar to a standard 5K or marathon, participants walk along a set course. Every other aspect is customizable, so you can choose the distance, route, and theme. For example, you might want to make the course shorter if you’re fundraising for an elementary school and want students to participate. Planning on running one yourself? Here’s our walk-a-thon fundraiser guide.

teenagers jumping

Dance-a-Thon Fundraiser

A dance-a-thon is a fun and engaging fundraiser. It works especially well for junior high and high school students, who might be less willing to participate in fundraisers otherwise.

Depending on what works best for your school, you can do a dance-a-thon two main ways:

  1. As an in-person event, where participants dance during the event.
  2. As an individual fundraiser, where participants record their time at home.

As long as everyone is dancing more than normal and gathering donations, both methods work. If you hold the event in person, you’ll just need to organize a few things like the venue, music, decorations, and chaperones. 

kid playing guitar

Sing-a-Thon Fundraiser

A sing-a-thon is another unique fundraiser that works great if your school has a music program, choir, or musically talented students.

It works very similarly to a dance-a-thon, and you can do it two main ways:

  1. Individually, where participants record their time over a set period.
  2. In-person, as more of a “concert” type of event.

Both methods work great, just remember that the in-person event will require some planning and event coordination.

See also: Guide: How to Sing-a-Thon Fundraiser 

people jogging

Jog-a-Thon Fundraiser 

A jog-a-thon follows the same structure as a walk-a-thon, except participants run instead of walk. You set a course, and participants jog along the route.

If you wanted to keep the event really simple and do it during school hours, you could also make the course a set number of laps around your school’s field or track.

You can customize the fundraiser to fit your needs by adjusting the route, distance, and theme. For example, around Christmas, you could do a “Santa Jog” and have everyone wear a Santa or Christmas costume. See more jog-a-thon themes in our guide.

young woman riding bike

Bike-a-Thon Fundraiser

A bike-a-thon follows a similar format as a walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon. Typically, you can make the course a bit longer since it’s easier to cover more distance on a bike. 

You can also customize the race and even do different types of biking, like mountain biking or road biking. Just make sure when deciding the distance and type of biking you take who will be participating into consideration.

If you’re a PTA for an elementary school and want the student to participate, you should probably keep the course short and accessible for bikes with training wheels. For a high school, you can look at making the course longer.

kids bowling

Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser

A bowl-a-thon is a unique fundraiser and great if your area has a bowling alley. It works similarly to other a-thons, where participants engage in peer-to-peer fundraising.

The main differences are participants form and sign up in teams, and it ends with an in-person event. The event is essentially a bowling tournament, where teams play against each other for the top spot.

Donors can either give general donations to show their support or you can get more specific. Donations can be dependent on certain factors like pins hit, strikes, or games won. For example, a donor can commit to donating $5 for every strike. Check out our bowl-a thon guide here.

kid hitting a home run

Baseball Hit-a-Thon Fundraiser

A baseball a-thon, or hit-a-thon, is essentially a baseball tournament fundraiser. Participants for baseball teams and then fundraise as teams.

Because this is a baseball fundraiser, you can get creative with how you collect donations. For example, donors can commit to donating a certain amount per hit or home run, and you collect the donations afterward.

To make the fundraiser open to more participants, you can modify it to T-ball or softball.

teenageer doing math
Teenage girl standing in classroom. Looking at blackboard and wondering about something. Rear view

Math-a-Thon Fundraiser

A math-a-thon encourages math and fundraising, so you really can’t go wrong. For this type of a-thon, students will typically collect pledges per problem solved. Depending on how difficult the questions are, students can ask for 1 to 10 cents per math problem.

Students get worksheets for their grade level and then solve as many problems as possible in the timeframe. Typically, math-a-thons last 1 to 2 weeks and can happen during school, after school, or both. If you’re looking to crunch numbers and raise funds, check out our math-a-thon guide.

kid at a spelling bee
African American guy with copybook standing by interactive display with bees while making presentation in front of classmates at lesson

Spell-a-Thon Fundraiser

A spell-a-thon works very similarly to a math-a-thon. Students collect pledges for each word they spell correctly.

Students get a list of words to study, which can be anywhere from 10 to 100 words depending on their grade level.

Then, their teacher gives a spelling test or you hold a spelling bee. For each word the student gets right, they get the amount the donor pledged. For example, if a donor pledged 10 cents for each correct word and the student got 20 words right, then the donor would give $2.

kids jumping outside

Jump-a-Thon Fundraiser

A jump-a-thon is a jump rope fundraiser, with the most recognizable version known as “Jump Rope for Heart.” You can host a jump-a-thon to fundraise for heart health, your PTA/PTO, or any other cause! It’s easy for students to participate since the only equipment you need is a jump rope. 

It encourages kids to be active, whether they participate during gym class or at home. If doing it in person, you can set up stations for different types of jump rope, like double-dutch, criss-cross, or double jumps.

For the donation aspect, participants can collect pledges for the amount of time jumped. You can also collect extra pledges for learning jump rope tricks.

See also: Guide: How to Jump-a-Thon Fundraiser 

girl serving volleyball

Volleyball Serve-a-Thon Fundraiser

A volleyball a-thon, or serve-a-thon, is essentially a volleyball tournament fundraiser. Similar to a baseball hit-a-thon, participants fundraise as a team and collect pledges.

Donors can pledge for certain things, like per serve or per block, or give a general donation. Then, you’ll host a volleyball tournament where the participating teams play each other.

This fundraiser is great since you can play volleyball at any time of year. For a summer fundraiser, you can also host a beach volleyball serve-a-thon.

kids having fun underwater

Swim-a-Thon Fundraiser

A swim-a-thon works similarly to other a-thons like walk-a-thons or bike-a-thons. You create a course, and participants swim the course.

You can create the course in a large body of water, like a lake or ocean, if it’s warm enough. If the weather is too cold for that, you can always host the event at your local pool. Just have the participants swim a certain number of laps. If you have any other questions, check out our swim-a-thon guide here.

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