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LATEST FROM OUR BLOG

Anatomy of a Successful School Fundraiser

Anatomy of a Successful School Fundraiser

What do successful fundraisers have in common? Find out here as FutureFund breaks down the anatomy of a fundraising campaign that works. Learn what elements to include in your campaign so that you can meet your school group’s goals.

Thank You Letter Template for Business Donors

Thank You Letter Template for Business Donors

Create genuine and effective thank-you letters for business donors to your school fundraisers. Use this template from FutureFund to get started, then send it out using our platform’s built-in messaging system.

How to Run a Read-a-Thon Fundraiser

Read-a-thon’s make for great fundraisers because they tick all the right boxes: participants do something that expands their skills and knowledge while raising money to support their school, extra-curricular program, or club.

Here, we’ll show you the A-Z of read-a-thons, including planning, tracking donations, and ideas on how to organize and promote it.

Read-a-Thon Guide Table of Contents

1

Step by Step Guide

Everything you need to know about starting a read-a-thon, from A-Z.

2

Read-a-Thon 101

A quick introduction to what a read-a-thon is and how it works.

3

What is an "A-Thon" & How Does it Work?

Thon’s can be a powerful fundraising tool.

4

What do you need to run a Read-a-Thon?

The tools, support, and volunteers you’ll need for a successful read-a-thon.

5

Using a Read-a-Thon to Fundraise

How to raise money with read-a-thons.

6

Templates, Ideas, Tools, & Resources

Kickstart your read-a-thon using curated templates and tools.

7

Read-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Feel inspired with our read-a-thon theme examples.

FutureFund is FREE for Schools

Schools that sign up get full access to all of FutureFund’s features—it’s always free and it always will be.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Running a Read-a-Thon

Step One: Choose a Date & Theme

  • Choose the date of your Read-A-Thon three months before the event. Read-A-Thons usually take place over a week or two so that students have time to read as much as possible, so make sure you schedule an appropriate window that doesn’t conflict with other important dates.
  • Make sure your PTA coordinates with the school library ahead of time to create a dedicated space that can be used for the Read-A-Thon. This makes student participation easier.
  • Some Read-A-Thons have specific themes based on the time of year they’re held—like reading US history books around Thanksgiving or books by authors of color during Black History Month. See some theme ideas here.

Read-A-Thon Planning Infographic and Checklist

Use these templates to keep your Read-A-Thon planning on track:

Canva Read-A-Thon Infographic

Canva Running a Read-A-Thon Checklist

Step Two: Call for Volunteers

  • Put out a call for volunteers two months before the event. Use FutureFund’s built-in messaging system to reach the parents and volunteers most likely to participate.
  • Make sure your call for volunteers clearly states what cause or project the Read-A-Thon will support.
  • Perform background checks for any volunteers who need to be on campus during the event (if required by your school)

Example Volunteer Positions for Read-A-Thons

  • Event Coordinators: Overseeing the entire Read-A-Thon, ensuring guidelines are followed, and communicating with participants and parents throughout the event.
  • Reading Mentors: Volunteers who offer encouragement, book recommendations, and possibly reading assistance, maintaining regular check-ins with students.
  • Technology Support: Individuals managing online platforms, tracking reading progress, and assisting with digital reading resources or apps.
  • Registration and Tracking Volunteers: Handling participant registration and keeping track of students’ reading progress, hours logged, or books completed.
  • Prize and Incentive Organizers: Coordinating and distributing rewards or recognition for reading milestones, including managing online announcements or mailings.
  • Library Volunteers: Keeping the library space tidy and organized, ensuring a conducive environment for students who choose to read there during the Read-A-Thon.

Step Three: Choose Student Incentives

  • Incentives motivate students to register for your Read-A-Thon and collect pledges. Each student should have a specific fundraising goal—usually between $100-$300.
  • It’s better to offer incentives to a whole class or group than to individual students, as this is a more cost-effective way to motivate students and can also discourage unhealthy competition. Try an ice cream social or a pizza party for best results.

Step Four: Create Your Read-A-Thon’s Campaign

Use FutureFund to create a Pledge-A-Thon campaign and provide your campaign details.

Make sure your campaign has the following elements:

  • A clear and compelling event description and rules, including what the money raised will go towards and what the incentives will be for participating students.
  • A leaderboard that shows the grades and teachers for each participating class, along with how much each has raised. These are fully customizable in FutureFund, so you can create custom categories for each Read-A-Thon.
  • A template students can use to collect pledges from members of the school community. FutureFund provides a sample template for this in all A-Thon campaigns, which you can modify to include the specific details of your event.

Sample Read-A-Thon Rules Template

Here’s a Canva template of sample read-a-thon rules. Click “Use template for new design” to create an editable version, then add custom information for your event, change fonts and graphics, and more!

Canva Read-A-Thon Rules Template

Step Five: Announce the Event & Sign-Up Students

  • Send out an announcement of your Read-A-Thon to the school community two weeks before the event begins and request that students sign up to participate.
  • Share the news in as many places as possible—use the school newsletter, morning announcements, and FutureFund’s messaging system to tell everyone why the event is important and how they can be part of it.
  • Use FutureFund to send follow-up messages every other day leading up to the event to encourage participation.
  • During the event, send out updates every other day to update the school community on the reading progress of your students and encourage them to keep offering support.

Sample Weekly Reading Log for Students

Having students track their reading progress is easy—just hand out charts to each participant that look like this:

Weekly Reading Log Spreadsheet

To edit or use this chart for your students, go to “File” and click “Make a copy”.

Sample Email for Student Sign-Ups

Subject: Dive into Books with the [School Name] Read-A-Thon!

Hello Students,

Get ready to embark on a reading adventure! Our annual Read-A-Thon is starting soon, and we want YOU to be a part of this exciting journey. This event isn’t just about discovering amazing stories and expanding your horizons; it’s also about supporting our beloved school.

Why should you join?

  • Explore new worlds and adventures through books.
  • Help raise funds for [insert cause or school project].
  • Earn cool rewards and recognition for your reading achievements.

How to Sign Up:

Signing up is a breeze! Just visit this link and follow the steps: [insert FutureFund link]. Then you’ll get your own link you can share with friends and family to collect pledges before the event.

Remember, this event is for everyone, whether you’re a bookworm or just getting started with reading. Let’s unite in a celebration of literature and learning.

Happy Reading,

[Your Name]

[School or Name of School Group]

You can also use this Canva template to keep a copy of your email script handy. Click “Use template for new design” to create an editable version, then add custom information for your event, change fonts and graphics, and more!

Canva Read-A-Thon Student Sign-up Email Template

Sample Follow-Up Email to Donors

Subject: Your Contribution Inspires Young Readers – [School Name] Read-A-Thon Update!

Dear [Donor’s Name],

As our Read-A-Thon progresses, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your support. Your donation is not just funding an event; it’s igniting a passion for reading in our students and helping us achieve our goal of [insert specific goal or cause].

Here’s a quick update:

  • [Number of students] have joined the reading challenge!
  • We’re [percentage] of the way to our fundraising target.

Every page turned by our students is a step towards enriching their learning.

Don’t forget, you can still share our event and encourage more support through FutureFund at [insert link].

Your generosity is a vital part of our school community, inspiring our students to explore and learn.

With appreciation,

[Your Name]

[School or Name of School Group]

You can also use this Canva template to keep a copy of your email script handy. Click “Use template for new design” to create an editable version, then add custom information for your event, change fonts and graphics, and more!

Canva Read-A-Thon Donor Email Template

Sample Email for the Final Week of the Read-A-Thon

Subject: Final Week of the [School Name] Read-A-Thon – Keep Turning Those Pages!

Hello [Name of School] Students & Families!

We’re entering the final week of our Read-A-Thon, and the enthusiasm is at an all-time high! It’s been incredible to see our students immerse themselves in books and stories.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Only one week left to reach your reading goals!
  • Last-minute donations can still be made to support our readers via FutureFund at [insert link].

Get ready for the closing ceremony where we’ll celebrate our achievements and award our top readers!

Let’s make this final push a memorable one. Your dedication and support are making a huge difference in our school and in the lives of our students. Let’s finish strong!

Happy Reading,

[Your Name]

[School or Name of School Group]

You can also use this Canva template to keep a copy of your email script handy. Click “Use template for new design” to create an editable version, then add custom information for your event, change fonts and graphics, and more!

Canva Final Week Push Read-A-Thon Email Template

Templates for Promoting Your Read-A-Thon

Here are some Canva templates to help you spread awareness for your Read-A-Thon on social media and in your community! Click “Use template for new design” to create an editable version, then add custom information for your event, change fonts and graphics, and more!

Canva Read-A-Thon Template for Instagram Story

Canva Read-A-Thon Template for Instagram Post

Canva Read-A-Thon Template for Printable Poster

Example caption: Support [insert school name]’s Read-A-Thon from [insert date range]. Help our school community raise money for [insert cause] by registering to read as many books as possible!

Step Six: Find Sponsors

Ask local businesses to sponsor the Read-A-Thon. This can help your PTA reach your fundraising targets while business owners get exposure and positive PR.

Make sure to explain how each sponsor’s contribution will be recognized. For example, you could:

  • Hang a banner in the library with sponsor logos during the event.
  • Offer branded notebooks or other materials to readers.
  • Add sponsors to your school’s online store using FutureFund.

Types of Sponsorship

  • Direct donations—either towards your fundraising goal or to help cover the costs of supplies and equipment.
  • Corporate matching is where a business makes a donation equal to all or a portion of the funds you raise from the community.
  • Selling sponsorships on FutureFund via advertising on your campaign page.

Step Seven: Host the Read-A-Thon

Finally, the day of the run will arrive—and if you’ve followed all the steps above, you should have everything you need to make it a success. On your mark, get set, GO!

Kickoff Day

  • Make the official launch announcement.
  • Host a special event or assembly to excite students.
  • Begin logging reading hours.

Daily Check-ins

  • Send updates via FutureFund messages or school announcements.
  • Highlight top readers and classes.
  • Offer reading tips and book recommendations.

Mid-Event Milestone (End of Week 1)

  • Celebrate the halfway point with a special announcement or event.
  • Recognize achievements and top fundraisers so far.
  • Encourage continued participation and fundraising.

Final Week Push

  • Continue communication to encourage final reading and fundraising efforts.
  • Share progress towards goals and highlight any special contests or incentives.

Last Day of Read-A-Thon

  • Final push for reading and donations.
  • Reminder for students to log their last hours and for donors to make final contributions.

Post-Event Wrap-Up

  • Announce total hours read and funds raised.
  • Recognize top readers, classes, and fundraisers.
  • Distribute prizes and certificates.
  • Send thank-you notes to participants, volunteers, and donors.

Reflection & Feedback

  • Survey students, teachers, and parents for feedback.
  • Use FutureFund’s financial reporting tools to summarize the progress your event has made.
  • Begin planning for next year’s event based on feedback.

Read-a-Thon 101

What is a Read-a-Thon?

A read-a-thon is one of the most popular a-thon style fundraisers. During a read-a-thon, students will commit to reading a certain amount and collect donations.

Read-a-thons are great fundraisers since they encourage reading and literacy. Most people agree that getting kids reading more is a good thing, so it’s easy to get people on board to donate.

Read-a-thons are suitable for all types of schools and grade levels, but are particularly suited for elementary school fundraisers.

Read-a-Thon Goals & Rules

Treat these as a base and feel free to tailor these to suit your specific event.

Setting a reading goal for participants

The reading goal should be dependent on the length of time and the grade the students are in. Set an attainable goal, but one that requires active participation by students. For a two-week read-a-thon, a good goal is students reading at least 10 times over the course of the fundraiser.

You may also want to track the total amount of time read. Many read-a-thons feature “top reader” awards, given to the top 3 or top 5 students who read the most.

Another way to make read-a-thons a bit more fun is to acknowledge and reward students that read on consecutive days, such as a “longest reading streak” award. A little bit of fundraising gamification can go a long way!

Duration

You can choose any length of time between 10 days and 1 month. For the best results, try to make your read-a-thon last between 10 days and 2 weeks.

What books can students read?

You can create a set reading list, but it’s often best to let students choose their own books.

For a two-week read-a-thon, most students should aim to read 1-2 novels (based on their reading level). For younger students reading picture books, they can set a goal of 3-4 books.

If you are worried about student participation, consider including comic books and magazines as part of your read-a-thon as they often contain complex themes and important discussions.

Typical read-a-thon rules

Before you start telling students about the read-a-thon, you should decide the following:

  • Duration of the read-a-thon
  • How many books or how much to read
  • The reading list or theme

Recommend Read-a-Thon Duration

  • 10 days for pre-school and elementary schools
  • 14 days for middle and high schools

Collection Donations

  • Start telling students about the read-a-thon at least 10 days before it starts. 
  • Students should be signed up in your fundraising system and gathering donations at least 7 days before the fundraiser starts.

Confirm That Everyone Knows What to Do

  1. On the day the fundraiser starts, be sure to re-explain the rules and encourage students to continue fundraising.
  2. Halfway through the read-a-thon, remind students how many days they have left to finish their books.

Frequently Asked Questions About Read-a-Thons

How do I use FutureFund to track my fundraiser’s success?

FutureFund gives you the ability to generate financial reports for fundraising campaigns in just a few clicks. To do this, navigate to Store and click the Reports tab near the top of your screen. Then choose Campaign Summary from the drop-down menu and click Generate Report.

Can volunteers for my Read-A-Thon sign up automatically through FutureFund?

Yes—FutureFund lets you create a list of the volunteer positions you’ll need to fill, then add a volunteer page to your registration portal so parents can sign up in just a few simple clicks. See the steps for signing up volunteers here.

How does a read-a-thon work?

Donors will give pledges for a certain amount of reading. For example, a student’s grandma might donate $5 for every book they read. Or maybe a parent’s coworker donates $2 for every hour of reading.

The “rules” can be flexible, as long as students read more than normal. You can also have students read during school time, at home, or both.

How long does a read-a-thon last?

The length of a read-a-thon is flexible. If students are doing the reading at school, typically, you’ll want to do at least 10 reading sessions. Depending on their grade level, these sessions can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour.

If students are reading at home, 10 days to 2 weeks of reading is the sweet spot. It’s long enough for students to accomplish their reading goals, but not so long they forget about it.

When should you hold a read-a-thon?

Read-a-thons are great fundraisers to hold in the fall. They don’t require a ton of planning, so they’re easy to pull off in the first few weeks of school.

Students are also just returning from summer break and will likely be more excited about reading than they will be later in the school year.

What books should students read?

That’s one of the great things about a read-a-thon; you or the students can pick almost any book. You can create a suggested reading list (just make sure to customize it for each grade level).

Alternatively, you can also let students choose what books they read. This is a great option because you don’t have to worry about how many copies of a book the library has. Students will also read more because they can pick books they’re truly interested in.

FutureFund is FREE for Schools

Schools that sign up get full access to all of FutureFund’s features—it’s always free and it always will be.

What is a “Thon”?

Thon’s Are Fun & Effective Event-Based Fundraisers

An “a-thon” is a peer-to-peer style fundraiser that involves participating in a certain activity and gathering donations for participating in said activity.

The activity can be almost anything, from reading to running to bowling. No matter what activity you choose, the premise is the same. Participants commit to doing the activity (reading a certain amount of books, running a certain distance) and ask their friends, family, and coworkers to support them.

A-thons work great because you reach a huge donor pool through peer-to-peer fundraising. People are also more likely to donate since participants are “working” in return for the donations.

What Do You Need to Run a Read-a-Thon?

Power it With FutureFund

FutureFund’s built-in pledge campaigns allow you to easily collect money and keep donations/pledges organized. Since parents cover payment processing fees, 100% of the funds raised go to your school!

FutureFund is easy to use - for everyone

FutureFund makes running a read-a-thon easy for everyone. Easier for PTAs and PTOs to run, for students and parents to participate, and for donors to donate.

Accept online donations

Instead of dealing with paper pledge forms and cash and cheques, FutureFund takes the process online. Donors can donate instantly online with their credit or debit cards.

A single tool to power your entire Thon!

FutureFund makes it easy to track how the fundraiser is going. Easily view how much money has been raised and more with detailed reporting.

Using a Read-a-Thon for Fundraising

Consider the below when organizing your read-a-thon. Spending a bit of time up front getting organized from an admin and donation perspective will save a lot of time and potential frustration later.

Managing and organizing pledges

Each student will sign up as a participant in the fundraiser. Then, they can collect pledges individually by credit or debit card. You can also accept cash pledges, but be mindful of properly storing and tracking cash you collect.

If you are using FutureFund, you can record these pledges and they will automatically count towards the student’s total and the grand total for the fundraiser.

Donor information and donation management

Before launching your fundraiser, confirm what records you need to collect from donors.

If you are using FutureFund, it’s easy for students to sign up, especially if their information is already in the system. You can bulk sign up entire grades or classes. All donor payments are automatically entered into the system, so you can instantly see each student’s total and the grand total.

Make sure you accept online donations

Fundraising campaigns that accept online donations perform much better than fundraisers that only accept cash or check.

If you are using FutureFund, you can accept payments online. Dopnors are given a donation link and can pay by credit or debit card. Any cash donations can also be noted in the system to be collected later.

Read-a-Thon Templates & Resources

Planning resources

Use these templates to keep your Read-A-Thon planning on track:

Canva Read-A-Thon Infographic

Canva Running a Read-A-Thon Checklist

Sample read-a-thon rules

To participate in the read-a-thon, you must choose [number of books] by [date]. Then, the read-a-thon starts on [date], which means you have until [date] to finish your books!

Make sure to tell your family that you’re fundraising, so they can donate (ask your parents for help, so they can ask their friends and coworkers too!).

All donations will be collected through FutureFund through this link: [link].

Or, here’s a Canva template of sample read-a-thon rules. Click “Use template for new design” to create an editable version, then add custom information for your event, change fonts and graphics, and more!

Canva Read-A-Thon Rules Template

Sample read-a-thon event description

Unsure of where to start? Use this sample student and parent messaging to get the ball rolling!

Let’s get reading! Starting [date], [school name] will be hosting a read-a-thon to help fundraise for [cause]. You can help by reading as much as you can! Parents, each student will be collecting pledges online through FutureFund: [link].

Please spread the word to your family, friends, and coworkers to help make this fundraiser a success!

Sample read-a-thon email scripts

Use these Canva email script templates to call out for Read-A-Thon participants, donations, and to keep your fundraiser top-of-mind. Click “Use template for new design” to create an editable version, then add custom information for your event, change fonts and graphics, and more!

Canva Read-A-Thon Student Sign-up Email Template

Canva Read-A-Thon Donor Email Template

Canva Final Week Push Read-A-Thon Email Template

Design templates for promoting your read-a-thon

Use these Canva templates to help you spread awareness for your Read-A-Thon on social media and in your community! Click “Use template for new design” to create an editable version, then add custom information for your event, change fonts and graphics, and more!

Canva Read-A-Thon Template for Instagram Story

Canva Read-A-Thon Template for Instagram Post

Canva Read-A-Thon Template for Printable Poster

Read-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Read Around the World

Take your students around the world through books! For this theme, students can choose books based in other countries and learn about different cultures.

Holiday Theme

You can do a read-a-thon at any time of year and match it with upcoming holidays. In December, for example, you can do a holiday theme with books about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas.

Past or Future

Take students to another time with books that take place in the past or future. You can even choose books based on what they’re learning in history class as an added learning opportunity.

Fantasy Theme

There are so many great fantasy books that you can use this theme for every reading level. From Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, this theme makes it easy for students to pick a book they love.

Superhero Theme

Most kids can agree on loving superheroes. Encourage kids to read books or graphic novels about their favorite characters.

Animal Theme

Another topic most kids can agree on is loving animals. For this theme, kids can pick any book about animals.

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Raised For Our Schools Since 2014

S. Bucceri

Board Clerk for Salisbury Central School

“FutureFund has been a game changer for our school. We love it because it keeps track of all the purchases for fundraisers and field trips and eliminates the need to handle cash and checks.”

Made by PTA volunteers and former school faculty

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PTA Member

“The biggest thing we love about FutureFund is how easy it is to keep our group organized! I love the parents directory and volunteer tools because its so easy to get everyone organized and informed!”