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How to Run a Spell-a-Thon Fundraiser

Spell-a-thons combine the best elements of a school fundraiser: they encourage learning while encouraging donations. If you’re looking for a fundraiser, spell-a-thons are a great way for students to raise money for schools, extra-curriculars, or clubs.

This page outlines the A-Z of spell-a-thons, including planning, tracking donations, and tips for organizing and promoting the fundraiser.

student raising funds for a spell a thon

Spell-a-Thon Guide

Table of Contents

students setting up to have a spell a thon

Spell-a-Thon 101

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

what is a read-a-thon

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

An “a-thon” can be a powerful fundraising tool (and a lot of fun, too!)

what do you need to run a read-a-thon?

What Do You Need to Run a Spell-a-thon?

Learn what it takes to run a successful spell-a-thon.

using a read-a-thon to fundraise

Using a Spell-a-thon to Fundraise

How to raise money with spell-a-thons.

read-a-thon tools and resources

Spell-a-Thon Templates, Tools, & Resources

See how FutureFund makes managing spell-a-thon pledges effortless.

read-a-thon theme ideas

Spell-a-Thon Theme Ideas

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

student and teachers participating in aspell a thon

Start Your Spell-a-Thon With FutureFund

Our integrated pledge campaign fundraising tool allows you to collect donations (via cash, debit, or credit) and easily manage fundraising progress. Get started for free.

Spell-a-Thon 101: A Quick Guide

What is a Spell-a-Thon?

Spell-a-thons work similarly to other types of “a-thons”, like read-a-thons. Students commit to learning to spell a set amount of words and collect pledges.

Because the donations are based on students improving their spelling, most donors are happy to support them. This makes spell-a-thons an effective fundraiser that everyone can get behind.

Spell-a-Thon FAQ

How does a spell-a-thon work?

Students collect pledges from their family, friends, and parents’ coworkers. In return, students learn how to spell a certain amount of words. The pledge amounts vary and can be anywhere from $1 per word.

You can customize the rules of your spell-a-thon based on your school’s needs. The main idea is that the students are committed and learning how to spell new words.

How long does a spell-a-thon last?

The exact length of the spell-a-thon largely depends on how many words the students are learning. A good general rule is to give students at least 1 to 2 weeks to learn their words.

When should you hold a spell-a-thon?

Spell-a-thons aren’t weather-dependent like other fundraisers, so you can hold them any time during the year. Because spell-a-thons are held inside, you might want to plan yours for the fall or winter, so you can save the warmer months for fundraisers that have to take place outside.

What words should students learn?

The words should first and foremost be based on students’ grade levels. Spell-a-thon words should be similar to the words students would be learning in class normally. Involve teachers in the process, so the spell-a-thon words are not too easy or too hard.

Are spell-a-thons good fundraisers?

Spell-a-thons essentially turn spelling tests into fundraisers, so they’re a win-win. Students get to improve their spelling ability, and the school gets to raise money for important initiatives, making spell-a-thons great fundraisers.

What is an "A Thon"?

what is a read-a-thon?

A 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 Spell-a-Thon?

Community raising money for school

Use FutureFund to Power It

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

Easy for Everyone

Any good fundraiser needs to be easy to plan, participate in, and most importantly, get donations. FutureFund makes planning and running a spell-a-thon as easy as possible.

Donate Online

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

All-in-One

Always know how the fundraiser is going. Easily view how much money has been raised and more with detailed reporting.

Using a Spell-a-Thon for Fundraising

Managing & Organizing Pledges

Each student will sign up as a participant in the fundraiser. Then, they can collect pledges individually by credit or debit card. These pledges will be recorded in FutureFund and will count towards the student’s total and the grand total for the fundraiser.

Paperwork & Donor Payment Management

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.

Using FutureFund to Accept Online Donations

Donors don’t need to have cash or a checkbook handy to donate. They can easily donate through an emailable donation link and pay by credit or debit card. Any cash donations can also be noted in the system to be collected later.

using future fund for fundraising
goals and rules

Spell-a-Thon Goals & Rules

Length of Time

The ideal amount of time for a spell-a-thon is between 10 days and 2 weeks. However, you can customize the length of your spell-a-thon anywhere from 10 days to 1 month.

Spelling Goal

The spelling goal will largely depend on the student’s grade and how long the spell-a-thon lasts. Higher grades will typically learn more words, and lower grades will learn fewer words, but it should be every student’s goal to learn how to spell every word on their list.

Word List

The word list should contain words that students would be learning to spell normally. The most important thing is that the words are customized for students’ grade levels.

Recommended Starting Rules

For a successful spell-a-thon, make sure to:

  1. Decide the following before you start telling students about the spell-a-thon:
    • The dates and length
    • The spelling goal
    • The word list
    • The theme
  2. Start telling students about the spell-a-thon at least 10 days before it starts. 
  3. Students should be signed up in your fundraising system and gathering donations at least 7 days before the fundraiser starts.
  4. On the day the fundraiser starts, be sure to re-explain the rules and encourage students to continue fundraising.
  5. Halfway through the spell-a-thon, remind students how many days they have left to finish their spell problems.
  6. Decide whether the spell-a-thon ends with a spelling test or a spelling bee. Spelling bees take a bit more time to organize, but can generate more donations.

Spell-a-Thon Templates & Resources

read a thon templates
sample read-a-thon rules

Sample Spell-a-Thon Rules

These rules are a great starting point for organizing your spell-a-thon.

sample read-a-thon description

Sample Spell-a-Thon Event Description

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

online pledges w/ futurefund

Set Up Online Pledges With FutureFund

Let parents and supporters donate online with FutureFund’s online pledges. Try it out for free!

Spell-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Holiday

Depending on when you hold your spell-a-thon, you can choose words to match a holiday. You can find words to go with any holiday, from Halloween to St. Patrick’s Day.

Animal

It’s called a spelling bee after all, so why not go with an animal theme? This theme is easy to customize for students’ grade levels too.

School Subject

Another way to customize word lists for students’ grade level is to choose words based on what they’re learning. Pick words based on historical events, scientific concepts, and more.

Etymology

Etymology, or the history of words, can help students identify how to spell certain words. Choose words with similar origins, like Latin or Greek, or words with the same root.

Geography

Take students all around the world with a geography-based spelling list. You can choose the country based on the curriculum or even let each class choose a country.

Language

If your school has a second language or immersion program, a spell-a-thon is a great way for students to test their skills. Encourage kids to learn how to spell in another language.

Find Other Fundraiser
Ideas & Guides

How to Run a Jump-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Jump-a-Thon Fundraiser

Jump-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money while also being active. See how a jump-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our in-depth guide.

How to Run a Math-a-Thon Fundraiser

How to Run a Math-a-Thon Fundraiser

Math-a-Thon fundraisers are great ways to raise money while also practicing academics. See how a math-a-thon works & what you’ll need to run one in our guide.