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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 Swim-a-Thon Fundraiser

Swim-a-thons are extremely effective fundraisers since they benefit both your school and the participants. Swimmers get to stay active while supporting a good cause, whether it’s their school, extra-curricular, or club.

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

Swim-a-Thon Guide Table of Contents

1

Step by Step Guide

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

2

Swim-a-Thon 101

A quick introduction to what a swim-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 Swim-a-Thon?

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

5

Using a Swim-a-Thon to Fundraise

How to raise money with swim-a-thons.

6

Templates, Ideas, Tools, & Resources

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

7

Swim-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Feel inspired with our swim-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 Steps to Running Your Swim-A-Thon

Step One: Choose a Date & Theme

  • Choose the date of your Swim-A-Thon three months before the event. Swim-A-Thons usually take place on a single day, so choose a date that doesn’t conflict with other school plans.
  • Make sure your PTA coordinates with the school ahead of time to plan the route, secure any necessary permits, and purchase insurance if necessary.

Swim-A-Thon Planning Infographic and Checklist

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

Canva Swim-A-Thon Infographic

Canva Running a Swim-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 Swim-A-Thon will support.
  • Perform background checks for any volunteers from outside the school who need to be present during the event (if required by your school).

Example Volunteer Positions for Swim-A-Thons

  • Event Coordinator: Oversees all aspects of the swim-a-thon, including planning, execution, and coordination on the day of the event.
  • Registration Team: Manages participant sign-ups, handles check-ins on the day of the event, and distributes information and swim materials.
  • Safety and Lifeguard Team: Ensures the safety of all swimmers, monitors the pool area, and provides immediate assistance if needed.
  • Lane Counters: Keeps track of the number of laps completed by each swimmer.
  • Start/Finish Line Officials: Manages the start and finish of the swim, ensuring fair play and accurate timing.
  • First Aid Volunteers: Provide basic first aid and coordinate with emergency services for any medical emergencies.
  • Photographer/Videographer: Captures moments from the event for future promotion or as keepsakes for participants.
  • Setup and Cleanup Crew: Responsible for setting up the event area before the swim-a-thon and cleaning up afterward.
  • Swim Coaches or Instructors: Provide tips and encouragement to swimmers, especially younger or less experienced ones.

Step Three: Choose Student Incentives

  • Incentives motivate students to register for your Swim-A-Thon and collect pledges. Each student should have a specific fundraising goal—usually between $200-$400.
  • It’s better to offer incentives to the class or grade that raises the most money than to individual students, as this is a more cost-effective way to motivate groups and can also discourage unhealthy competition. Try an ice cream social or a pizza party for the best results.

Step Four: Create Your Swim-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 Swim-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 Swim-A-Thon Rules Template

Here’s a Canva template of sample Swim-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 Swim-A-Thon Rules Template

Step Five: Announce the Event & Sign-Up Students

  • Send out an announcement of your Swim-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.
  • The night before the event, send a final reminder to get the school community excited about the event and encourage them to keep offering support.

Initial Email for Student Sign-Ups

Subject: Dive into Fun at [School Name]’s Annual Swim-A-Thon!

Hello Students,

Make a splash with our exciting Swim-A-Thon! This event is more than just swimming laps; it’s a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate your swimming prowess, support our school, and enjoy a day full of aquatic fun and community spirit.

Why join the Swim-A-Thon?

  • Take on a healthy and enjoyable swimming challenge.
  • Help raise funds for [insert cause or school project].
  • Earn awards and recognition for your swimming and fundraising achievements.

How to Sign Up:

Joining is a breeze! Simply click this link [insert FutureFund link], complete the registration steps, and you’re ready to make waves. You’ll also get a link to share with friends and family for pledges based on the number of laps you swim.

Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just love the water, this event is for everyone. Let’s swim together for a fantastic cause!

Best regards,

[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 Swim-A-Thon Student Sign-up Email Template

Sample Follow-Up Email to Donors

Subject: Your Support Makes Waves – [School Name] Swim-A-Thon Update!

Dear [Donor’s Name],

We deeply appreciate your support for our Swim-A-Thon! Your contribution is propelling our efforts to provide an unforgettable experience for our students and achieve our fundraising goals for [insert specific goal or cause].

Current Update:

  • [Number of students] enthusiastic swimmers are ready to dive in!
  • We have reached [percentage] of our fundraising goal.

There’s still time to back our young swimmers through FutureFund at [insert link]. Your generosity is a key part of our success and is greatly valued by our entire school community.

With thanks,

[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 Swim-A-Thon Donor Email Template

Sample Email for the Final Day Before the Swim-A-Thon

Subject: Last Lap to Go! Final Day Before [School Name]’s Swim-A-Thon!

Hello [Name of School] Students & Families!

The big day is just around the corner! Our Swim-A-Thon is only a day away, and the excitement is at its peak. Our students are ready to swim their way to achievement and fun.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Last day to secure pledges! Urge your friends and family to support you via FutureFund at [insert link].
  • Join us at [Location] on [Date]. Don’t miss the start at [Time] and be sure to cheer for our swimmers as they complete their laps!

Let’s make the final day a swimming success. Your encouragement is invaluable to our students and helps make a significant impact on our school community.

Let’s dive into a fantastic finish!

See you at the pool,

[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 Swim-A-Thon Email Template

Templates for Promoting Your Swim-A-Thon

Here are some Canva templates to help you spread awareness for your Swim-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 Swim-A-Thon Template for Instagram Story

Canva Swim-A-Thon Template for Instagram Post

Canva Swim-A-Thon Template for Printable Poster

Example caption: Support [insert school name]’s Swim-A-Thon from [insert date]. Help our school community raise money for [insert cause] by registering to swim!

Step Six: Find Sponsors

Ask local businesses to sponsor the Swim-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 gym with sponsor logos during the event.
  • Offer branded water bottles or other swag to participants.
  • 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.
  • 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 Swim-A-Thon

Finally, the day of the event will arrive—and if you’ve followed all the steps above, you should have everything you need to make it successful. Here’s a sample event schedule:

Morning Session

  • 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM: Setup and Volunteer Arrival: Volunteers arrive to set up the pool area, registration desk, refreshment stations, first aid station, and any sponsor booths.
  • 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Participant Check-In and Warm-Up: Swimmers arrive, check in, and start warming up in the pool.
  • 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM: Opening Ceremony: A brief welcome speech by the event coordinator, safety briefing, and explanation of rules.
  • 9:30 AM: Swim-A-Thon Start: The swim-a-thon officially begins. Swimmers start in waves based on age group or skill level.

During the Event

  • 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM: Swim-A-Thon Main Event: Swimmers complete their laps. Lane counters track the number of laps each swimmer completes.
  • 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM: Family Activities: For non-swimming attendees, organize family-friendly activities near the pool, such as games, a mini fair, or face painting.

Lunch Break

  • 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM: Lunch and Entertainment: Participants and spectators take a break for lunch. This time can also include entertainment like music or guest speakers.

Afternoon Session

  • 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Continued Swimming: Swimmers resume or complete their laps. This session can include fun relay races or team events.
  • 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM: Final Laps and Cool Down: The last opportunity for swimmers to complete their laps. Participants start to cool down and leave the pool.
    Evening Session
  • 4:00 PM – 4:30 PM: Awards Ceremony: Awards and recognition for various achievements such as most laps swum, highest fundraiser, best team spirit, etc.
  • 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM: Closing Remarks and Departure: Thank you speech by the event coordinator, announcement of total funds raised, and official end of the event.
  • 5:00 PM onwards: Cleanup: Volunteers and staff clean up the venue, dismantle any temporary setups, and ensure the area is left tidy.

Post-Event Session

  • The Day After the Event: Send an update via FutureFund thanking all participants, donors, and volunteers.
  • One Week After the Event: Host a celebration for the winning class or grade (pizza party or ice cream social).

Swim-a-Thon 101

What is a Swim-a-Thon?

A swim-a-thon is a straightforward type of a-thon. It works similarly to any running fundraising event, except you’re swimming instead of running.

For PTAs, they’re simple organize, since all you need is a pool or body of water. For participants, they’re a bit more original than standard walk-a-thons or jog-a-thons.

Swim-a-Thon Goals & Rules

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

Length of Time

The main thing you have to plan for a Swim-A-Thon is the length of the event. Consider how accessible you want the event to be.

Typically, the shorter the distance, the more people who will be able to participate. You can make your Swim-A-Thon anywhere from 25 yards to 250 yards, which is 1 to 10 pool laps in most community pools.

Swimming Goal

Students will swim laps based on how much money they collect in pledges. A good rule of thumb is to have students pledge to complete one lap for every $50 raised—but adjust this based on the fitness level of your students.

Grade Considerations

Swim-A-Thons are appropriate for students of all ages—but bear in mind that younger students will probably lack the stamina of more developed athletes. We recommend shorter Swim-A-Thons for younger classes or grades.

If you want the Swim-A-Thon to be open to more people, you can also allow participants to use swim aids. This can include things like floaties, flippers, and flutter boards.

Pledge Collection

Start telling students about the Swim-A-Thon at least two weeks before it starts.

Students should be signed up in your fundraising system so they can gather donations for at least seven days before the fundraiser starts (although it’s still okay to take last-minute sign-ups).

Confirm That Everyone Knows What to Do

On the day the fundraiser starts, be sure to re-explain the rules and encourage students to continue fundraising.

Frequently Asked Questions About Swim-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 Swim-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 swim-a-thon work?

Like other types of a-thon fundraisers, swim-a-thons use a peer-to-peer fundraising model. Participants sign up for the swim-a-thon and ask their friends, family, and coworkers (or their parents’ coworkers) for support through donations.

Each swimmer participates in the swim-a-thon in exchange for the donations. The swim-a-thon itself is a set amount of swimming, either laps in a pool or a set distance in a body of water.

How long us a swim-a-thon?

Swim-a-thons are extremely customizable, which is one of the great things about them. You can choose the date, distance, theme, and more.

When choosing the distance, you’ll want to think about who is participating. An elementary school fundraiser, for example, should be on the shorter side. For a junior high or high school, you can make the distance longer.

When should you hold a swim-a-thon?

Swim-a-thons work for any time of year. In the colder months, you can hold them inside at a local pool. In the warmer months, you can hold them outside at a lake, pond, or ocean.

What do people need to participate?

Swim-a-thons require that participants be strong swimmers. That said, you can customize the distance and make it as easy or as hard as you like.To make the tournament as fair as possible, you should create some general rules for teams. Some factors to consider include:

  • Number of players
  • Age
  • Gender

For example, if the teams are open to all ages, you should make sure every team has a similar amount of children. So you can make a rule saying each team needs at least 2 players age 12 or under.

Are swim-a-thons good fundraisers?

Swim-a-thons make great fundraisers. They’re relatively easy to plan while being an original fundraiser idea.

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 Swim-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 swim-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 Swim-a-Thon for Fundraising

Consider the below when organizing your swim-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. Donors 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.

Swim-a-Thon Templates & Resources

Planning Resources

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

Canva Swim-A-Thon Infographic

Canva Running a Swim-A-Thon Checklist

Sample Swim-A-Thon Rules

Participant Eligibility

  • All students who wish to participate must register by a specified deadline.
  • Participants must demonstrate basic swimming proficiency and be supervised by a lifeguard while swimming at all times.

Safety Guidelines

  • Lifeguards must be present and attentive throughout the event.
  • Swimmers must follow all pool rules, including no running or horseplay in the pool area.

Pledge Collection

  • Swimmers are encouraged to collect pledges based on the number of laps swum or a flat donation.
  • Pledges should be recorded and processed through FutureFund via the link provided to each participant.

Swimwear & Equipment

  • Proper swim attire is required for all participants.
  • Swimmers may use personal swim gear like goggles, swim caps, and kickboards.

Swimming Sessions

  • Swimmers will be assigned specific times to manage pool capacity.
  • Each swim session will have a set duration, and swimmers are encouraged to swim their laps during this time period.

Rest and Hydration

  • Breaks are encouraged, and swimmers should stay hydrated.
  • Water will be available at the poolside.

Behavior Expectations

  • Respect for other swimmers, volunteers, and staff is mandatory.
  • Participants must follow the instructions of lifeguards and event coordinators.

Emergency Procedures

  • In case of an emergency, swimmers must stop immediately and follow lifeguard instructions.
  • First aid kits and emergency contact information must be readily available.

Spectator Rules

  • Spectators must remain in designated areas and not interfere with swimmers or pool operations.
  • Cheer and support in a manner that respects all participants.

Photography & Media

  • Photographs or videos may be taken for promotional purposes.
  • Notify the event coordinator if there are any privacy concerns.

Or, here’s a Canva template of sample Swim-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 Swim-A-Thon Rules Template

Sample Swim-A-Thon Event Description

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

Let’s make a splash! On [date], [school name] will be hosting a swim-a-thon to help fundraise for [cause]. You can help by joining our swim! 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!

Set up online pledges with FutureFund

Let parents and supporters donate online with FutureFund’s online pledges. 

Make your donation easily and instantly! Click this [link] to make your donation through secure credit or debit card payment.

If you prefer to donate by cash or check, just donate directly to the student you’re supporting. Thank you for your support!

Sample Swim-A-Thon Email Scripts

Use these Canva email script templates to call out for Swim-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 Swim-A-Thon Student Sign-up Email Template

Canva Swim-A-Thon Donor Email Template

Canva Final Week Push Swim-A-Thon Email Template

Design Templates for Promoting Your Swim-A-Thon

Use these Canva templates to help you spread awareness for your Swim-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 Swim-A-Thon Template for Instagram Story

Canva Swim-A-Thon Template for Instagram Post

Canva Swim-A-Thon Template for Printable Poster

Example caption: Support [insert school name]’s Swim-A-Thon from [insert date]. Help our school community raise money for [insert cause] by registering to swim as many laps as you can!

Swim-a-Thon Theme Ideas

Sea Animals

You can’t go wrong with a sea animals theme for a swim-a-thon. Participants can dress up as their favorite aquatic animals like fish, dolphins, or sharks.

Fantasy Creatures

For a fantasy theme, participants can dress up as fantasy sea creatures. Mermaids, Poseidon, The Kraken, and more.

Holiday

You can do a swim-a-thon at any time of year and match it with upcoming holidays. In the fall, for example, you can do a zombie or monster swim for Halloween.

Olympic

Swimming is one of the most popular events in the summer Olympics. For this theme, swimmers can dress up as Olympians and represent their country.

Wacky Tacky

For this theme, anything goes! Get participants to add the wackiest, tackiest, and craziest accessories to their swimsuits.

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Over

Raised For Our Schools Since 2014

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S, Kasad

Bollinger Elementary & Iron Horse Middle School

"FutureFund is always responsive to questions and suggestions, and added new corporate matching features based on my feedback. We rarely had to wait more than 24 hours for support and always felt taken care of."

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Tassajara Elementary

"FutureFund provides excellent onboarding and support for our organization. The FutureFund Team is based in America and easy to get on a call with to help us troubleshoot problems. Most issues are resolved within 24 hours!"