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LATEST FROM OUR BLOG
Top Fundraising Tools for Schools

Top Fundraising Tools for Schools

Using the right tools to run your fundraisers is vital for their success. Here’s a list of the best fundraising tools for schools and PTAs, including FutureFund and several others that we consider valuable.

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

Swim-a-Thon 101

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

2

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

Thon’s can be a powerful fundraising tool.

3

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

The tools, support, and volunteers you’ll need for a successful Swim-a-Thon.

4

Using a Swim-a-Thon to Fundraise

How to raise money with swim-a-thons.

5

Templates, Ideas, Tools, & Resources

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

6

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.

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

The main thing you have to plan for a swim-a-thon is the length or your route. 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

Your swim-a-thon will have a pre-determined length, so the swimming goal for participants should be to complete the distance or number of laps.

Other Considerations

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

Recommended Starting Rules

Follow these steps for a successful swim-a-thon:

Before you start telling students and parents about the swim-a-thon, you should decide the following:

  • Length
  • Location
  • Date
  • Theme

Hold the swim-a-thon on a weekend, either Saturday on Sunday.

Because swim-a-thons work best on the weekend, tell people about the fundraiser at least 1 month in advance, so they can add it to their schedule.

Choose a distance between 1 and 10 laps.

Give participants ample time to complete the swim. If you’re using a pool, you’ll need to plan swim times for each participant.

Frequently Asked Questions About Swim-a-Thons

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

Sample swim-a-thon rules

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

To participate in the swim-a-thon, you sign up through FutureFund by [date]. The swim-a-thon is on [date], so make sure you block it off in your calendar! And don’t forget 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].

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!

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.

Trusted By Schools Everywhere

FutureFund is used by over 1,000+ organizations, including:

Over

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

Heather Wright

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!"