How to Host Read-a-thons and Reading Fundraisers

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What Are Peer-to-Peer Reading Fundraisers and Challenges?

Read-a-thon fundraisers and reading challenges make great school fundraisers, as they promote children’s literacy and a love of reading. Many schools do this via peer-to-peer fundraising, where students commit to reading to raise money for a school or library. Reading fundraisers should boost reading skills by offering an academic challenge or competition that kids will enjoy.

It’s easy to get parents excited about a reading fundraiser, as it’s a healthy fundraiser with no product sales requirements. With reading challenges, kids aren’t spending time fundraising instead of studying or learning. Instead, learning is key to this type of fundraising event. Set a reading goal and watch students exceed it!

Organizing the details of a reading fundraiser from beginning to end is easy when powered by our peer-to-peer websites. With our donor-friendly platform, your school or PTO can create a free fundraising website to take your read-a-thon campaign to the next level.

Utilizing Peer-to-Peer Software for Your Read-a-thon

Our fundraising software makes planning and managing reading fundraisers simple and effective. It is designed for fundraising reading challenges in which students and classrooms collect donations for their school, PTO/PTA, library, or other school groups. Administrators can easily configure the website creatively to meet your school’s specific needs, and participants will learn and have fun when they personalize their web pages.

Features of our powerful peer-to-peer software for reading fundraisers include:

  • Readers have a personal fundraising page, which is easily shared via email and social media
  • Classrooms or grade levels have fundraising pages that include all participants’ combined fundraising progress
  • Fundraising thermometers, leaderboards, and top fundraisers are tracked and displayed on your website (if desired) to promote friendly competition between participants and help your group reach fundraising goals
  • Mobile giving features such as free text to donate and support for digital wallets
  • Privacy features can be enabled so that last names do not show on the fundraising website
  • Off-line donations and checks are easily tracked and entered from a pledge sheet to the software at no cost
  • Administrators can import students or enable easy online registration
  • Our Athon component supports per unit of effort pledges based on the amount of time, pages, or books participants read
  • Students can log time or books in their online reading log

Basic Logistics for a Reading-a-thon Fundraiser

Reading-based fundraisers vary from school to school, and customizing the fundraiser for your school and community is important. With a peer-to-peer reading fundraiser, there are a few options for the basic logistics. Your school or library group should consider these things at the outset:

  • Will you provide reading sessions during school, or will kids be asked to read as many books as possible during the specified reading period? It’s best to provide reading time at school so that everyone participates. 20-40 minutes per day is perfect for most age groups.
  • What is the length of the Reading Challenge? Generally, limiting the length of the reading fundraiser from 1-2 weeks is best. Your goal is to keep motivation high, and spreading the event out for too long can be discouraging. Give kids the time to get excited and promote the fundraiser.
  • Will students be assigned specific books to read, or will they select their books? Kids generally get to select their books and read what they want during a reading challenge. However, magazines, comic books, or picture books are generally discouraged during the reading fundraiser. (Of course, books such as Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which include many comics, are still great options for young readers.)

Steps to Organize a Reading Fundraiser

Steps to Organize a Readathon Fundraiser

Here are the basic steps to getting your reading fundraiser started on the road to success:

  • Organize a planning committee. You’ll need a strong leadership team to make the fundraiser successful.
  • Event administrators choose a time period for the reading. Some schools have reading sessions during the school day, while others encourage students to read as many books as possible during the designated period. Other schools make the read-a-thon one special day out of the school year, where kids come dressed in PJs with their favorite books in hand.
  • Decide if your school will count chapters, pages, or reading periods (reading minutes, hours, or sessions) for the fundraising unit of effort.
  • Decide on your process for recording reading progress. Will students use a reading log, or how will you track reading progress?
  • Create your reading fundraising website with DoJiggy.
  • Import students and classrooms or ask them to register online with our easy registration page to create their fundraising pages.
  • Students send links to their fundraising pages via email and social media (Twitter, Facebook, and more) and get supporters who donate (via a flat donation) or pledge (per book or another unit) in support of their reading efforts.
  • Our software tracks participation and fundraising progress throughout the event.
  • Leaderboards and fundraising thermometers are posted with top fundraisers and classrooms to motivate students.
  • Administrators wrap up the event by calculating pledges and offline donations.
  • Top fundraisers and classrooms are awarded prizes.

Speaking of Prizes…

Kids love prizes of all kinds and will work hard to earn even small prizes. We recommend that prizes be structured to encourage everyone to participate and not leave anyone behind.

Prizes for read-a-thon fundraisers
  • Participation – Students receive a small prize (ie, a pencil, sticker, or choice from a treasure box of small items) for registering as a reader on your crowdfunding website.
  • $100 or Other Attainable Level – Students receive a free t-shirt, hat, or other memorabilia or school spirit award when they reach this level of fundraising. Some schools also include a raffle option; anyone reaching the goal is entered into a raffle for prizes.
  • Top Student Fundraisers – The top three school fundraisers receive large prizes, like $50 and $100 gift cards.
  • Classroom with 100% Participation – When everyone in the classroom has registered or collected at least one donation, students receive extra recess or a dress-down day. These are free prizes that do not cost your school any money but are very popular with kids.
  • Top Fundraising Classrooms – Students receive a pizza party or similar luncheon event for the top one or two fundraising classrooms.

Read more about how our software will help your school or organization encourage your peer-to-peer participants to fundraise and find the right prizes for your school-a-thon.

More Book-Based Fundraising Activities

More Read-a-thon and Book-Based Fundraising Activities

Make your reading fundraiser the highlight of the school year for children by adding fun reading and book-based fundraising activities and incentives. Adding other activities alongside the main reading-a-thon contest will be more fun for your participants and donors.

Great reading ideas vary according to age group, yet all these fundraising ideas for schools are brimming with imagination and possibilities. Be creative in advertising on your school blog, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages to generate chatter around your event.

Host a School Reading Night 

To kick off elementary school events, having kids show up wearing PJs with their pillows and stuffed animals at school is a fun idea. Have each classroom agree on a favorite book and decorate their doors as giant book covers. The giant book cover door will open to find the room decorated with a scene from the book. You could have parents, teachers, or community volunteers do the reading. Everyone can then meet in the cafeteria to celebrate the evening with hot chocolate and cookies and read one more story before returning home. This gathering also offers the chance to sell raffle tickets and earn additional income.

Bedtime Reading Night for Read-a-thons

Plan a Pop-up Book Store

Invite your favorite local bookstore to hold a book sale at your school the week before your reading challenge. Ask students, teachers, and parents to list their favorite books or those they wish their children to read. Supporters may buy books for themselves or donate them to the library. In addition to funds, this event generates more interest in reading for the fundraiser. The bookstore donates a portion of book sales as a sponsorship to kick off the reading fundraiser.

Pop-up Book Stores for read-a-thon fundraisers

Reading to the Community Events

Reading to the Community

Reading fundraisers can take on a community service twist by reading to elderly folks in nursing homes or children in hospitals. Schools can organize a time and location for each classroom to volunteer in a community-based read. Everyone will find this event rewarding, and your students will learn the joy and value of sharing the gift of reading. Your donors will be inspired by the rich layers of service and education you bring to the community.

Organize a School Book Exchange

Organize a school-wide book exchange to kick off your reading fundraiser. Ask students to bring in books they’ve already read in exchange for a number created by the event organizers using postcards. Place the books on display in the school library or gymnasium and group them into age categories. The children will choose the books they wish to have with their postcards. Offering spare postcards to the kids who cannot bring in books is a good idea to make everyone part of the event.

School Book Exchange

Start a Book Club

Book Club

A book club encourages your students to read and share their thoughts about each character and story. Inviting students to socialize around reading by setting up book clubs and reading groups to encourage interaction around books greatly enhances students’ comprehension and makes reading more enjoyable.

Find Community Sponsorships

Another fundraising idea is to ask local and regional bookstores to sponsor your reading event by providing posters, flyers, and paid advertisements in the local newspaper and radio station. They will be happy to be involved and receive great publicity on your fundraising website to help further the education and literacy of the young citizens in their community.

Community Sponsorship

Benefits of Read-a-thon Fundraisers

Benefits of Read-a-thon Fundraisers

In case you still aren’t convinced if a reading fundraiser is right for your school, Parent Teacher group, or library fundraiser – take a look at these unmatched benefits of hosting a read-a-thon or reading fundraiser.

Peer to Peer reading events make for an excellent fundraising event for schools and PTOs as they:

  • Promote literacy skills and a love of reading books in young readers
  • Are a healthy fundraiser – no candy bars or cookie dough involved
  • Encourage parents to read with younger children, strengthening the parent-child bond
  • Are a low-cost, easy to organize fundraising event
  • And, of course, they are a great way to raise money for your school, school library, or group!