Tracking Your Fundraising Progress 5 Creative Ideas to Try!

Before reaching (or, exceeding!) your fundraising goal, you need to track your progression toward that achievement. Getting from Kick-Off to Event Day to Final Donation Day is a journey, and it’s important to be cognizant of your progress along the way. Not only does tracking your progress keep you and your team focused, but it also alerts you to what’s working and what’s not working with promoting your fundraiser and bringing in those donations. But, that’s not the only benefit.

Tracking fundraising progress keeps students, parents, and teachers motivated!

A large goal doesn’t seem impossible when you can visually see how far you’ve come and how far you have to go. Plus, when there are incentives to go along with reaching smaller goals along the way students are far more likely to bring in donations throughout your fundraiser, rather than dwindling down in the weeks between your kick-off and event. Here are 5 ideas we’ve found. We're excited to see these put into use by the creative and innovative minds of our Parent Group readers!

#1 The Classic Fundraising Thermometer

As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. There’s nothing more simple and to the point than the classic thermometer to track your fundraising progress.

Pro to the thermometer: It’s a clear illustration for all ages and quickly communicates where you are on your fundraising journey.

Con to the thermometer: It’s a bit overused and could be overlooked for its simplicity.

Our opinion: If it works for your school, use it. If you’re finding that you need to get a tad flashier to grab the attention of your students, try something new.

If you choose the former and decide the thermometer is right for you, here are a few places where you should feature either a cut-out thermometer or a digitized version for viewing online:

  • PTO Website
  • PTO Bulletin Board
  • PTO Social Media
  • Email or Letter Updates to Parents

#2 Classroom Jars

Our friends at Olita Elementary came up with this impressive display to highlight the progress each of their classrooms were making toward their individual classroom goals. By using the excitement and motivation that comes with some healthy competition, Olita was able to provide a great visual for students and teachers, while encouraging classrooms to bring in more donations and get their class jar filled to the brim!

Your team can follow Olita’s lead by making a bulletin board using this idea, or you could have a jar cut-out on each classroom door that displays the amount they have raised. Fill the cut-out by shading in the area with paint/marker, or you could have dollars or pennies that students are able to pin or glue to the board for their classroom each time another significant amount is reached.

#3 Leverage Incentives

Want to keep kids motivated to bring in donations? Here’s a hint: Use incentives! Whether they are physical items or amazing experiences, student incentives have been proven to light a fire under your fundraising efforts. One way to help keep track of your fundraising progress is to leverage your student incentives.

Take, for example, McCleskey Middle School. Last Fall they promoted their Color Run by offering a pie throwing contest for students to give some of their teachers a face full of sweet (and messy) goodness.

One way McCleskey could have tracked their progress through leveraging their student incentives is by creating a large pie graph on the PTO bulletin board. As the school neared its goal, the pie would get filled in – illustrating the progress and tying it into the final prize for the entire school once they reached their goal!

Your Parent Group can implement a similar idea. Throwing a movie night if the school reaches its goal? Get popcorn bucket cut-outs and for each grade, class, or for the entire school, fill up each bucket with cut-outs of popcorn to illustrate your progress. Giving students an ice cream social if you reach your goal? Follow the same format but trade it out for ice cream cones and scoops for each monetary mile marker!

#4 Fill in the Picture

Similar to leveraging student incentives, it is also smart to be working toward a tangible goal for your school. Rather than focusing solely on reaching a number amount, shift the focus to what this money will be able to purchase for the school. Whether that’s new computers, a school garden, new books for the library, or funds for student field trips.

Use these tangible goals to help track your overall progress. Use an image that represents the primary initiative that the fundraising money will go toward and get it printed at a local office supply store (they will be able to do it in a size large enough to display on your bulletin board or other common space). Cut the printed image into equal-sized squares. As you progress through your fundraiser, put up a square on the bulletin board. The more donations come in = the more the picture is filled in.

You could even leave it as a surprise so students have to raise enough to figure out where the money will be going and how it will be put to use for the school!

#5 Roadmaps & Races

As we said at the beginning of this post, fundraising is a journey, and it’s important to keep track of where you are on the path to your goal.

We’re not the only ones who love this metaphor. After searching through Pinterest, we saw many examples of visual roadmaps and races to illustrate where individuals, classrooms, grades, and the school as a whole are on the fundraising journey. Here are just a few ideas on ways to use the theme of travel and racing to track your progress:

  • Use your PTO bulletin board to illustrate a track. Give each grade or class a different color car and depict where each one falls on the track toward the finish line (i.e., your overall school goal, your classroom goals, or your goals for each grade - use our report system to track each goal).
  • Get your teachers involved by having them help you create maps to go one their doors. On each map, use a red circle or another image to illustrate where that classroom is on the journey toward their class goal.
  • Create a roadmap that is in a centrally-located space (i.e., cafeteria, PTO bulletin board, main hallway, etc.). Put stops along the way that depict the various school-wide student fundraising incentives you have in place. Use a car cut-out to show where the school is on the journey and the amount needed to achieve the next reward! Update the placement and the amount raised each week to keep up excitement and motivation.

The principal from Homestead Elementary shaved his head as a reward for students having gathered donations from all 50 states! That's one way to track (and reward!) progress. Our system makes keeping track of where your donations are coming from super easy - learn more!

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