The Multipurpose Room is back again with another guest speaker, The Barstow School’s Director of Advancement, Ryann Galloway Tacha, here to talk about PTA fundraising events in the new pandemic virtual world.
Fundraising is always at the forefront of any PTO or PTA’s agenda; this year, the terrain has been tougher than ever. But that doesn’t mean that PTAs have to miss out on fundraising events this year because there are many ways to make them successful while following social distancing protocols. We’ve got all you need to do right in this blog!
The annual gala is one of the largest and most popular fundraising events that a PTA hosts. Typically, this show-stopping event comes with all the strings: a fancy ballroom, a live auction, a raffle, and some good food and drink. While this format did rake in the donations, the leftover amount was less than impressive once you took away the dent made by all these expenses.
Alternatively, some PTAs or PTOs also host a somewhat untraditional annual gala in that they add in a theme, throw in some VIP tickets, have an awesome band, and even give people the option to come early and enjoy some drinks. And instead of all this taking place in a ballroom, they do it on the street or even within their affiliated school.
Of course, in the pandemic 2020, this is not possible, and many PTAs are hosting a virtual annual gala this year and the next. And despite what it may seem like, virtual galas can be just as successful, if not more.
The mode of delivery is seldom what establishes the success of a fundraising event. Instead, it’s the individuals that are targeted. Those who contribute the fundraised amount – the givers – come in a wide variety, of which the common two are donors that donate without expectations and those looking for a return. To make the most of a fundraising event, PTAs should combine these types of donors with a greater emphasis on the category that rakes in the most donations. So, in other words, PTAs need to exercise effective resource allotment when going about their fundraising strategies.
Engagement is a major issue when dealing with virtual events and developing events that get people involved is important. Here are some fun ideas:
1. Virtual Theatre
One of the most awaited events of the school year is the annual play, and in the modern age of technology, being restricted to screens is really no reason to miss out on this. PTAs can collaborate with local schools to hold a virtual theatre production. The students can be given kits to make their costumes, props, and green screens so they can film their scenes at home. The fundraising part comes in at the stage of access, where only those who pay for it will be given viewer passes.
2. Themed Packages
People seem to love themes. From zombies to Christmas to the animal kingdom – there’s loads to explore! PTAs can make themed packages that include cocktail mixes, snacks, decoration items, etc. It’s even better if these themes are picked right out of the theatre production being held because then you can include a meet-and-greet with the cast as part of your themed package.
3. Book Club
Of course, not all PTA events are aimed at fundraising, and a bi-weekly book club is a great addition. The great idea is to have a local school teacher host it and meet back online after every two weeks to discuss a book, with there being a virtual platform to share updates, questions, and comments during these weeks to keep engagement and interaction at a high.
4. Alumni Masterclass
School alumni often go on to achieve great heights, and many of them possess unique skills. This makes for a great alumni-led masterclass opportunity, particularly in these times of virtual restrictions. Reaching out to alumni working as chefs, press secretaries, actors, and interior designers – to name a few – is a great idea for masterclasses and talks.
5. Zoom Trivia Night
It’s no secret that everyone is fed up with Zoom, but the key to making it work is using Zoom in a way that makes people love it. Hosting a fun-filled trivia night is just one such way. PTAs can pick a category in advance and divide attendees into teams, with the winning lot receiving appreciation on social media platforms. Not only will it boost spirits for those attending, but it’s also likely to attract more participants for your next virtual event.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Successful PTA Events
Of course, to make any event a success, time and effort must be put in. And there are always some do’s and don’ts to follow. PTAs should avoid restricting themselves in terms of what they are and aren’t open to, and they should never shy away from inviting people into their creative process. You never know; your next big event idea might come from a unexpected source.
Similarly, just because everyone suffers from Zoom fatigue doesn’t mean PTAs should stay away from the platform altogether. Instead, they should use it in a fun and innovative way that’s easy for all. When meeting potential donors, whether in person or via an online meeting, make sure to make them comfortable. This includes dressing non intimidatingly and using language that does not confuse.
Perhaps, the most important thing of all is to listen and listen well. This is particularly important for those involved in fundraising, as people will tell you precisely what you need to hear if you pay them some attention. And after all, asking the right questions becomes much easier once you’ve absorbed what others are saying.
So, there you have it, a complete rundown of how to ensure your virtual PTA event is a success – along with some unique ideas for what to host during these trying times.