Combine Crowdfunding and Community Events to Achieve Fundraising Success

Nonprofit raffle tickets

You’ve probably seen examples of crowdfunding campaigns gone viral that met their goal in a matter of mere hours or days but the reality is that that is the exception, not the rule. The truth of crowdfunding is that meeting a fundraising goal can be challenging for even the largest nonprofit organization but it can often be near impossible for the smaller nonprofit—such as parent-teacher organizations (PTOs) and schools, for example.

Given the challenging nature of crowdfunding for these smaller entities, one Jupiter (Florida) elementary school PTO—a licensed 501(c)(3)—thought outside the box. When it became apparent to the PTO board members that the crowdfunding campaign was going to fall short of its goal, the board had to brainstorm in order to come at its goal from a new angle. The ideas they came up with to raise additional money during a school- and community-wide event may give your nonprofit school or parent-teacher organization food for thought.

Find the Opportunity in Falling Short

In 2015, Jupiter Farms Community Elementary School (JFCES), with an enrollment of just over 500 students, wanted to raise money to build an outdoor track on its campus. The project wasn’t on the radar (or in the budget) for the county school district so the school’s PTO board decided to try crowdfunding to help reach its $25,000 goal. Falling short of that goal, however, meant that the PTO had to ‘up the ante’ during its local community event.

Try Something New

They formulated a few ideas for the school’s annual Fall festival known as Panther Prowl (the panther is the school mascot), which takes place around Halloween. Open to the public and advertised both on the Facebook page of the local residents group and via simple flyers sent home with every student, Panther Prowl typically brings in a modest profit, but this particular year the stakes were higher. Consequently, the PTO board opted to raise money via some new-to-the-event methods:

1. Admission fees—it was free for kids and $5 for parents/adult family members;
2. Food trucks—they paid a flat registration fee to park their vehicle and sell food;
3. A baked goods sale—all goodies were prepared by student families and donated for sale;
4. A pay-per-throw dunk tank—teachers and the principal took turns sitting in it;
5. A silent auction of themed baskets—one from each classroom, created and filled with donations from class families relevant to the basket theme.

Believe It and Achieve It

Between crowdfunding and the money generated during Panther Prowl, JFCES managed to completely fund its track with all moneys coming directly from student families, relatives, and friends. While some nonprofits may question how to proceed following a crowdfunding shortfall, the JFCES PTO board took it as a chance to come up with new ways to generate profit during its annual Fall event. It was a gamble that paid off for them and can for your school or PTO if you’re up for the challenge and utilizing the services of a crowdfunding site like can make accepting and processing donations easier than ever before!

Find the perfect grants for you at

About the Author: Dawn has firsthand experience as a nonprofit volunteer for her local Parent Teacher Organization and was instrumental in assisting with the crowdfunding and community fundraising processes to help her school meet its fundraising goals.