3 Tools for Parent Volunteers Hosting Virtual Fundraisers

Today’s article comes from Debbie Salat at ABC Fundraising, and with over 20 years of fundraising experience, Debbie offers the following advice for parents and guardians volunteering at their childrens’ schools. Parent and guardian volunteers are vital to the success of so many school and afterschool programs – and it’s important that they have the correct tools at their disposal. 

COVID-19 is an obstacle for the school fundraising event season, but that doesn’t mean your PTA has to cancel your fundraiser! Your school likely needs even more fundraising than ever before. Virtual fundraisers are the answer to remaining safe while raising enough money to hit your goals.

From virtual walkathons to live-stream talent shows, we’ve seen parent-teacher organizations develop ingenious fundraising ideas to keep everyone connected, even in trying times. However, running a virtual event can be tricky because if you’ve never hosted one before. Luckily there are a multitude of helpful tools for running your event as smoothly as possible.

Regardless of if you’re running a virtual gala or if you’re hosting a silent auction online, there are robust and affordable software platforms your school can invest in for optimal results. Let’s get into a few of the best tools for running virtual school fundraisers: 

  • Fundraising Thermometer
  • Event-Specific Solutions
  • Social Media Marketing Tools

Let’s dive into the three types of tools your parent-teacher organization can use to raise money for their next virtual event:

Fundraising Thermometer

Looking for the most engaging way to keep track of the progress of your school’s virtual fundraising campaign? Fundraising thermometers are reliable and efficient tools for keeping your PTA and your supporters up-to-date on your goal progress.

Fundraising thermometers offer a variety of benefits for both you and your donors. For example, they can:

  • Motivate your donors with a visual of how far you’ve come in your fundraising progress.
  • Be updated easily and embedded on your school’s website for quick reference.
  • Act as a hub for your campaign’s updates. 

This tool is excellent because your parents and students can check on your fundraising progress and will therefore be further engaged with your campaign. For example, when you near the completion of your fundraising goal, people will be encouraged to give based on the visual of the thermometer almost filled to the top.

This tool is great for any kind of virtual campaign your organization chooses to host, and you don’t just have to track money with a thermometer. You can also follow specific progress regarding:

  • Product sales.
  • Registrants for your virtual event.
  • Distance completed if you’re hosting a 5k or walk-a-thon event.

This engaging visual tool provides endless options for ways you can use it to your advantage. All you’ll have to do to create your thermometer and embed it on your site is just a few simple steps:

With these few steps, your PTA will be set for tracking your virtual fundraiser’s progress. As a tip, ensure that you’re keeping it updated regularly with the most recent information, and you’ll be good to go!

Event-Specific Solutions

No matter which fundraising idea you pick, there are software solutions to help you out in all areas. Again, translating your fundraising event to the virtual sphere doesn’t have to be hard, especially when you have robust tools that will do a lot of the work for you. 

For example, you’re able to find tools that will do the following for a virtual event of any type:

  • Streamlining registration
  • Retaining donor data for future communications
  • Offering mobile-friendly interfaces

These features can serve a variety of events. However, there are some specific tools cut out for popular PTA-hosted events. Let’s take a look at a few:

Virtual Auctions

Virtual auctions have taken off in popularity since the beginning of COVID-19. This is because they’re easily translatable to the virtual sphere with the right software. With such platforms, your PTA has the option to host silent or live-streamed virtual auctions.

Regardless of what type of auction you choose, look for software that includes robust mobile bidding capabilities. This feature is so important because your school simply can’t collect bids through your virtual auction without it. Here’s what to look for in a mobile bidding tool:

  • Real-time bidding notifications to keep everyone looped in.
  • The ability to browse available items.
  • Registration and ticketing.

When your software has mobile bidding capabilities and other helpful features, you’re sure to raise a lot with this virtual event.

Virtual Galas

A virtual gala can engage parents and students to encourage them to support your school. At an in-person gala, your PTA would have to configure caterers and venues that can take a lot out of your event budget. Virtual galas are cost-efficient and safe options during the COVID-19 era.

To make your virtual gala as exciting as an in-person gala, you’ll want to have the best software possible. Here’s what to look for in a virtual gala software solution:

  • Chat options
  • High-quality video streaming
  • Elegant backdrop options
  • Bidding availability

With features such as these, your event will engage donors and bring in as much revenue as your in-person option. Be sure to encourage your attendees to share their fun gala experiences on social media. 

Finally, provide your parents and staff with an easy reference to the links they’ll need to join and contribute to your school. Include a fun host and exciting perks, and you’ll be on your way to hosting a memorable event. 

We’ve covered just a handful of popular virtual school events; however, there are so many profitable event options you can choose from. Whichever you choose, just make sure you have the right software to help you reach your goals, whether financially or with attendance numbers.

Social Media Marketing Tools

Last but certainly not least, your PTA should use social media to promote your virtual school fundraisers. Without ample coverage, your students and staff won’t know your event is happening!

According to this virtual fundraising guide from Fundly, social media is the key to hitting your attendance goals. This way, your fundraising event information appears in their daily lives when they check their social media feeds. Your target audience likely follows your school’s pages, so it’ll be easy for you to communicate with them through this route.

Some best practices for your virtual event’s social media marketing include: 

  • Posting content native to the platforms you use. When posting your event content on multiple platforms, make sure you vary the content based on platform best practices. For example, you could post a long-form explainer about your event on Facebook. However, you likely wouldn’t put the full text in an Instagram caption.
  • Creating a hashtag to collect event media. Consider developing a hashtag for your event and encourage your attendees to use it. This way, you can see everyone’s photos and videos from your virtual event in one place,
  • Tracking your social media analytics. Social media is a beneficial tool because it can track your engagements and deliver actionable data. Use this data to see what works and what doesn’t work in your social media strategy for your future virtual fundraising events.

Now that you have tips that will boost awareness about your event, coordinate with your PTA members to develop a posting schedule. This way, no information will be double-posted, and your team is all on the same page. 


This crash course can be an excellent starting point for your search, but there are so many other options available if you settle on a specific virtual fundraiser idea. For fundraising idea inspiration, the ABC Fundraising idea guide has a plethora of inspiration for your next endeavor. Whatever your team chooses, is sure to be successful when your PTA is equipped with the best tools.

To run a successful school fundraiser online, you’ll need an interesting idea but also robust software tools. Going forward, take into account all of the fundraising software you think you’ll need. From there, conduct some research on which can work best for your school.

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