Assumption Celebrates 10th Anniversary Bike Ride

A little k-8 school in Granger with around 65 students held another successful Bike Ride Around Granger (B.R.A.G.), raising over $30,000 in total donations on what happened to be their 10th anniversary of the ride.

At FundMonkey, this was our first school, as a matter of fact, Cindy and I built the FundMonkey campaign management software after being on the B.R.A.G. committee in 2008 and hosting a successful fundraiser.  Somebody came to us and said, “we should find a way to help other schools do this”.  That encouraging phrase led to a startup software company Empowerment Solutions, LLC and FundMonkey was born.

In 2009 we beta tested our original platform at Assumption School and a few weeks later at Nodland-Sunnyside in Sioux City.  After a shaky start, we started seeing the true potential of our unique, campaign-management approach.  We learned several lessons from our own event and we continue to learn from our customers resulting in new upgrades every year that enhance our service and better serve our customers.

The most important lessons, however, were the following….

  1. The event is for fun and it’s the campaign that actually raises money with this formula… Communication + Motivation = Participation = Donation
  2. The event planning and the campaign management are TWO different activities.   Fundraising committees need to split into two teams, the event team and the campaign team and approach each of their respective duties with the end in mind – a fun interactive campaign followed by a fun event.
  3. Schools that switch from food and product based fundraising have been known to double and triple their fundraising proceeds – we continue to be blown way by your success.
  4. Schools that add FundMonkey to their existing fundraising event will make donating easier for donors and safer for participants while adding as much as 30% or more to their total fundraising proceeds.

So, congratulations to Assumption Elementary School in Granger, Iowa and thank you for being our inspiration, our initial “guinea pig” and for letting me be the DJ for the last 8th years of the bike ride.  It’s not everyday I get to play my favorite music outside on my loudest speakers, at full volume and get a thumbs up from the police officer controlling traffic at the intersection.   We’re very blessed here at FundMonkey!

Change Log: 10-1-2015 Updated Donation Reports

In response to a few customer  requests, we’ve updated some of our reporting.  The Donation Details report and the Participant Summary report now both include the donation code, team and team leader and now Participant Summary is downloadable as an excel spreadsheet.

We also changed the web view of the Participant Summary to include the above information as well as show donations in descending order from the highest amount to the lowest amount.

Way to Go Pine Creek Elementary

A shout out to Pine Creek Elementary.  They added FundMonkey to their already successful Walk-a-thon and collected 30% of their total donations online through our secure transaction server.   Final count’s aren’t in yet, but rumor has it they will beat their goal.  Visit their fundraising website to see how they did it!

Change Log: 9-15-2015 Launching New Blog & Social Media

We are working on doing a better job on sharing FundMonkey’s social footprint.  We have social sites setup but we wanted to add more with a new blog that pushes content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media outlets.  In September, while many of our customers were raising money with Bike-a-thons, Fun Runs and Walk-a-thons, we updated the FundMonkey home page to provide links to our social networking sites.

Our Blog – is the source for all new content and blog posts.  Our Production is greatly complimented with the new Blog.  The FundMonkey blog is designed to enhance our search engine visibility and make it simpler to share information with our customers.

Summertime Planning for Your Fundraiser

We usually suggest that it takes about 60 to 90 days to plan and host your fundraising event in order to achieve maximum results.

This Spring, a school held their first fundraising event with us, and did it all in only 4 weeks, from their initial phone call to their event date.   Their goal was only $9,000, however, they raised over $18,000 dollars with profits of around 95%.  We love this story!

After the dust was settled I’m sure the question was there, nagging in the background…. “How much more $ could we have raised with just a little more planning?”  We know this question well, because we’ve heard it before.

Here are a few simple things you can do over your summer vacation to prepare for your Fall Fundraiser.

1.  Register your event early – We have so much information available on our website, that registering early and accessing the know-how page will give you a HUGE head start!

You will also have time to experiment with your Pride Page, the Event Management tools and the Pride Pledge transaction server.

Don’t be afraid to test these services.  Add yourself as a participant, experiment with the email gateway and make a $1 donation to see how the system works.    

2.  Prepare for some ‘light’ reading – In the exclusive know-how section you will have access to our integrated “Step-by-Step” guide.   Here you will find 17 links with detailed information about planning your event, managing a successful campaign and hosting your fundraiser.

Reading on VacationAt the bottom of each page is a link that reads “Printer-Friendly Page”.  Make your pages printer friendly, print them and store them in a binder for light reading between snoozes in your hammock.

3.  Download and Edit Forms and Fliers –   You’ll find several sample letters, forms and fliers on our Know-how page.  Each of these documents is in Microsoft Word format.

You are welcome to download and edit each document for your specific event as needed.  Each of these documents is formatted to print on your event stationery.

If you have an idea for a new document that helped with your event, send it to us.  We’ll post it for others to use!

4.  Talk to Potential Business Sponsors – Much of the pre-planning that we suggest is preparation for your kickoff.  Your goal is to have all the business sponsors and donated prizes lined up before your kickoff.

Use the materials in your starter kit and the sample letters on the Know-how page to send letters and donation forms to local businesses and request cash or in-kind contributions.

A week after sending the letters, assign event committee members to follow up with your potential businesses sponsors.  Inform potential sponsors of the viral nature of your custom Pride Page and how many views you expect your page will receive during your campaign.

5.  Get Email Addresses – After several years, we think we’ve discovered the formula for fundraising success:  Communication + Motivation = Participation = Donation

Manage your event from your home computer.   Our tools will allow you to share your event, contests and incentives directly with participants or their parents via email.

Blue Email IconTake-home fliers and “backpack stuffers”  may also work, but only if they find their way out of the backpacks.

You should also send pledge codes and your custom Pride Page link by email at least twice a week, significantly increasing participation and donations!

Getting email addresses for your participants will significantly increase communications with participants and parents and increase the success of your fundraising campaign!  Take time during the summer to determine your strategy and update your mailing list.

6.  Trust your brain –  With all the reading and thinking about your fundraising event during the summer, you will become very familiar with our system and the steps for hosting a successful event.

Soon you will develop instincts on the best way to approach your event.  Trust those instincts, trust your brain!  If you’re still unsure, just give us a call, and we’ll happily share our experience with you.

When you return from your vacation, you will be refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.

In just a few short weeks, while tanning on the beaches, you’ve become your group’s, fundraising expert, and you’ll be able to make thoughtful, informed decisions with our experience, resources and know-how at your service!



Popular Questions about Healthy Fundraising

We receive several questions about how much we charge for our campaign management software and why it’s a valuable part of your fun-run and walk-a-thon. Hopefully this will answer a lot of your questions.

Q. How much does the campaign management software cost?

The licensing fee is only $149 dollars, perhaps less if you have a promotion code. Best of all, there are NO monthly fees! All returning customers will receive a promo code for a $50 discount the following year.

Q: What is included with the Licensing Fee?

A. The FundMonkey license allows users to setup their account, create their fundraising webpage, create donation codes for participants, send bulk email to participants and manage online donations by participant, group and group leader (grade level and teacher). You also have access to our know-how page to help improve your fundraising success. Don’t forget our excellent customer service!

Q: How long is the software license good fore?

A: Your campaign remains active in our system until you close your event. Closing your event at the end of your fundraiser, will render your account and pledge codes inactive. All funds collected online will be sent to the physical mailing address provided at registration. Your fundraising page will still be visible but you will not have access for editing. Please make any post-event changes before closing your account.

Q. Are there credit card processing fees?

A. Yes, our total for online transactions is only 9%. We split that with the bank to cover all the transaction and monthly security fees. Overall bank fees are roughly 4% of each transaction and FundMonkey charges 5% to help cover our expenses and pay our staff for a total of 9% fees for only the transactions we process online.

Remember, you keep 100% of the donations you collect in person and 100% of the funds received from business sponsors.

Q. Is there software I have to install?

A. There is no software to install. As long as you have an Internet Browser such as FireFox or Internet Explorer and an Internet connection you are ready to get started.

FundMonkey is a web-based platform. You will setup your fundraising webpage, upload participants or enable online registration, communicate with participants and process donations online through our secure credit card gateway using your web browser.

Q: How do we use the FundMonkey to maximize our proceeds?

A: We have a proven formula that has been shown to work time and again: “Communication + Motivation = Participation = Donation”. With this in mind, the campaign management tools are designed to maximize your proceeds.

Start by uploading participant information and email addresses into our system. Our system will automatically create donation codes for each participant. Don’t worry about sharing this information with us, it is jealously guarded per our privacy policy.

Use the campaign management tools to email hundreds of donation codes to participants. The email includes fundraisng webpage and donation codes and encourages use of social media to make your fundraiser go viral and increase online donations throughout the campaign.

Participants will be notified, by email, each time a donation is made with their code.

You can also use the bulk email tool to send custom emails to all your participants and/or parents. Sharing information about contests and prizes will create competition among your participants.

Regular communication with parents and participants using the Event Management tools WILL increase participation and maximize your proceeds.

Q: Do we have to use ALL the services and ideas available on the know-how page?

A: Once you register your campaign with us, you are welcome to use as much or as little of the services and materials we provide. Your registered campaign license is for YOUR unique event. We’ll respect your wishes and do our best to provide a helping hand and sound advice, we want everyone to be successful.

In addition, your event will grow every year and you’ll have the flexibility to try different things each year. Many of your ideas will be very successful, if so, please share them with us and we’ll share them with the rest of our newsletter subscribers.

Nodland Sunnyside Case Study

Group Name: Nodland-Sunnyside PTA
Event Type: Walk for Pride
Challenges:  First ever Walk-a-thon
Opportunity: Make a Change from Catalog Sales
Goal:  $18,000 from students

When Nodland-Sunnyside PTA decided to host their first ever Walk For Pride, they did so with hesitation.  Their two schools, Nodland Elementary and Sunnyside Elementary, really depend on the proceeds from their annual catalog fundraiser to meet their financial needs.  Risking that revenue would strain their already tight buNodland Walk for Pride Photodget.

After their PTA group held a conference call with Pride Fundraising’s support staff, they made the decision to move forward.

With the tools, advice and know-how provided by Pride Fundraising, Nodland-Sunnyside started with a focus on community and parental involvement.   Emily, event co-chair, shares her experience below.

“We started by soliciting donations from area businesses.  Some of these businesses were owned or managed by parents of students; we also concentrated on businesses located near our school and the college track where we would be holding our event.  These businesses were given advertising space on ourPride Page and on t-shirts.

We raised nearly $5,000 in cash from local businesses, enough to easily cover the costs associated with the event, such as participant t-shirts and bounce houses. We had many other businesses donate prizes, water, food, and items for the goodie bags.

We kicked off the event with a rally at both elementary schools. The kids were told that if we hit our school goal, Principal. Hansen would get a pair of green shoes that he’d have to wear for a whole week to all of his meetings.  As an incentive, the kids all received their own little green high-top sneaker keychains.

The packets were sent home with all the students. These packets were ready for pledges and included several of the templates downloaded from Pride Fundraising’s Event Know-How page.  Each packet had letters for the parents, t-shirt order forms and “Employee Matching Gift” forms for parents’ employers to potentially double their contributions.

Parents were asked to help primarily with the event itself by volunteering to mark off laps, man the first aid station, sell water & snack mix, register participants. Other parents assisted with sorting t-shirts and filling the participant goodie bags.  A select group of parents were needed during the campaign.  Each Friday morning and afternoon they would tally weekly pledges for two schools.

During the campaign, each week for 3 weeks leading up to the event, we collected packets on Fridays.  Volunteers collected money, tallied pledges, marked the pledges tallied, on the envelopes, with highlighters and handed the packets back.

We held a contest every Friday for the most packets turned in for each classroom, not the most money raised.  We announced the winners on Monday.  The winning class got a prize, like granola bars.  The kids really enjoyed hearing their class announced over the loud speaker.

We also drew names from each school from the list of kids who turned in their packets. We drew 5 names per week from each school for a variety of prizes.

In Summary, the response from the parents and community was fantastic.  The event itself was held on a beautiful September afternoon – everyone in attendance had a great time and enjoyed the day and activities. Students were awarded a participation certificate with the number of laps.

Our first year participation was around 40%.  I was a little disappointed by that number, but am reminded that as this event grows each year; our numbers will increase as well.  Even with 40% participation, we met our fundraising goal.  I don’t have the data to compare this participation level to previous years.

Because we hit our goal, Mr. Hansen was “awarded” a pair of green Converse shoes.  He proudly wore them to all of his meetings and even our holiday programs in December.  We also had a “pie eating contest” wherein Mr. Hansen got green pie in the face. The students participating in that event were randomly selected from all the students who achieved their $100 goal. We even had local news on hand to record the event.  The video was aired on the evening and morning news.

The FundMonkey staff was great to work with and we are already making plans for next year.  Our goal is to get our business sponsorships sooner, before the kickoff.  We will also get more e-mail addresses from parents and use the Event Management tools for informing parents of the easy-to-use, online donation tools.

We’re very excited about the potential for next year’s Walk for Pride.”

Emily (Event Co-Chair)

Nodland-Sunnyside PTA

Change Log: 4-8-2015 New Credit Card Gateway

In the Summer of 2014 we were notified by our merchant processor TSYS Acquiring Solutions (they handle the credit card transactions) that they were discontinuing their current payment gateway “PayFuse” and switching to a new system.  This Spring our talented programmers created new credit card gateways for processing donations, registration fees, license fees and catalog purchases and sending them securely to TSYS for processing.

During this upgrade, we threw in a few other little extras:

  1. Changed the auto generated donation codes to include a hyphen “-” instead of an underscore “_” following the campaign ID to make donating easier on tablets and smartphones.
  2. Differentiated the order ID numbers, sent to TSYS, to allow us to more easily identify transactions types through the merchant processor database and track them back to the school and the fundraising participant.
  3. After implementation, some customers noticed a higher than average credit card declined notice.  After  monitoring the site activity noticed that some donors were including extraneous characters with their donation such as a “$” dollar sign.  The programmers changed the code to strip all extraneous characters from the dollar amount field.  Customer support contacted all affected donors and helped them complete their donations.

Small School Improves Profits with FundMonkey

In September, Assumption School held their 5th annual “Bike Ride Around Granger.”   For the last two years, they’ve relied on the marketing materials and technology, offered by Pride Fundraising, to help their school market their event with a custom Pride Page, acquire corporate sponsorships and raise money through on-line donations.Assumption School, a small k-8 school with only 80 students, chose to increase their proceeds by focusing on the online donation tools included with Pride Fundraising’s event management interface.  Their story is below.

80 Students Increase Online Donations by 164% over the Previous Year. 

“The previous year, we used FundMonkey for the first time and were very pleased with the service and customer support.  In 2009, we raised around $23,000”, writes Deb, event co-chair.  “After four years, we had really dialed in our Bike Ride, so, for our 5th annual ride in 2010, we decided to really push drive the campaign and the built-in credit card donation tools provided by FundMonkey.

“We did several things to increase our online donations.

  1. Created a weekly contest for the donation from the furthest away.  We also gave a prize each week for the person with the most online donations.
  2. We sent weekly reminders to parents encouraging their promotion and sharing of the Pride Page and pledge codes to their friends and family with e-mail and social networking.
  3. Held a ‘final push’ contest to help students wrap up online donations.
  4. Created email templates for parents to use.
  5. Created Facebook/Twitter status templates for parents to personalize and use
  6. Online donation information was included in EVERY piece of communication with parents. From emails and messages sent home with the students to information on our school website – our families were reminded multiple times of the simplicity of online donations through our Pride Page.

“Overall, our success was due in large part to the ease of the FundMonkey system.  Our families found it easy to request donations from outside our local community without having to ask Aunt Becky in Paducah to write a check, put it in an envelope, mail the envelope and then send the check to school with our students.

“The ease of use, combined with the familiarity of using the event management tools for a second year and our commitment to promoting the online donations, helped increase our online donations by 164% over the prior year.

“Our event raised an additional $1,754 in online donations, pushing our total event proceeds to just over $25,000, an all time record.  FundMonkey really helped us maximize our proceeds!”

Boost Your Proceeds with Employer Matching Gifts

Many businesses, large and small, may offer benefits that go unnoticed. One of these unknown benefits encourages employees to give back to their community by participating in charitable fundraising activities.  In exchange, employers offer an “Employee Matching Gift” program to those employees.

Employee matching gifts (also known asmatching funds) are grants an employer makes to match its employees’ charitable contributions.

Unlike food and product sales, a fundraising event makes your participants and/or their parents eligible to receive Employee Matching Gifts.   We provide a template that can be downloaded, for registered users, that may help your participants and/or their parents to double their personal contributions. 

Employee matching gifts often are dollar-for-dollar, but some companies will give double or even triple the original donation. Some companies may also give matching gifts for an employees’ volunteer efforts or paid time off.

Procedures vary with each company. Typically, individuals must submit forms to their employers. They can usually get more information about their matching gift benefits from their human resources department.

Small companies that don’t already offer such a program, may be willing to match an employee that is participating in a fundraiser  Be sure to encourage your participants’ parents to ask about matching funds for your event.

Download our “Corporate Match Form” and include it with every take-home packet provided at the kickoff.  Include instructions for using the form and encourage parents to talk to their HR departments or small business owners about a matching program.

You can double personal contributions by encouraging your participants and their parents to inquire about Employee Matching Gifts where they work.  Another example of how our campaign management software and your event are far more profitable than food or product sales.