Sponsored a-thons are relatively easy to organise, and don’t require too many resources. The PTA provides a fun theme to get everyone excited, and your supporters collect the money for you. With many options – from a sporty or arty challenge, to something more quirky, there’s an idea to suit every school.
Get pupils invested in the challenge by promoting the element of healthy competition, and bring parents and teachers on board by tying your fundraiser into the curriculum. Because sponsored events are so flexible, they can usually be adapted if circumstances suddenly change.
The possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas to get your started. It’s always worth asking pupils for suggestions to prompt creative thinking and get them excited about the project.
- Art-a-thon: Pupils can draw, paint, sculpt, knit – any medium they choose – something over a set period. Choose a theme to keep it focused, and invite pupils to create multiple things in the time, or a single, more extensive, project.
- Collect-a-thon: Hand out craft matchboxes to children and challenge them to fill a box with as many different objects as they can find. Ask pupils to write a numbered list of the items to submit alongside, to tie into literacy skills. Pupils can submit a photograph if they can’t bring in the actual boxes.
- Sing-a-thon: Get as many people as you can to sing a chosen song in one day – either on their own, or in small groups. Or try a non-stop sing, allocating time slots, so at least one person is singing for a whole 12-hour period.
- Read-a-thon: Make the activity accessible by encouraging children to read in a way that suits them, whether independently or aloud. Pupils are sponsored for either the number of minutes/hours they read for, or the number of books they read over a set amount of time.
- Spell-a-thon: Ask each teacher to prepare a spelling test for their class. Children practise the words and seek sponsorship for every correct word.
- Word-a-thon: Ask the children to find as many words as they can within your school name. See how many words the whole school can discover! Give prizes for the most words, longest word, most unusual word and best anagram.
- Bounce-a-thon: Use bouncing equipment such as pogo sticks, space hoppers, bouncy castles and trampolines. Otherwise, get participants to jump, hop or star jump in a set amount of time.
- Bike-a-thon: Whether it’s on balance bikes, tricycles, scooters or a classic bicycle, challenge participants to cycle as far as they can in a set time. Even those with stationary bikes can get involved.
- Dance-a-thon: Try to keep the dancing going for 12 hours, with at least one person dancing at all times. Families can film videos and send them in to be uploaded on your PTA social media channel, with a compilation video made at the end.
- Gallop-a-thon: Encourage families to set up their own obstacle course, with children being sponsored to ‘gallop’ around it! Encourage creativity – can they create a water jump with a paddling pool, or maybe hurdles? Keep safety in mind. Award prizes for the best courses.
- Keepy-uppy-a-thon: Get children burning off energy seeing how many football ‘keepy-uppys’ then can do in a set amount of time.
- Score-a-thon: Participants have to try to score as many times as possible in whatever activity they choose. It may be football goals, basketball hoops, or throwing bean bags into a bucket.
- Walk-a-thon/run-a-thon: A sponsored walk or run is a fantastic way to promote exercise and can be done anywhere. Try laps of the garden, circuits around the park, or hiking up and down the stairs.
- Care-a-thon: Encourage pupils to fundraise by aiding others. It could be helping a sibling with their homework, weeding the garden, volunteering, or making a gift. Let the children come up with ideas of how they can make people happier.
- Pick-a-thon: Not as rude as it sounds – encourage families to go out and pick up litter in their local area. It’s a great way to get donations from the public too, as they will also benefit. Ensure health and safety guidelines are followed.
- Give-up-a-thon: Ask your pupils (and their families) to give up something they love for a month. It might be sweet treats, their games console, or even leaving lights on! Alternatively, they could take something up, such as eating an extra portion of fruit, drinking more water, or helping others.
- Nature-a-thon: Sponsor pupils to explore outdoors. They could take bark rubbings from lots of different trees, draw all the flowers they can find, or count the birds in an open space. Or how about a camp-a-thon where participants pledge to camp out overnight in the garden?
- Quiz-a-thon: Challenge participants to answer as many questions correctly as they can in a set period. It could be something specific and curriculum-linked, such as times tables, or a pop quiz covering a range of topics.
- Silence-a-thon: Homeschooling parents may be thankful for this one! Fifteen minutes is enough for younger children, but secondary school pupils should manage a whole day. If children are in school, provide paper so they can still communicate with their teachers and each other.
- Decide on your a-thon
What will work well in your school? Consider the age of pupils and whether adults will also be getting involved. Who will set the goals – you or the participants? Will they be sponsored per mile or per minute, or for the whole thing?
- Set a date
How long will your event run for? Suit the duration to the type of fundraiser and your audience. If it’s giving up chocolate, a month might be ideal, but it wouldn’t work so well for a sponsored silence!
- Start planning the event
How will it work? Will you need any volunteers? Complete a risk assessment, if required. If you plan to award certificates or medals, seek donations to cover the cost. Decide how you will collect the funds – can participants take cash do the school office or should they pay through an online platform?
- Encourage participation and sponsorship
Publicise your event in the local press and on social media. Explain what you’re doing, how participants can enter and why you need the funds. If you’re a registered charity, you can claim Gift Aid on sponsored events. Download an editable sponsor form here.
- Hold your fundraiser
Continue to publicise it on social media and any other channels to keep up the momentum.
- Collect sponsorship money
Chase up participants if you need to. Hand out any awards, medals or certificates to the winners. Thank everyone for their hard work and don’t forget to thank your PTA volunteers too.
Tips for a-thon success
- Make it clear what you are asking pupils to do, and the ways in which they can participate.
- Always set a clear deadline by which pupils need to return their entries.
- Encourage competition by offering prizes, including awards for the most sponsorship money raised and the most sponsors, plus specific awards depending on the challenge.
- Adapt the event according to the activity and the age of your pupils.
- Avoid handling cash by collecting donations through an online platform. Options include Give as you Live, Donate and JustGiving. Each platform offers different fees and features.
- Claim Gift Aid to raise an extra 25p for every £1 donated. Many online platforms can take care of this for you.
- Say why you’re raising money. People will be more willing to donate if they know the impact their donation will have.