Maybe nothing succeeds like success but everyone doesn’t always like it.
When the PTA at Poolesville Elementary School hired Boosterthon, an Atlanta-based professional fundraising organization, to use their expertise and turn a small fun run into a large fundraiser, the price of the organization caused some of the school’s parents to balk.
Boosterthon charged the PTA $2,000 up front and 48 percent of the total money raised for a nine-day program aimed at getting students to solicit pledges for laps to be run the last day of the program.
Even after those expenses, the PTA raised more than $20,000, PTA president Kevin Schramm said in an email.
“[It was] by far the most successful fundraiser ever at Poolesville Elementary School,” he wrote.
Wendy Stoliker, mother of a first-grader at the school, said she would not let her daughter participate and there were several other families she knew who would not take part in the fundraiser either. She felt the cost to Boosterthon was too high and she did not want her daughter to ask for money. She also thinks Schramm is too enthusiastic about the return.
“I think to say we made $22,000 is a little premature,” she said. “Now the kids have to collect the money from their pledges.”
Stoliker and others who took a stand against the program were in the minority, according to Schramm, who said they had a 71.9 percent participation rate among the school’s almost 400 students. That is the percentage of students who solicited pledges, he wrote, noting that all students were invited to participate in the actual run and all events leading up to it.
Brett Trapp, lead innovator from Boosterthon, said that in addition to the final run, students participate in a kick-off pep rally and daily character lessons and activities to keep their enthusiasm up and keep them thinking about getting pledges.
“All students participate even if they do not [get pledges],” he said. “Everyone gets a free T-shirt, a daily character sticker and does the final run. All parts of the program are totally inclusive.”
This year, he said, the program was called “The Road to Good Choices” and each day Boosterthon team members went into the classrooms for a three- to five-minute lesson on one of the values they need to make good choices: choose character, choose leadership, choose good attitude and choose fitness.
They also discussed who got pledges the night before and gave out small rewards and applauded those students, Stoliker said.
“My daughter felt pressure to be part of it,” she said. “We plan to make a one-time donation to the PTA. Then they will get all the money and not have to share it.”
Poolesville Principal Doug Robbins said he approved the program when the PTA decided on it and found it a positive experience for the school and the students though he was contacted by several parents who expressed concerns.
“I think in the end, there are reasons for and reasons against and if we were to do this in the future I welcome debate,” he said. “We only get better when we hear [the concerns].”
Schramm wrote that the PTA decided to go with Boosterthon because it was a good complement to The Mileage Club at the school, a volunteer program that encourages students to walk or run a set number of laps during recess.
“When we heard about Boosterthon, a fundraising program associated with physical activity, we thought it was a great fit,” he wrote.
Putting on fundraisers is very labor intensive, Schramm wrote, and until Boosterthon the school’s most successful fundraiser was a fall book fair that netted about $2,500.
“There is no way our usual dedicated team of volunteers could have successfully implemented a program as successful as Boosterthon,” he wrote.
The money from the Boosterthon program will be used to upgrade the school’s technology.
“Our first order is to purchase about $7,500 worth of Elmo brand Digital Visual Presenters[a modern version of overhead projectors]. Currently we have one per grade level. [With] this purchase we will be able to provide a Presenter for each classroom,” Schramm wrote. “This summer MCPS is planning to install wireless network in our school as well as outfit each classroom with Promethean Boards. Once that is complete the staff will access what technology would complement those upgrades provided by MCPS.”
Four other MCPS elementary schools have used Boosterthon to help with fundraising: Wayside in Potomac; Lakewood and Ritchie Park in Rockville; and Garrett Park.