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16 “Athon” Fundraisers To Try

Go beyond the typical school fun run fundraiser with one of these ideas to raise money and school spirit.

by Terri Frank


Many schools run all kinds of successful -athons, from fun runs and walkathons to readathons and mathathons. And if you’re looking to go beyond your everyday school fun run fundraiser, we’ve rounded up these wacky and fun -athon ideas to help make your next pledge fundraiser your most profitable. No matter what kind of -athon you can think up, an -athon platform provider can help you raise more cash with much less work (check out this handy list of popular -athon service providers). Spread the word online and stop chasing down pledge forms and checks. Your #ptolife just got a lot easier!



How about holding an all-night chess tournament? Just when everyone starts to doze off, liven things up with a life-size game! Each player wears a headband with a sign saying what “piece” they’re playing as. Students can invite friends, parents, or relatives using your -athon platform's email share function. Check and mate!



Have your budding volleyball players see how many serves they can make over the net—while blindfolded! Individual student pledge pages make it simple for people to sponsor a player with a flat or per-serve donation.

Random Acts of Kindness-athon


Helping friends and strangers is the goal, whether it’s baking cookies for a neighbor or building a buddy bench. You can decide whether pledges are per cookie, per neighbor, or per anything else you can think of.

Raise money and build school spirit with the ultimate fun run planning guide



Do your soccer players aspire to David Beckham’s mad foot skills on the pitch? Challenge young strikers to improve their juggling—with knees and feet, natch—while supporting a worthwhile cause (new nets for a hurricane-damaged school in Puerto Rico, for instance). The whole team can set personal and team juggling goals and have some fun trying to meet (or beat) them. 



Test kids’ (and parents!) spelling and pronunciation skills with a twist on the tried-and-true spelling bee. Plan a students and parents spellathon and prepare a word list for kids to study. Then surprise the grown-ups on the day of the event by giving them words from the National Spelling Bee list. Can you spell S‑U‑C‑C‑E‑S‑S?



Nothing says good, clean fun like getting dirty for an important cause. Share a park or playground cleanup project on your social channels to ask for donations and recruit more volunteers. 



Plan an event with a holiday theme, like a Thanksgiving morning Turkey Liftathon! Adults do some serious lifting while kids do a “turkey press” (Cornish game hens attached to a PVC pipe). Make it simple by asking all those relations staying at your house to sponsor and pay online via credit card or PayPal. You have a feast to cook—you don’t have time to mess with pledge forms and checks.



Who’s cooler on the slopes, skiers or boarders? Let your future Olympic downhillers slalom and slide their way toward a fundraising goal. While you’re sipping hot chocolate in the lodge, your platform provider can tally up the runs (or the laps around the school parking lot) and take care of the reporting for you.


How many times can you do this popular dance move before your hips get tangled with your arms? Find a few willing students and teachers to do it on camera, and post short video clips to Facebook to promote your cause and encourage even more family and friends to donate online.


Melanie Lemahieu/123RF

Follow these steps for a successful danceathon: Choose a theme, schedule the school gym, start publicizing early, enlist a lot of volunteers (because 24 hours is a loooooong time), find a DJ or volunteer with a variety of music, line up lots of food and drinks, and schedule breaks. Don’t forget to sign up the principal for dance lessons!



Every July, this quirky online book group creates a week of challenges like “let a coin toss decide your first read,” “read and watch a book to movie adaptation,” and “read a book with green on the cover.” There’s nothing parents need to set up—your kids can complete all the challenges and share titles (and video book reports?) on their personal pages.


We all know how important play is to a child’s development, but who has time, right? Take a Chance card and host an imaginative gameathon. 



Basketball free throws, clay pot throws, javelin throws, judo throws, knit throw blankets—you name it, you can -athon it. 



Give kids a problem to solve—like, oh, maybe how to protect sensitive bare feet while walking across a floor strewn with Legos—and let them get to work! Share photos of all the inventions on social media and your sponsors might even start investing.



If you’ve ever said “There should be an app for that,” a hackathon event might be right for you. It’s similar to a designathon, but this is creative coding problem-solving in a fun group setting. Likeminded donors can even pledge support from their mobile devices.



Turn your school’s students into holiday food elves to benefit your local food pantry. Dress up in cute hats and collect canned goods and other nonperishables for the community. Parents, neighbors, and friends across the country can pledge a certain amount per can and help brighten someone’s holiday.


Main image photo credit: Deagreez/Thinkstock

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