Like it or not, social media is a part of most people's lives—so it should also be part of your school parent group's fundraising plans.

Whatever type of fundraiser your parent group has next—a product sale, pledge drive, or big event—you can reach more potential supporters in less time through social media than other forms of communication.

Use our tips and tricks to coach school parents on the best ways to promote your next fundraiser on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—and watch those donations or sales add up!

The Basics

Share these general tips with school parents, and use them on your parent group’s posts, too.

Details, details. Create a general post using the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why. Then add an H: how, which is where you add the fundraiser URL or link to an online order form. Encourage parents to share this on their own social channels.

Share and share alike. Ask your followers to repost and share your photos and stories with their own networks. Follow as many parents as possible, and like and share their posts in return.

State the goal. Right up front, parents should share why their child is raising money. Trying to fund an enrichment program, new band uniforms, or a new playground? Encourage parents to tell followers what the goal is and then to post periodic updates about their child’s progress.

Hashtags make the message. Twitter created hashtags to help make keywords or topics easier to search, even for people not on social media. Many parent groups use their own original hashtags for all their events. Check Best Hashtags for inspiration. Search #schoolfundraiser to see what tags are most popular and most liked, and then share your favorites with school parents and ask them to tag their posts with them.

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Photos tell a story. For all three channels, include a colorful photo or fun video that personalizes the fundraiser. Show parents and friends what you’re selling, like those mouthwatering candy bars, or what the money will go toward, like the playground you want to build.

Share the fundraiser URL. Remind parents to include the link to their child’s fundraising page (and make sure it works!) every time they post about your fundraiser. A little context goes a long way, too, so along with the adorable kid photos, parents should include the school’s goal and progress updates.

Share across all social networks. Encourage parents to tweet your group page’s Facebook post, or share an Instagram story on their personal Facebook timeline. By sharing information across all their channels, parents help get more exposure with minimal effort.

Use the fundraising companies’ share tools. Many companies have tools on their websites to simplify the process of sharing student fundraising pages on social media. If the companies you’re using have product photos, sample posts, and other social share tools, tell parents where to find them.

Have fun with contests and giveaways. Get more people clicking on and commenting on your posts by asking a question and randomly selecting a winner from the respondents. Give away samples of the product to students who create funny sales vlogs. Offer a limo ride to school for the five kids who raise the most money. A little competition can be good for sales.

Consider apps that make posting easier. A social media management system will help you plan and post messages. Buffer is free for up to three social channels, while Hootsuite and SocialOomph offer free limited-time trials. You write as many posts as you want at one sitting and then use the app to schedule each post to your chosen profile. Parents can then repost or share information when they like.

Say thank-you. Thank donors, attendees, participants, sponsors, parents, and volunteers for their participation. Announce your fundraiser’s results and congratulate top earners and winners. And don’t forget to post later when the project’s underway or completed, or when the kids go on their field trip. 

Facebook Posts That Work

Keep parents in the loop. PTOs can use Facebook pages or groups to keep parents up on the details and timing of your fundraiser, like letting them know that catalogs are coming home so they can check backpacks or reminding them when order forms are due.

It’s all in the details. Put all the pertinent details such as the fundraiser goal, deadlines, times, URL, locations, and contacts in a post, and pin it to the top of your PTO's timeline where parents can easily find and share it to their own timelines. Encourage parents to include all these details in their own posts.

Get the whole family in on the fun. Grandparents love Facebook (at least lots of the ones we know!) and have networks of their own. Encourage parents to share their child’s fundraising efforts with the whole family.

Images get more likes and shares. Posts with good-quality photos get more attention than text-only posts. Videos draw more clicks than photos, and live videos get the highest engagement, with six times more interactions. If your fundraiser is an event like a fun run or a danceathon, post live video updates with clear instructions for how followers can donate.

Put kids on camera. Can anyone resist a video of a child showing off her dance skills for the upcoming flossathon? Nope. Suggest to parents that they make a short video of their child talking about their fundraiser (and that they double-check privacy settings before posting). Make sure the donation page link is prominent, as well as the deadline, both in the video and in comments.

Encourage parents to post status updates often but to not overdo it; once a day is fine. Ask them to mix reminders in with their regular posts to keep followers interested but not so annoyed that they unfollow. Suggest they use simple wording or numbers (“4 more days!”) with a colorful background in their updates, adding the online order URL there or in the comments.

Instagram Posts That Work

Stand out in the crowd. Since Instagram is so visual, advise parents to make good photos better by enhancing the colors or moods with Instagram filters (hint: The Mayfair filter prompts the most engagement).

Instagrammers love a quote. Building a playground? Use an app like Canva to create sharable quotes, and encourage parents to use them on their own posts.

Use a text overlay. Promote your event by adding a text overlay onto your photo. Just be careful not to obscure the photo with too much text. You can always add more information as a comment.

Use hashtags. Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags, but be selective. A good rule of thumb is to use between five and 10 hashtags per post. Place them in the comments where they’ll be noticeable but not distracting.

Write an inviting caption. Use a funny, entertaining, or call-to-action-type caption to describe an aspect of your fundraiser. Only the first three lines (or 125 characters) of the caption will display, so keep the most important key words near the beginning. Longer text will be denoted with “more” at the end of the third line.

“Link in bio.” Instagram doesn't allow users to include a link in the caption, so prompt parents to use the phrase “go to link in bio” to direct traffic to a URL where followers can pledge or buy.

Run a contest. Get more likes, comments, and shares by holding a contest. Post a photo of samples, ask parents to tag a friend in the comments, and then announce the winner. “Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Tag a friend in the comments for your chance to win!”

Use Instagram Stories. Create a countdown to your event or post a video of your fun run as a story, then add it to your story highlights where it’ll appear below your profile photo until you remove it. Instagram’s Boomerang app allows you to create GIFs that loop back and forth. If your group’s accounts are linked, an Instagram story can be shared to Facebook.

Tweets That Work

Tag it. Twitter created hashtags, but the company advises users to add no more than two hashtags per tweet. Give parents the “official” group hashtags for the fundraiser and encourage them to add their personal, creative tags (#child’s name) to appeal to their own audience.

Short, sweet, and immediate. Twitter limits each tweet to 280 characters. URLs, hashtags, emojis, and spaces all count as characters, so be brief and to the point. Twitter’s appeal is its immediacy, so use it to update followers on progress or your event as it’s happening with live tweets.

Lists and notifications. To help make sense of the millions of tweets that go out each second of every day, Twitter users create a follow list of people, companies, or groups they want to see at the top of their feed. Ask your school parents to add your group’s Twitter handle to their follow list so they’ll be notified anytime you tweet.

Retweets spread the love. Encourage followers to retweet your fundraiser posts. When they do, retweet their posts with a #thanks and any extra details.

Share a link. Twitter will shorten the URL for your child’s personalized fundraising page or posts from your group’s website, so go ahead and include it in your tweet.

Word of mouth takes on a whole new meaning now that anyone can share your PTO’s fundraiser details in a Facebook post, a Boomerang video, or an awesome photo with a clever Insta caption. While there’s still room for traditional flyers and posters for those folks who don’t love the internet, social media will help you and your school parents connect with a much broader and larger audience of potential donors than going door to door ever could.