If you are in charge of your Parent Teacher Organization's fundraising efforts, there's no doubt that you've looked high and low for a unique fundraising opportunity and unique prizes. It seems that when school is in session, there are so many fundraisers going around that it's hard to get enough participation, in many cases. That's why it's crucial to have incentives for the fundraising participants.

Since your organization is focused on schooling, a read-a-thon is a perfect way to raise money and get children to read. But don't just get them to read... drive them to read with NASCAR fan experience packages as the top prizes. Get your engines started; here are a few ideas to help your efforts cross the finish line of a successful fundraising campaign!

Line up the prizes and incentives

With the theme of race cars and driving your students to read, fan experience packages are a great incentive for the top prizes. There are a number of various opportunities to choose from, including being a passenger in a real race car as it's being driven by a real race car driving instructor. Very exciting! This can be the prize given to students in each grade or based on the various reading levels.

For the top prize overall, the student can also take a tour of the garage and work alongside a pit stop crew for the ultimate fan experience. Smaller prizes, such as checkered flags and t-shirts, can be given to the students who reach a predetermined pledge level.

Determine their reading levels

It's important to determine the reading level of each child before the campaign starts. That way, the younger students who are just starting to learn to read won't be at a huge disadvantage and they'll be able to choose the appropriate books for their reading levels. But more importantly, this will help you establish a baseline so teachers can compare the reading levels afterwards to see if any reading improvements were made. Your school's librarian and/or reading teacher can help create a list of books that are appropriate for the various reading levels of the children in your school.

Scheduling reading time & laps

The students can read at home and in school when teachers have extra time. Additionally, ask the Principal to set aside a 30-minute window each week during the fundraising campaign for students to get some reading done. Call these reading sessions Laps and number them. Also, host an evening reading session at the school on the last day of the campaign and have parents send in baked goods and juices to give the children fuel as they compete in the final lap of their read-a-thon.

Get pledges for reading

The students will choose books from their lists and ask their friends, family members, and neighbors for pledges. The pledges are agreements that donors will pay a certain amount for each book the student reads during the campaign, which can run a month, a quarter, a semester, or all year, depending on your fundraising needs.

Allow the donors to choose the amount they are willing to pay per book, which will allow people from various financial walks in life to participate. For example, a 1st grade reader selects 5 books and asks for pledges. An aunt pledges $20 per book and a neighbor pledges $5 per book, based on what they each can afford.

Of course, each pledge needs to be annotated on a sheet, complete with pledge amount, name, and contact information so the monies can be collected afterwards. If thinking about how to organize this type of fundraiser overwhelms you—don't worry. There are fundraising companies out there that already have everything set up.