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summer camp crowdfunding

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – summer camps are awesome.


They provide exercise, community, learning opportunities, personal growth, and plenty of reason to be out of the summer camphouse and off those addicting devices! But, not all kids can afford to attend camp. And, many summer programs lack the funding to provide the opportunities and/or facilities to host the kinds of camps they want.


Which is where crowdfunding comes in! The interaction afforded through this mode of fundraising has been successful for summer camps.


In 2015, Reel Works raised enough funds to send students on a trip to Paris to learn about filmmaking; Wishbone was able to send 400 low-income high school students to summer programs across the country; and Camp Thunderbird in South Dakota raised enough to keep their programming up and running for children from the nearby reservations (Matthews, 2015).


Crowdfunding works. It works for our clients during the school year and it can work for your summer camp. Here is some advice to get you started:


Take it Online

You want to be where your donors are – and that’s online. Having a successful crowdfunding fundraiser means using an online service to host, promote, track and bring in those donations!

While anyone can start a GoFundMe campaign, it’s important to keep in mind the other technology tools you have at your disposal. Here are the ones we recommend utilizing to get the most out of your fundraiser:

  • Social Media Tools: These can range from hashtags (e.g., #SummerCampRaiseUp) to share buttons (like those we have on our Student Fundraising Pages) to Facebook & Twitter posts that people can easily share on their own news feeds.
  • Communication Tools: Create content that is easily shareable. You can do this by creating a promotional video, sending out an informative mailer or email, posting the fundraising steps on social media, or publishing them on your website.
  • Promotional Goods: Equip people with tangible and digital “goods” that they can display to show their association with your camp/program. These could be material, like t-shirts and pins, or web-based, like a Facebook cover photo you encourage people to use during your fundraiser.
  • Incentive: Give your people incentives for fundraising on your behalf, whether that be experiences (such as free rock climbing or horseback riding at your camp) or recognition on social media or material prizes.
  • Community: Offer your people a sense of community by hosting group events, re-tweeting and posting their pictures or videos of involvement, & by allowing your fundraiser to grow relationally (i.e., encouraging people to share/challenge/promote the fundraiser to friends & family, not the entire world at once).

Contact Alums

The same way that school alums are the top providers for university donations, your camp alums are key people to donate to your program. They already know how great it is and will want for it to continue so other kids and families can experience the fun! Send personal letters, have your director contact specific families that were really involved, or even host an alumni night and bring families back for a special night dedicated to reliving camp days and donating so the program can continue into the future.

Communicate Your Purpose

"If you want your checkbook to follow your heart, make a donation to those doing work you support." - Donna Brazile

A huge part of fundraising is based on relationships: The relationship between your organization and those you’re supporting, the relationship between donor and receiver, and, especially, the relationship between your organization and your donors. 

If your donors are deeply involved with the mission of your organization and the progress of your fundraiser, then they are much more likely to give often and give big.

Think about it: there is a big difference between giving and buying. Recall the last time you donated to an organization, gave out spare change to a homeless person or took a bag of old clothes to the Salvation Army. Now, think of all the things you bought on your last trip to the grocery store. Which had a bigger impact on you? Which would you encourage your friends and family to do with you? 

A great way to get donations for your summer camp is to tell your story through your fundraiser. 

Utilize the Athon Format

Not sure if you know this, but we kind of like athons. 

Athons are uniquely suited for raising money online and, as big crowdfunding campaigns (remember the ALS bucket challenge?) and our last few seasons of athons go to show, when the two come together there is major money to be made for schools and summer camps.

Athons are awesome because they can be crafted to fit your program. You can host a Fun Run, volunteer-athon, hike-a-thon, bonfire-a-thon (that would be a new one)! 

  • Choose specific projects that will be funded by you’re athon (i.e., sending kids to camp)
  • Set realistic goals
  • Use an outside service to provide the online component 
  • Keep parents, kids, and donors in the loop – let them know when smaller milestones are achieved and what rewards are available when these goals are reached
  • Have fun! Add flair and energy to you’re athon fundraiser, whether it’s a fun run, dance-athon, fit-athon, or serve-athon!


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