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Spellathon is once-a-year PTA fundraiser during which students earn donations from friends or relatives by participating in a spelling test. While each teacher administers a spelling test in the classroom, the Spellathon team handles all other aspects of the fundraiser, from setting the timeline to collecting the checks.

Calendar of Responsibilities:

  • SPELLATHON GOALS: Find out how the PTA plans to use the funds raised. This gives the kids a specific goal to work towards and helps with the excitement.
  • PRIZES: Decide on prizes:
    • For individual participation.
    • For the class that achieved the highest percent of participation.
    • For the individual kids who got the most sponsors.
    • For the individual student who got the most out-of-state sponsors.
  • TEN WEEKS AHEAD: MEET WITH YOUR CO-CHAIR(S) - Divvy up duties, make a timeline.
    • Get on the agenda for a meeting at least SIX WEEKS before your Spellathon.
    • At the teachers meeting, give the teachers last year's SPELLING WORD LIST, and ask them to let you know of any changes that need to be made.
  • PREPARE BIG WHITE ENVELOPE: Get the text ready for printing.
  • SAMPLE EMAIL LETTER: We copied a sample email letter to send to friends and relatives onto the back of the spelling word lists to assist with communication.
  • KICKOFF FLIER: Marilyn allowed us one flier in backpack mail to kickoff our event.
  • BANNER & SIGNS: Hang the 2 big banners in the box somewhere in the front of the school. Use the PTA sign in the parking lot as well.


  • Two Weeks before Kick-off Week:
    • Submit Pink Section calendar item saying, "Spellathon is coming next week!"
  • Week before Kick-off Week:
    • Submit Pink Section calendar item and blurb.
    • Put packs of Spellathon envelopes and word lists in teachers' boxes (Fri.), or put in backpack mail, for Monday distribution.
    • Give teachers the sample prizes and notes.
    • Send home cover letter and flier to parents.
    • Have room parents into classrooms.
  • Kick-off Week:
    • On Monday of kick-off week, the envelopes and word lists go home with each child in backpack mail. A short Pink Section blurb accompanies this. (The previous week's Pink Section has prepared everyone.)
    • Put the banner up.
    • Kids study words & start collecting pledges from sponsors.
  • Spellathon Test Week:
    • Submit Pink Section calendar item and blurb for next week.
    • Kids continue to study words & collect pledges.
    • Teachers can give practice test early in week.
    • Teachers administer spelling test Friday. Teachers correct and mark.
  • Pledge Collection Weeks (two weeks):
    • Pink Section reiterates deadline.
    • Teachers should send home test results so kids can mark them on their envelopes & tell sponsors how they did.
    • Tell students and teachers about the SPELLATHON BOX in the volunteer office-then put one in there starting the Monday after the spelling test. Make it big enough and clearly marked (kid-decorated is good), with a slot for the envelopes. I know there's concern about money being in there, but there hasn't been a problem. I would empty the box often, though. Many folks still turn everything into Lyndia (the school secretary)-be sure to tell her and the rest of the office staff about the Box.
    • Submit Pink notice of extension (if any) for the last week.
    • Kids collect pledged money.
    • Kids bring in envelopes full of $ by Friday.
  • Wrap-up Week (counting the money, tallying, reporting & distributing prizes):
    • Gather all the envelopes and tally up the results. We used an Excel spreadsheet to do this. It was easy and worked well.
    • Publish a thank you and the winners in the Pink Section.
    • Distribute prizes: Bag prizes (individual) by teacher, and distribute to the classrooms at your convenience. We set a time for the ice cream parties with Marilyn Clark. Paradise Foods was very flexible and allowed us to pick up the ice cream right before this so we were able to deliver it without needing coolers or extra freezer space.

Helpful Tools & Tips:

Who should run this, and how many?
This fundraiser should be run by a team of at least three people. It is a short-term project with a definitive time line, which is nice so that the chairs can plan ahead. It works well to have someone who is good with figures, accounting, deadlines, etc.

We also suggest adding a third co-chair who could work on the marketing angle with the families and the teachers. We feel that to reach the teachers and children we would like to use the support of the head room parents. This year's Spellathon was very successful with very little work in this area. We feel that with getting more teacher and parent support this fundraiser could be even more successful.

The job of the new co-chair would be to coordinate the head room parents. These room parents would go into the classrooms before the Spellathon begins to hand out information, talk with the children, answer questions, help motivate and stir up excitement. This job should be added to the head room parent job description.

The third co-chair would also be the contact for the teachers and will go to a couple of faculty meetings (one in late fall, one right before the Spellathon) to inform and motivate the teachers. This year there were several teachers who only had a handful (like 4 or 5 out of 25) participants in their classes. It is very apparent which teachers are motivating their students. We would like to increase the student participation with help from the teachers. These funds go directly to improving the place they work.

We held the Spellathon at a different time this year (January instead of April). It appears to have been a better time of year, although it did overlap with the kick-off of Girl Scout cookie sales. However, they seem to interfere no matter what, pre-sales are in January, and public "post sales" are in mid March-April.

Prizes (bouncy balls/Spirit Wear/pizza party):
This year's prizes were a surprise to us. They were left over bouncy balls from another year. We did not think the kids were going to like them, however they were a HUGE hit. Not a huge hit with the teachers, though. The kids liked the Spirit Wear prizes the year before, but not nearly as much as the much less expensive balls!

We found prize overlaps, with the most sponsors per grade level/overall/etc. So we would like to slightly restructure the prize giving. However we should talk with the Board first, to decide if focus should be on number of sponsors only or if we can give some prize for amount of money as well. The pizza party for the largest percent of participation for a class worked well this year.