ALA Student Chapter at Clarion University Raises Travel Funds with Literary Photo Scavenger Hunt

A poster describing ALA Student Chapter at Clarion University Literary Photo Scavenger Hunt

Tired of the drab, uninspiring sales of T-shirts and coffee tumblers to raise funds for your ALA student chapter? Yes, we at Clarion University were too! Let me share with you how holding a literary photo scavenger hunt helped us raise funds for our annual spring trip to Washington, D.C., and not be bored!

Faced with offering another boring fundraiser for our ALA student chapter at Clarion University, we decided to do something that would appeal to our entire member base, many of whom are distance students. We landed on the idea of a literary photo scavenger hunt. Our rules were simple. For $10, and the chance to win a Kindle, participants would receive a list of literary-themed items and have a set amount of time to find and photograph the items, each worth a different amount of points. At the end of the scavenger hunt, participants would compile and email their photo albums for judging. The person with the most points would be declared the winner. Additionally, we held a daily bonus round on Facebook, where a challenge was set and participants had 24 hours to find and photograph the item, posting their photo to our chapter’s Facebook page for additional points.

The result was a really fun event that had a great visual element to it. For the duration of the fundraiser, we had a steady stream of hilarious photos posted to our wall, which students seemed to enjoy and comment on. During the sign-up phase and over the course of the fundraiser, not only did we raise funds for our spring trip, we saw an increase in membership requests, Facebook page likes, and overall engagement online.

Our scavenger hunt had a total of 45 items. Easy-to-find items were worth 1 point (red A, conch shell), slightly harder-to-find ones were worth 2 points (room 237, glass animal figurine), and the ones that we thought required the most effort to find were worth 3 points (blue Mustang convertible, billboard with eyeglasses on it). Participants had to photograph themselves with the item to prove it was an original find, and there were limits on “creating” an item.

The Facebook challenges were fantastic, with people really getting into the spirit of it. One day the challenge was to post something that Boo Radley had left as a gift for Scout and Jem. There was the expected assortment of crayons, pennies, and gum, but one person actually carved two figures from soap! For the main scavenger hunt, a different participant said she drove 30 miles to photograph real Jersey cows.

Overall, as you might gather from watching our scavenger hunt video announcing the winner, this was a great activity that could easily be adjusted to work for another ALA Student Chapter or for a library and its patrons. There could me more items added from children’s books, the hunt could be done entirely through a library’s website or Facebook page, it could be done in a single day, or based around an event. We’re happy to offer our hunt’s templates as a starting point for anyone interested in organizing a similar literary photo scavenger hunt.

For links to our literary photo scavenger hunt templates, visit ALA Student Chapter Fundraising Activities, which just so happens to feature our scavenger hunt as the first example of fundraising activities by ALA Student Chapters!

More about our video . . . I'm sad I had to change the music, but I ran into royalty issues with the first song (Kinks, "People Take Pictures of Each Other"—so perfect!).

If your ALA Student Chapter would like to submit a fundraising activity to post along with ours, please contact Don Wood, ALA Chapter Relations Office. If you have any questions about the scavenger hunt, please contact me.

Elizabeth Kellermeyer
A 2014 Student to Staff participant
Clarion University