The VCU-Marquette Challenge Toolkit

“I participate in the Challenge and support the Foundation because it is an effective way that I as a student can make a difference at a professional and societal level. Our profession is made more effective by research, and this contributes at all levels – not just in potential patients/referral sources/payors valuing the service we do, but also in that it allows us to make real change for the people we treat and serve. ” – Carrie Schmitz, SPT, Marquette University

Looking for ways to make sure your year is fun and successful? Use these Toolkit resources and check out some event inspiration. First year participating? Try some of the easier fundraisers to implement and start giving forward to the profession today!

Start Fundraising

Learn more about fundraising activities and events that can make your Challenge year a success.

The health and safety of our student fundraisers, our communities, and event attendees is of the greatest importance. Be sure to follow local guidance and regulations for safety. Many schools have held successful virtual fundraisers such as virtual 5ks and virtual lecture series.

To get started, identify a lead “Challenge Coordinator” and a team to help organize all fundraising events, materials, and promotions. Students are advised to consult with their program director/chair regarding student interest in supporting the Foundation.

The Foundation offers resources — including templates, tips and letters of support — and you can connect with other coordinators on the Marquette Challenge Facebook page.

From penny wars to continuing education courses, Marquette Challenge student fundraisers organize hundreds of events across the U.S. each year. Some examples of the creative fundraisers held in past years include the following:

  • Virginia Commonwealth University raised $1,389.95 by working with their local Chipotle to organize a night where a percent of sales benefited the Marquette Challenge. VCU also orders merch branded with Challenge and program logos for students and families to purchase.
  • Students at the University of Pittsburgh host a number of continuing education courses throughout the year.
  • University of Delaware hosts “UD Pie Time”, a fundraiser in which donations are made to a favorite director, professor, or clinician to see them get pied. The person with the most donations to their name was pied at a live event.
  • Mayo School of Health Sciences students organized a “Putts for PT” golf tournament, raising $4,000.
  • Drexel University truly got creative! Students created and sold their own art prints with proceeds benefiting the Challenge.
  • New York University and Washington University in St. Louis both organize 5 to 10K races to support the Challenge. In response to challenges related to COVID-19, Washington University hosted a virtual 5k that raised over $3,000. See how you can host your virtual 5k here.
  • The University of St. Augustine in Texas hosted a Mardi Gras themed crawfish boil.
  • Ithaca College hosted a virtual Kahoot Trivia Night for PT Research and tested their knowledge while having lots of fun.
  • MGHIHP hosts a Paint n’ Sip night in order to get creative to raise money for the Marquette Challenge.
  • LSU – Shreveport hosted their 2nd annual Kickin’ it for Research open to students, faculty, and alumni.
  • St. Louis University host their How Research Changes Lives speaker series examining the positive impact of PT Research.
  • The Ohio State University holds their TheraBall event, a Gala to support the Marquette Challenge.

Planning ahead for a full year of activities can help keep the Challenge interesting for students and provide plenty of time to promote events. Consider these month-by-month fundraisers as part of your fundraising calendar.

September Challenge
Host a back-to-school virtual cooking class or dining meetup to celebrate being back on campus with your favorite classmates, faculty and staff. See if you can invite a Foundation-funded researcher to speak about the work that was made possible with their grant, fellowship, or scholarship. Whether you order out or cook together, this event is sure to make the crowd happy.

October Challenge
Organize a virtual or outdoor workout class. It’s no secret that many physical therapist and physical therapist assistants chose the profession because they wanted to connect with people in a meaningful way. Organize a fitness event (such as a yoga class) led by students or local instructors.

November Challenge
Host a percentage night by reaching out to the manager of a local restaurant or chain to arrange a percentage of sales to benefit your Challenge fundraising efforts. Be ready to hand out flyers around campus and at the door! This is a quick and easy way to fundraise for the Challenge. Some chains that may hold fundraisers in your community for takeout or curbside include Chipotle, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, California Pizza Kitchen, Panera Bread, and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Winter Challenge
Hosting an event during these winter months can help you stay connected with your fellow student fundraisers and keep your momentum going. Consider a winter or holiday-themed event like caroling, or a virtual ugly sweater party in December and January. This is also a good time to promote merch sales while your friends and family are in a shopping mood.

February Challenge
Heat up the remaining weeks of winter with a competitive event. You could host a trivia night, cook-off, coin wars, a game night, a talent show, and more! There are several online gaming platforms that would support a virtual event. Make teams for a little friendly competition to spark some fire and raise some funds for the Challenge.

March Challenge
For the final monthly challenge, organize a bracket competition or sports tournament. You could arrange a bracket for a sporting event or a favorite reality TV show, or organize a virtual 5K.

The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research works with Just Giving, a crowdfunding site that you can personalize for your fundraiser or event. Click here for the toolkit that can help you get started. Questions? Contact us.

  1. Use the “submit your event” form on the Foundation event page to have your event added to the calendar. Be sure to include all the information needed — date, time, location, and registration links. The Foundation will share your event on social media and on our website.
  2. Promote your event on campus and in your community. Post flyers, ask professors to share announcements during class, reach out to your student media department, and share events on social media. For additional support with promotion, contact Foundation staff at
  3. Reach out to local press. You can also send out a media advisory. A media advisory is shorter than a press release. It provides basic details of your event and is perfect for sending to your local media vehicles, such as a community newspaper, local talk radio, or an online events calendar.
  4. Use your networks. Be sure to share the details of your fun Challenge event with friends and family.

• The Marquette Challenge Toolkit is released to physical therapist and physical therapist assistant students and faculty
• Student coordinators selected and fundraising plan prepared

• Students solicit sponsors, develop promotional materials
• Recognize, thank, and invite sponsors to events

• Hold fall fundraising activities

• Wrap up fall fundraising, determine results, and mail initial donations to the Foundation.

• Confirm plans and connect with leaders and sponsors for spring fundraising

• Winter fundraising and promotion for events
2024 APTA Combined Sections Meeting, February 15-17, 2024: Connect with other students, Foundation-funded researchers and Foundation Trustees.

• Conduct spring fundraising activities
• Mail additional donations to Foundation.

• Wrap up fundraising activities. Click here for donation form.
• Send final donations to Foundation. The dealine to submit donations is April 23, 2024.

• Schools inform Foundation of names of students to represent school at the virtual Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR) Awards Ceremony.

*Please note: Challenge donations may be sent to the Foundation at any time throughout the year. It is not necessary to hold donations and send them all in April. The Foundation will track totals for each school and is happy to give your school an update on your total raised at any time during the year. All donations must be received by the deadline to count. If your donation will arrive late, please notify FPTR staff asap at

Challenge donations may be sent to the Foundation at any time throughout the year. It is not necessary to hold donations and send them all in April. Click here for donation form.

The Foundation does have a third-party fundraising policy. While the Foundation is the recipient of donations raised through third-party fundraising events, the Foundation does not host the events and is not responsible for costs associated with the events or for obtaining necessary permits, licenses, and insurance for required events. In naming the event or promotion, the Foundation can be listed as the beneficiary of an event. For example, organizers may not refer to the event as the Foundation Bowl-a-Thon; instead, the event could be promoted as the Bowl-a-Thon to benefit the Foundation. For the full text of the third-party fundraising policies, visit the Challenge FAQ’s page.

Additionally, regulations governing raffles and auctions vary from state to state. Please check with your State Attorney General’s office for local regulations.

Carrie Schmitz and Daniel Bendel are the 2023-2025 VCU-Marquette Challenge coordinators. Contact our coordinators or the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research at

Get Social

Spread the word about the VCU-Marquette Challenge!

  1. Plan ahead. Set your goal and make a timeline.
  2. Use social media to reach out through posts and direct messages.
  3. Ask for a set donation amount to help you reach your goal, or, if you aren’t ready to start asking for donations directly, start by talking about your participation until you feel more confident.
  4. Talk about the value of what you’re doing and why it’s important to you.
  5. Follow up – thank your donors and let them know when you’ve reached your goals.

This year, I’m part of a team that is taking part in the VCU-Marquette Challenge. I’m writing to you today because I need help reaching my goal.

The VCU-Marquette Challenge is a grassroots, student-led fundraising effort that raises money for the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research – the only national nonprofit solely dedicated to funding physical therapy research and new researchers. Research helps improve the physical therapy profession and show the value of physical therapy services.

I’m participating in the VCU-Marquette Challenge because I care about the future of the profession and the patients whose lives are made better by physical therapy. Every donation makes it possible to fund scholarships, fellowships, and research grants. We’re investing in the future of physical therapy!

Please help me reach my goal with a $20 gift. Visit to make a donation. Don’t forget to select my school so that we’ll receive credit for the gift!

Thank you for your support.


[your name]

Thank you so much for making a contribution towards my goal for the VCU-Marquette Challenge. It really means a lot to me that you stepped up to support the future of the physical therapy profession.

The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research’s next steps will be to apply your gift towards finding the best qualified researchers and support their work. To learn more about the impact your donation has, visit

Thank you again!

Kind regards,

[your name]

My school is taking part in the 2022-2023 VCU-Marquette Challenge! Each year, hundreds of physical therapy and physical therapy assistant students hold events across the U.S. to invest in our future profession. Donations will go to the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research – the only national nonprofit solely dedicated to supporting physical therapy research and new researchers. Help me reach my goal at

Every donation for @Challenge4pt – big or small – makes it possible to fund @Foundation4PT scholarships, fellowships and research grants. Help me reach my VCU-Marquette Challenge goal at

Since 1989, the Marquette Challenge has raised more than $4.8 million for #physicaltherapy research. This year I’m making my contribution by raising money for @Challenge4PT. Show your support at

I’m taking the Challenge.

Each year, hundreds of physical therapists (PT) and physical therapist assistant (PTA) students, with the support of their program directors and community, hold fundraisers across the U.S. Through this grassroots, student-led effort, more than $4.6 million dollars have been raised for the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research – the only national nonprofit solely dedicated to supporting physical therapy research and new researchers.

When students participate in the VCU-Marquette Challenge they make an investment that strengthens their future profession. Every donation, big or small, makes it possible to fund scholarships, fellowships, and research grants.

The Foundation’s unique focus is physical therapy research. Using a grant and scholarship review process modeled after the National Institutes of Health, applicants are reviewed by a volunteer scientific review committee. Through this process, the Foundation identifies the best qualified applicants who go on to enrich the physical therapy profession with evidence and validate the value of physical therapy services.

Many of today’s leading physical therapy researchers, clinicians, and academicians began their careers with support from the Foundation.

This work is important to me because I know physical therapy helps create a more mobile future for many people in need and I know research is an investment in this profession.

You can help by making a donation at


Use Just Giving, a crowdfunding site that you can personalize for your fundraiser or event. Click here for the toolkit that can help you get started.