5 Prize Ideas for a Virtual Summer Reading Program

Masthead Waves

At the beginning of April, we hosted a Beanstack User Group Town Hall Meeting to discuss Summer Reading 2020 in light of COVID-19. Thanks to the 600+ librarians and staff members that joined us to discuss how to forge ahead in these uncertain times.


There were lots of great insights shared during the Town Hall Meeting and we’ve selected a few of them to share, in hopes that they might be helpful as you’re planning for Summer Reading 2020.


In our Town Hall, many librarians shared ideas for how to manage prizes for a virtual Summer Reading Program. Some of these ideas work for a completely virtual summer, whereas some might be more appropriate if the library re-opens later in the summer.


1. Virtual gift cards — You can send gift cards to many stores using only an email address (💡 Kimberly R.)! It could also be great to give gift cards to local businesses that might be struggling due to social distancing; try reaching out and seeing if they offer gift cards you can purchase as prizes.

2. Skip small prizes — Instead of coordinating many small prizes, allow participants to enter a drawing for fewer, larger prizes (💡 Kimberly W.). You can use the Drawing feature in Beanstack to allow users to compete for specific prizes. Or if you don’t have Beanstack, you can draw winners from among your most engaged participants.

3. Redeem later — Some librarians have shared that they’ve already purchased small giveaway items for Summer Reading. If you’re in this position, consider assigning virtual “tokens” to participants that they can bring into the branch to redeem a prize at a later date (💡 Samantha R.). Beanstack makes it easy to do this — you can add a certificate or redemption code for users once they earn a badge.

4. Food Delivery — One innovative librarian (💡 Natalie H.) using Beanstack suggested food delivery as a prize. This idea could also be accomplished with a gift card (think Uber Eats), but even better if you can support a locally owned restaurant with this prize option.

5. Pay it forward — Consider opting out of individual prizes in favor of a “Pay it Forward” Prize (💡 Dana R.). Participants can read and have their minutes go toward earning money for the cause of your choice. Or inspire more engagement by allowing community members to vote on the cause of their choice!


Do you have ideas to share? Tweet us @ZoobeanReads with #SummerReading2020 and keep the conversation going.

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