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Easy fundraising ideas

Raising money for your school isn't just about running big events - and, once set up, passive income streams will take care of themselves…

What is passive income? It may seem like an intimidating phrase, but it's actually very simple, and can make you lots of money with little effort. After a few initial steps, these schemes need hardly any maintenance, so pick the ones that work for you, sit back, and watch the money trickle in steadily throughout the year.

Shopping affiliates

With a shopping affiliate scheme, every time a parent makes an online purchase through a fundraising website, your PTA earns commission - typically 3-4% - at no cost to the parent or PTA. Two such websites are The Giving Machine and Give As You Live. These organisations work through affiliate marketing - in exchange for sending traffic to online stores, the store then pays them a commission.

Give As You Live is a fundraising platform that works with more than 4,200 online retailers. It recently launched a smartphone app to making fundraising even easier, and its grocery store card means you can even raise funds in-store when doing the weekly shop. Give As You Live passes 50% of its commission on to your chosen charity and keeps the other 50% as running costs.

The Giving Machine is a registered UK charity that works with more than 1,500 retailers. It gives users the opportunity to select up to four charities they wish to support, which means your parents don't have to choose the PTA over other causes closer to their heart. As a charity, The Giving Machine is able to collect Gift Aid on top of its commission, meaning the initial 50% your charity would receive is increased to 70% with Gift Aid.

Both websites have downloadable browser add-ons to remind users to activate their donations when they shop. Parents can buy from leading retailers such as Amazon, Tesco, Next and John Lewis, and even earn free donations when buying insurance or booking holidays.

There are no hidden charges for using these schemes, either to parents or your PTA, and all the product prices, offers, terms and delivery details are exactly the same as going straight to the individual websites. The only difference is that the children at your school will benefit from every purchase. So sign up to one (or all) of these schemes and be sure to promote it regularly. Send out reminders at key shopping times, such as sale periods and Black Friday, to ensure as many people as possible take advantage of this brilliant fundraising initiative. Ask the school to make its own online purchases through the platform, too.

Shopping affiliate step-by-step

  • Sign up to a shopping affiliate scheme that suits your school
  • Promote the scheme to parents
  • Parents sign up and select your PTA as their chosen charity
  • Parents access their desired website through the shopping affiliate scheme's website. They can install reminder toolbars to ensure they remember to activate the scheme before purchasing
  • Once a purchase is made, a percentage of the purchase is given to the PTA (typically paid quarterly).

AmazonSmile

Amazon operates its own cashback scheme in the form of AmazonSmile. This website allows customers to shop with the same products, prices and convenience as the standard Amazon website, with one key difference. When users make a purchase on AmazonSmile, 0.5% of that purchase, excluding VAT, returns and shipping, is donated to the customer's chosen charity. As a cornerstone of online shopping and a well-known name, it should be easy to get parents on board. 

Individual companies

Many individual companies, particularly those supplying school-related products, also offer a kickback to schools. Name labels companies including Easy2Name, Stamptastic and Stikins offer 20-30%, while Micro Scooters offers 10% back on purchases. It's always worth checking to see if any companies that are already popular with your parents provide this service. 

Tie it in to an event

It takes a bit more effort to generate passive income when tying it into an event, but as you will already be in contact with companies and stallholders, it should be only a little more effort for a lot more profit! It's also something that will become simpler with time as you establish regular partners who take out advertising with your event.

For the most impact, take advantage of all of the ideas below, and consider combining them into appealing packages for businesses.

Estate agent boards

Approach your local estate agent and negotiate a deal where members of the local community put boards up outside their property to advertise your event. Estate agents generally pay £20-£25 per board, which will be up for around three to four weeks. Send out letters in book bags asking parents to host boards. Some estate agents will set a limit on the number of boards, while others will offer a set price rather than an amount per board. 

Sponsored stalls

Offer local businesses the opportunity to advertise on a stall at your next event. Charge around £25 and get each company to provide their own advert. Laminate them and display them on a stall. Set a limit of one advert per stall to prevent it being overrun and give each advert good coverage. Try pairing sponsors with stalls, for example a sweet shop with the chocolate tombola, and a local pub with the bar. Share the previous fair's footfall with advertisers so that they can understand how many people might see their advert.

Fair programmes

If you're producing and delivering fair programmes anyway to promote your event, it's worth incorporating adverts to turn it into another money-making scheme. Offer local companies the opportunity to have an advert in your event programme. Charge around £60-£100 for a full-page advert, £30-£60 for a half page and £20-£25 for a quarter page. Let potential advertisers know how many copies there are going to be and how many people are likely to see the advert. And always remember to give plenty of details on your fantastic cause when contacting potential advertisers.

Match funding

Many companies will pledge a sum of money related to the amount an employee has raised. Some will match fund on a £ for £ basis, others will specify a maximum that they're prepared to give. Ask parents whether their employers offer match funding, explaining that it's an easy way to get free money for the school. Match funding applies to the money an individual raises, so be sure to place eligible volunteers on your most lucrative stalls at the fair!

Sponsor wall

Create a 'virtual sponsor wall' as a way for businesses to promote their links with the school while at the same time advertising their business. This wall will allow viewers to easily visit the websites of those included, making it an attractive prospect for advertisers.

As part of your school or PTA website, have a webpage where companies' logos are displayed. Hyperlink these to a page that tells the reader all about what the sponsor does for the school, and include a link to their website. This interim page gives parents a good impression of the sponsor and encourages them to use their goods or services. Charge businesses £100-£150 per year.

Other ideas

So many shops offer loyalty cards nowadays, so why not get one for your PTA? You would be surprised at how many people do not collect these points and they do add up. Some companies, such as Shell, will allow you to set up a card and leave it at your local garage. You can then promote this to parents, asking them to request that their points are added when they fill up. Supermarkets such as Sainsbury's and Tesco won't allow this, but you can request extra cards for people to borrow and use for big purchases. 

Another popular passive income scheme is a 100 club, which is a simple numbered lottery where numbers from 1 to 100 are sold to families at the cost of around £2 a month. The bought numbers are then entered into a monthly draw, with half the funds going to the PTA and the other half going to the winner. Payments can be made by monthly or annual Direct Debit for convenience. Depending on the size of your school, a 50 club or even a 200 club may be suitable.

Visit pta.co.uk/easy-earners for detailed guides to all these ideas and more simple fundraisers.


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