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Successful fundraisers for winter

Looking for successful fundraising ideas for the winter term? We chatted to five PTAs to hear their tried and tested events, complete with tips and advice!

Race Night

Anticipation was high for The Forest School PTA's inaugural race night! The DVD's were delivered, tickets sold and races sponsored. Races had been sponsored by local businesses and horses bought by hopeful owners before the night. The prizes of bottles of Champagne for the winning horse's owner beckoned from the stage and the Tote girls were awaiting their first punters! The first DVD was chosen at random by one of the race-going crowd, opened and bets were placed. The odds were shown on the overhead projector as the lights dimmed and the first race started. Lots of cries of 'Come on No 5!' accompanied the commentary as the horses surged forward. In a flash, the first race was over, the winning horse's owner had collected their prize and betting slips were cast away in despair or winnings collected in triumph! Losers drowned their sorrows at the bar and winners celebrated with bubbles. After another tight race a delicious, piping hot fish and chip supper (or veggie alternative) arrived from a local restaurant and a brief pause in the proceedings allowed a perusal of the race card to select the next race's winners. A raffle after another couple of races kept the crowd happy, especially those who had bought or bet on three-legged donkeys! Some clever plays on words were used on the horse names, especially from the PE department but the ownership of the horses in the last race was auctioned off on the night. Several tens of pounds were spent on a last ditch attempt to own a winner and gain a lovely bottle of Champagne. The final race saw lots of tense new owners and punters betting their shirts on the 'hot' favourites. A last drink for the road and the nominated drivers took their happy horse-owners home! A great evening's entertainment at a very reasonable price will see us repeating this fun event! Kathryn Sweetzer, PTA Chair, Forest School, Wokingham

Christmas at Hele's

Our Christmas shopping evening began 9 years ago and is held on the 2nd Tuesday in November in the evening from 7- 9.30pm to offer gift ideas before too much is already purchased! This event is held in the main hall. The tickets are £2.50 for adults, £1.50 for pupils (including a drink). Pupils are given a letter with a ticket request attached, asking for information such as number of tickets, preferred refreshments and a contact number (this helps distribute raffle prizes to those who have left before the draw). Each ticket is numbered which becomes their raffle number. This ticket is shown to have a free drink and admit entry - the corner is torn off once the drink has been taken. Last year we sold 137 tickets prior to the evening and another 40 on the night. The stallholders are charged £10 a table, plus a donation for the raffle. Last year we had students who were doing a Hospitality and Catering course, these students made cakes and refreshments then sold them on the evening, giving their profit to Friends. Year 11 students provide the music and back drops for ambience for the evening. Last year we had 23 stalls, ticket sales brought in £350, the stalls £212 and refreshments made £47. Minus expenses Christmas at Hele's made £594.98 last year. We start contacting the stallholders in July to give them plenty of notice. We also gained several new contacts through local fetes. We have contacted Oxfam who want to hold a Fairtrade stall; also the Hearing Dogs for the Deaf have shown an interest. My advice would be to provide an area for people to sit and have a chat as these people will stay longer and have plenty of refreshments for sale! Keep a look out all year for new stalls. Julie Felwick, PTA Chair, Friends of Hele's

Christmas Fair

We split our classrooms into games, arts and crafts, various product and gifts stalls, a Santa's grotto and a refreshments hall with tombola. We had really positive feedback from all who attended. We charged 50p entrance per person with children under 2 free. Parents displayed flyers in their cars, we distributed flyers to the tourist office, placed them on notice boards around the town and enlisted the support of the local radio station, local magazines and newspapers. We also publicized the event on our Facebook page and various free online websites. We charged £10 per stall although occasionally we made exceptions for charities and local not-for-profit organisations. The Christmas Fair made about £1,300. The most important thing is to have a lot of fun, in whatever event you are organising. We feel the success of our PTA is largely due to the friendships that have grown over the last 18 months since our children started primary school so a team approach and support is essential, there is no room for prima donnas.  You also have to take a 'we're not proud' approach and ask people for help. It feels strange at first asking for freebies and donations but once you get into the swing of it, the response can be overwhelming! The other essential aspect is in the planning and organisation, it needs to start well in advance and be well co-ordinated. When we first started, there was a temptation to replicate what the previous PTA had done but we changed events and their layouts and to really good effect.  We feel the purpose of our PTA is to enhance our children's experience at school but also to bring together parents and carers and to show the local community what a great place our school is and what fabulous talents our children can offer. Sherrie Harrison, Anney Catholic Primary School PTA, Seaford, East Sussex

Pamper and shopping evening

The Pamper and Shopping Evening is held each November from 7pm-9pm. We charge £5 for a ticket which includes a glass of wine/juice/tea or coffee on arrival. We have additional refreshments for sale with a selection of cupcakes on offer too. We also have some relaxing background music playing throughout the evening. I invite stallholders to cover a wide variety of both the pamper and shopping elements of the evening, picking up cards from visiting events and craft fairs over the year. I try to keep the people and businesses local to help promote the community. We only charge stall holders £10 per table, plus a prize for the raffle which they are always happy to do. We have around 35-40 stalls on offer, including things such as nail treatments, Indian head massage, manicures, pedicures, make-up, jewellery, cards, Christmas crafts, hand-made chocolates, pearls, clothing, homewares, books, photographers, floristry, candles, handbags, Tarot readings, celebration cakes, beauticians… this list goes on. Stalls offering treatments have a list on their stall with booking times on and it's on a first- come, first-served basis and you can book times for later on in the evening. When customers come to the evening, we give them a programme with details of the evening, a welcome note, what the money is being raised for and includes stallholder names and contact details as quite often we have all gone away from events and thought I wish I had bought this, or that, so it's a way for people to contact stall holders later on or to make further purchases etc. We provide refreshments for stallholders - if you keep them happy, then everyone's happy! We use a feedback sheet after the event for comments and notes for the following year while it is still fresh in our minds of any changes we want to make. Our event usually raises around £800 profit each year for just a few hours work which is a good return and is a very enjoyable and relaxed evening. Tracey Ferguson, Todcaster Grammar School Parents Association

Hampton LB

Christmas Calendar

Nearly everyone has a calendar, so we thought that this fundraising idea had great potential. The company we used was one that advertise in PTA+ Magazine - Hamptons.
We went to twelve of our local businesses who have ties to the school and sold them advertising space at the bottom of each page for £30 each, trying to offer them a date relevant to them - for example a florists in March for Mothering Sunday. We then enlisted the help of the school in providing a self-portrait for every child and member of staff in the school. Each month of the calendar would have a class allocated to it then the two final months were taken by the teachers and staff.  The front cover was our school logo along with a couple of pictures, one of our spiritual garden (which the HSA helped pay for) and the other our fun day. We also wanted to include every relevant date which is important to the school, so we compiled a list of all key dates, from term times and inset days to our own fundraising activities like the disco and our fun day. As a Catholic school it was also important for us to include parish fundraising events. Once all the documentation was in place and we were awaiting the delivery of the calendars we sent out an order form through every pupil, pricing the calendar at a very reasonable £4 each. The response was very positive and in total we raised £1,082. We were thrilled with the outcome, especially as this was our first attempt. We understand that due to the number of unsold calendars, the profit could have been much more, but we'll be able to gauge order numbers next year to order more efficiently. We have already been approached by potential advertisers for this year. Michael Wall, Holy Family Catholic School, Worksop

Christmas disco

Our disco was a very popular event held during school hours and was a great fundraiser for the school. We held one for Reception and KS1 and another for KS2, and the children donated £1 in exchange for wearing their own clothes to school. We have a very good relationship with a local catering firm who provided drinks and doughnuts, and these boosted our profits! We had one of our teachers play the role of DJ, and set up the disco lights by ourselves. There were also plenty of party games, and we used cones of sweets for prizes, which cost around £15. The event was promoted about two weeks beforehand with posters around school, a letter home and texts to parents. All class teachers helped run the event, organising party games appropriate to the age ranges and supervising the children. The PTA volunteers just needed to assist with handing out refreshments and general clearing up. The parties lasted for an hour each and were held on the same day in the afternoon, so children were collected from school at their normal time. We brought in a profit of £300 and we were delighted. It was very easy to organise with minimal fuss! Michelle Gerrard, PTA Chair, St Joseph's Primary School, Heywood, Lancashire

Infant story night

Our PTA tries to host a story night for the infants every half term. We promote the event at the beginning of the school year in our half termly school newsletters and an individual letter to parents. We also include all the details on the PTA page of our school's website. We ask teachers to remind the children in their class and invite all the infant children from Nursery to Year 2. Parents can stay with their children during the event if they want to. On the night, we tend to have around 130 children attend, with their parents and a number of older and younger siblings. Tickets were sold at £1 per child and adults were free, and the children were asked to come in their pyjamas and bring their favourite teddy. We had approximately 20 helpers on the night, who were a mixture of PTA members and school staff. We only had £30 outlay, which came as a result of buying milk, cookies, tea, coffee, sugar and disposable cups. All in all, we raised £133.30, and while it wasn't one of our most profitable events, it was definitely one of the most enjoyable and easiest to organise! Jen Eastwood, event organiser, Beaconside CofE Primary School, Cumbria

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