Harper Collins

Perfect planning 4: the handover

In the summer 2016 issue of PTA+ Magazine, Australian fundraising expert Mandy Weidmann reveals the benefits of evaluating your events.

To avoid a total vacuum when a key individual leaves, all successful PTAs need a documented handover manual in place. Without wash-up notes, so much energy and time will need to go into reinventing the wheel next year - before the event organisers can even begin to raise money and make a difference.

Ideally, your entire team will be committed to putting together handover notes. At the very least, if you have one person who is passionate about making certain that knowledge is not lost, then task that person with gathering feedback for all activities.

Skilling up

When it comes to tasks that require particular skills, volunteers may (because of their training or work background) come 'readymade'. Others learn on the job. The knack of matching a task to a volunteer's skill set is a happy challenge.

Consider sending key volunteers on courses to achieve certificates in First Aid or Food Safety and Hygiene. When key people leave, new volunteers are often reluctant to take on their workload. By outlining what has been done in the past, people can simply choose to follow it rather than having to come up with a whole new plan themselves.

Make time!

Handover records are an intrinsic part of good and successful fundraising. Not only do they save time in terms of learning the ropes, they will let you know how much stock to order next time, where to buy it from and how many volunteers are needed.

Once a handover is done the first time, your committee will have a blueprint that can be used for every event in the future. By following some simple tips, every successive handover will be seamless.

Tying up loose ends

Until all the money is collected, unsold stock returned, expenses reimbursed, and invoices paid, you have neither an accurate profit figure nor accurate wash-up notes. Ensure that results are shared with your community and sponsors. This effectively closes the loop. The 'feel good' resulting from an initiative's success is invaluable for encouraging supporters, sponsors, and volunteers to look forward to the next event.

Going for goal

The most obvious measure of success in fundraising is whether you achieve your financial target. If not, you need to determine how you could have done better.

  • Were the timelines realistic?
  • Were they followed?
  • Did everyone understand their roles?
  • Were they able to fulfill their roles?
  • Could anything have been organised differently?
  • Could time and effort have been used more effectively?
  • Was the goal set too high?
  • Was the goal based on possible, rather than probable, profit?
  • Was communcation as good as it could have been?

An attainable goal can be calcuated based on the size of your school, the number of volunteers you have and the success of previous fundraisers. Some things, however, are out of our control - even the best-planned summer fair can be devastated by bad weather, for example.

What could we have done better?

Get your core group of volunteers together to work through the event - start at the beginning and go right through to the clean-up. Often, the wrap-up provides fresh ideas that can be used in the future. Questions for your team to consider include:

  • Did everyone get the message?
  • Who didn't participate and why?
  • Did the prizes make a difference to uptake?
  • Who were our champions (eg, helpers, supporters or sponsors)? How can we encourage more of this?
  • How much/what would we order next time? What was left over or what items sold out quickly? Can leftovers be stored/returned?
  • Could we have attracted more sponsorship or donations?
  • Would we use the same suppliers again and if not, why not?

As part of your analysis, track participation rates. If most of those taking part were from KS1, consider how to motivate and engage older pupils next time.

Seek opinions

If you have scrutinised the results and feel that response was poor, step back and consider whether the event or its price may have been the issue. Consider asking parents for feedback via a survey - a free online survey tool such as Survey Monkey can make this simple.

Ask 'What could we do differently next year?' and, 'Was the quality of products good and the price satisfactory?'. Consider offering supporters an incentive by putting completed forms into a prize draw. Aim to get a sponsor to donate a prize for this.

Seek opinions from the Headteacher and any businesses that provided donations. At the very least, send them an email sharing the preliminary results and asking for suggestions on how things could be done differently. Can teachers seek and compile a feedback form from pupils on behalf of the PTA?

Putting it on paper

Make sure your wash-up report includes every ounce of information that someone running it for the first time might need:

  • Contact names, phone numbers, and email addresses of suppliers, sponsors and volunteers
  • Equipment required, stock and disposable items needed
  • Quantities of supplies you used or would recommend
  • Sale prices, costs, profits and any recommended changes to pricing in the future
  • Successes and failures - both are equally important!

And finally...

Now that you've written your wash- up document, you need to store it safely so that future organisers can benefit from it. The report needs to be presented in a meeting and lodged in the minutes.

Your hard work needs to be kept for future coordinators, therefore any supporting documentation also needs to be passed on, including:

  • Newsletter content
  • Order forms/invoices
  • Sponsorship requests/letters
  • Media releases and press contacts
  • Spreadsheets
  • Thank you letter templates.

Maintain a folder that is kept in a central location, ideally within the school, or sign up to a storage facility such as Google Docs or Dropbox. The key to 'cloud' or web storage
is to make certain that the right people have appropriate access and file-saving protocols. Used properly, web storage is a fabulous option for retaining and sharing information.

Are you ready to do it all over again? The difference is that next time you'll have the benefit of experience, plenty of knowledge and helpful hints. Go crazy with your ideas; be inventive, creative, and above all, evolve, improve and enjoy your fundraising events!

About our expert

Mandy Weidmann is the fundraising coordinator at her children's school, so understands fully the everyday challenges and triumphs of working with other volunteers to raise funds for a good cause. As a small business owner she knows how important it is to have a great plan in place! Mandy is author of The Practical Fundraising Handbook and publisher of the Australian Fundraising Directory, as well as being a qualified lawyer and mother of five children - she knows all about managing chaos!

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