Perfect planning 1: strategy
In the autumn 2015 issue of PTA+ Magazine,
Australian fundraising expert Mandy Weidmann explains how to agree
Strategic planning is an organisation's way of defining its
direction and deciding how to allocate resources to deliver its
strategy. It should outline:
- Why you are doing what you are doing - your purpose and
- How you are going to achieve it?
- Who is going to help you get there?
- What action you will need to take to achieve your goals?
- Which specific resources need to be made available?
Download a Fundraising Strategy Map
sample Fundraising Strategy Map
Developing your overarching strategy is best done with the
entire PTA team, Head and other stakeholders such as
Governors. A survey is a great first step, even if the
response is limited. A number of free online survey sites make it
easy to distribute questions, collect responses and collate
information. Seek input from staff and teachers, too. You can also
download the PTA+ parent questionnaire. Circulate an
agenda prior to any planning session to allow participants to
consider the items for discussion.
Your PTA needs a 'mission statement' which answers the question
'Why do we exist?' in one memorable sentence, that's concise,
active and positive. By having a clear understanding of why your
PTA does what it does, you can establish goals - the tangible
outcomes you hope to achieve through your fundraising
Goals should be SMART
Speak to the Head - identifying the school's focus areas will
help you prioritise your goals. Consult your governing document and
agree as a committee which resources your PTA will fund. These
- Capital (e.g. playground)
- Academic (e.g. library resources)
- Environmental (e.g. bird boxes)
- Cultural (e.g. theatre trips)
- Social (e.g. workshops)
- Sporting (e.g. equipment, kit).
Experienced committee members will undoubtedly have their own
expectations and opinions on what goals are achievable and
realistic. This input is useful, but can also be limiting. Use the
SMART model to test preconceived ideas:
- Specific. In consultation with the school,
outline exactly what you want to achieve.
- Measurable. Set the bar so that you know when
you have achieved your goal, and to give your team something to aim
- Attainable. A team needs stretching slightly,
but too much, and members will feel hopeless and demotivated.
- Realistic. Does your team have the time,
resources, skills and knowledge to achieve the goal?
- Timely. What is the timeframe? Some goals may
be long-term while others will be more immediate.
Establishing a target
Knowing what you want and why is one thing, knowing what it will
take to achieve it is another! You might have a whole series of
small goals or one super-sized objective. Research your fundraising
history in as much detail as possible. Knowing how much you have
raised in the past will provide a starting point for setting a
realistic target. Look at invoices, minutes of meetings, event
breakdowns with costs and profits, handover notes, etc. Once you
establish the cost of each goal, the value, all added up, becomes
You have a target, but how will you reach it? Consider your
income and outgoings. Examine your spending and investment history.
Not only will this help to determine your current goals and
targets, but information about past investments reminds your
support base of the added value your group has provided over the
years. Look at ways to increase revenue and reduce costs, such as
securing sponsorship or hiring out equipment, and buying
refreshments on a sale or return basis to reduce waste.
Assess your support base
Look at who you are reaching and who you should be reaching.
Your PTA needs a clear understanding of your current support base
and a plan to engage and optimise this, while recruiting a new and
wider audience for your events. Think outside the box - if your
existing supporters feel they are being 'hit on' too often, think
laterally about who else can engage with your PTA. Your
foot-soldier volunteers will be more motivated when they know what
part they are playing in achieving the end goal. When supporters
have confidence in your plan - and the capacity to carry it out -
they are more likely to support your fundraising and go the extra
mile to ensure its success.
Time for action!
Identifying your support base helps determine what you will do.
And there are so many different fundraising options to consider -
just look at pta.co.uk! Once you've identified what you want to do,
draw up a fundraising calendar, timed to maximise support, and
build-in a marketing schedule - your fundraising calendar is no use
if no-one knows about it!
Identify your resources
What and who is needed to realise your target? You need to have
the capacity to deliver, and for this you'll need people and
knowledge. 'People' refers to your workforce. This includes the
inner sanctum of your committee: critical leadership roles for
individual activities (such as fair coordinator), plus the many
hands that make light work - your volunteer army! Knowledge is the
other resource that must be considered. Do your volunteers have the
appropriate skills for the task? Most often they will rise to the
challenge with the skills they bring to the table, but consider the
value that training can add to them personally - and to your PTA.
Without a stringent system of record keeping, valuable knowledge is
likely to be lost, wasting time and impeding successful fundraising
Communication is key
Planned communication involves a dialogue with your community so
that everyone knows your key message - what you are about (your
purpose) and where you are heading (your goals). Communication
should be planned, strategic and clear, not haphazard, reactive or
last-minute. A well-executed plan will leave your support base in
no doubt of the value and benefit the PTA provides. If the
community understands and identifies with your goals, your requests
for support will have a context and will receive a more positive
response. The more people know, the more they will want to be
involved, and the more people involved, the more successful your
fundraising will be. If you're planning a particularly active
fundraising year, let everyone know in advance and explain why, so
that they can make allowances in their budgets as well as their
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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