Perfect planning 2: brainstorming
In the winter 2015 issue of PTA+ Magazine,
Australian fundraising expert Mandy Weidmann shares her advice for
brainstorming ideas and mapping out a fundraising
Mapping out a plan enables you to identify the resources needed
and avoid potential clashes that could diminish results. You should
take into account:
- Your fundraising history
- Available resources
- Fundraising 'tools'
Your fundraising history
Dig out as much historical information as possible. If feedback
notes from previous events aren't available, hunt down information
- Previous fundraising coordinators
- Suppliers of your group's previous fundraising activities (your
Treasurer should be able to track down details)
- Previous meetings' minutes or treasurer's reports.
Consider the amount of effort required, return on investment,
potential for improvement and activities that build vital links
with the community.
If your group is new to fundraising you will need to rely a lot
more on guesswork, but record-keeping will provide groundwork for
future efforts. Find out what works for other local PTAs and ask
suppliers for rough estimates for a group of your type and
The resources you have at your disposal might include:
- Volunteers - the time, effort, and specific skills they can
- Community support and partnerships such as corporate
- Assets that can be leveraged, such as match
funding or equipment that can be borrowed from other
Ask if members' employers offer match
funding. Word of mouth can build strategic connections within
your community - get your committee to brainstorm potential
Consider how you can maximise use of assets and other
- Plan larger events if you have lots of volunteers
- Get a grant application prepared for a specific goal by a
volunteer who has experience of applying for funding
- Ask a graphic designer to create programmes for bigger events
such as fairs, into which you can sell advertising.
Your fundraising tools
Start with a mix of fundraising options and 'try and test' until
you have a suite of 'proven' fundraisers. Keep records so you know
what works for your group.
Fundraising tools to consider are:
- SPECIAL EVENTS: Fundraising events for adults,
like charity balls or quiz
nights, are great fun but are also wonderful community
builders. Events for children or families, such as discos or magic shows, tend to be well
- ORDER-FORM FUNDRAISING: Schemes such as Christmas cards, calendars or tea towels have no risk, but it's
important to get orders in on time.
- A-THONS: Sponsored activities challenge
participants to collect sponsorship for their efforts - including
spell-a-thons, fun runs and matchbox
challenges. These can be eligible for Gift Aid, potentially
adding an extra 25% to your total.
- GRANTS: If you don't have a volunteer to cover
this position, keep recruiting until you do, or get advice at funded.org.uk - a new site from the publishers
- DONATIONS: Voluntary contributions are important - if you
don't ask, you don't know what support is out there. If you send a
donation request out each year - to parents, community groups or
local businesses - include a 'tick box' option for those who would
like to donate but may not be able to do so at that time. You can
then send out a separate request at a later date.
- FAIRS: Fairs require a lot of planning and volunteers
over an extended period. Done well, they can bring in a great deal
- RAFFLES: Raffles are a lucrative
source of income and can range from a major draw for a substantial
prize to a smaller raffle.
- ONLINE FUNDRAISING: This kind of fundraising
requires very little effort. Shopping affiliate schemes reward your group
with a percentage of sales, each time your supporters shop
The first rule of brainstorming is: NO IDEA IS STUPID! Not every
idea will be achievable, but everybody needs to feel able to voice
their thoughts, otherwise you risk missing out on an absolute gem
of an idea.
Look through back issues of PTA+ Magazine for even more inspiration,
and consider your target market. Are you tapping up the same people
over and over? Can you engage support from outside your immediate
Now make it happen...
Having made it this far, you are ready to fill in the blanks for
your fundraising calendar! Circulate your plan - you may decide to
set up a consultation session with your volunteers to take note of
their input, or load a draft copy onto your website and invite
people to comment. Good luck!
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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