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Guide to online fundraising

Make it easy for your community to contribute to the PTA coffers, in the absence of your usual events.

With many events still on hold, you might want to think about offering new ways for your supporters to donate to your cause, and keep money flowing in over the next year. You may have already set up a regular giving system through the school office, but digital platforms provide an easy way for people to give - in many different ways - and you may find yourselves wondering why you didn't think of doing more of these before. Always be sensitive to your supporters' financial situations. For some communities, now is not the time to ask for financial support, but if you have supporters who can afford to help, here are a few ideas of how they can.

Online donations

Regular giving is the system whereby donations are made by your supporters at set intervals, often monthly. By using an online platform, you can avoid worrying about standing orders or direct debits, and Gift Aid is automatically collected. While it's ideal for some, regular giving is a commitment that might be challenging in the current climate. With one-off donations, donors can give as they wish without feeling tied down, and can give as much or as little as they're able. DonateMySchool (donatemyschool.com) and CAF Donate (cafonline.org/charities/caf-donate) are free of subscription or joining fees and allow for one-off or regular donations. Options with fees include Just Giving (justgiving.com) at £15 to £39 +VAT per month, and Localgiving (localgiving.org) at £80 +VAT per year.

Automatic donations

Roundups (roundups.org)

This app enables users to donate their virtual spare change to good causes. It works by rounding up all card payments to a whole number (to the nearest 10p, 50p or £1) and donating the pennies to a charity of the user's choice. Register as a good cause on its website to get started.

Lotteries

Your School Lottery (yourschoollottery.co.uk)

Tickets cost £1 per week, and 40% of sales go to the school or PTA. A winner is guaranteed in every school community each week, with the prize amount depending on how many players you have. All players are also entered into a national draw for the chance to win £25,000. Your School Lottery draws and contacts the winners - all you have to do is promote it to your supporters.

100 club

If you'd rather run your own lottery, how about a 100 Club? Each month, supporters pay a fixed subscription for a number between one and 100 - often £2 per month. Purchased numbers are entered into a monthly draw, with a percentage of the profits going to the winner and the remainder into PTA funds. Payments can be made monthly or annually either by direct debit or your PTA's online payment system.

Crowdfunding

If you're trying to raise a set amount for a specific project over a fixed period, crowdfunding might be right for your PTA. Platforms such as Crowdfunder (crowdfunder.co.uk) allow you to offer tiered rewards for different donation amounts. If possible, link the rewards to your fundraiser - for example, if you're aiming to purchase a 3D printer, offer the donor a printed item of their choice. Be wary of 'all or nothing' platforms where you have to meet your goal to get the funds. 

Online selling

Many people have used the extra time at home this year to have a clear out, but how can it benefit your PTA? Both you and your supporter base can participate in online selling to support your cause.

School uniform sale

A school uniform sale raises funds while providing a service to parents. Collect items safely, according to current measures; sort, wash and mend them and post images or a list online. Parents can pay online, with items delivered to their door.

Sell it for school (sellitforschool.org)

This site sells donations of second-hand books, clothing, toys and more on your cause's behalf. Donors send unwanted items to the company, which then arranges photographs, descriptions and prices to be uploaded to the chosen school's shop. Once sold, they post out the item and donate 100% of the profit back to the donor's chosen school.

eBay for Charity (charity.ebay.co.uk)

EBay's charity function allows users to donate a percentage of sales (from 10% to 100%) to a cause of their choice. To use the website, charities must register with the PayPal Giving Fund, which will collect the donation from the seller and also claim Gift Aid (if eligible). 

Vintage Giving (vintagegiving.com)

Send collections of up to 30kg of old or vintage items via Freepost to Vintage Giving, which will donate their value to a charity of your choice. Donations can be sent via post or a Parcelforce home collection. Accepted items include costume jewellery, gold and silver, cameras, pens and old currency.

Shopping affiliates

Shopping affiliate schemes are a great way to raise money from online purchases at no extra cost to you or the shopper. Every time a supporter makes an online purchase through the fundraising website with which you've registered, your PTA earns commission - typically 3-4%. Sites such as Give As You Live (giveasyoulive.com) and The Giving Machine (thegivingmachine.co.uk) offer downloadable browser add-ons and dedicated apps, which remind users to activate their donations when shopping. Ask the school if they can use your chosen platform when shopping too.

Individual businesses also offer affiliate programmes. Label companies such as Stamptastic (stamptastic.co.uk) and Stikins (stikins.co.uk) pay around 15-30% commission on any sales you generate. Check if any organisations that are popular with your parent community provide an affiliate service and register your PTA in order to start reaping rewards.

Online payment systems

There are lots of payment systems available, many of which offer charities and non-profits a discount on fees. Here are some of the more popular methods among our PTA+ community. There are no set-up fees, instead they each charge a nominal amount as a percentage per transaction. 

  • PayPal (paypal.com) offers non-profits a discounted rate of 1.4% +20p and allows donors to opt into Gift Aid on donations. 
  • Stripe (stripe.com) charges 1.2% +20p for charities.
  • DonatePal (donatepal.app) charges charities nothing, instead passing the cost of 2.9% + 25p onto the buyer. It's able to provide Gift Aid data, which you can then use to make claims.

Check individual websites for more details on which is the best fit for your PTA. Some payment systems can be used in conjunction with popular PTA ticketing and management platforms: Stripe and PayPal can be used with Classlist (classlist.com), while PTA Events (pta-events.co.uk) only supports Stripe. It's worth finding out if your school already has a payment system you can use, such as ParentPay or ParentMail's +Pay. But bear in mind that you'll probably have to go through the school office whenever you need to make changes or check figures.

Shout about it!

Online fundraising gives you potential access to a wide donor base, but it won't get you very far if no-one knows about it. Use your usual channels such as the school website, emails and newsletters to get through to your immediate school community. To reach out further, make use of social media - not just your own PTA page, but also pages and groups that cover your local area. Could a local news website promote your fundraisers?

Online schemes are all simple to join, and the majority offer a benefit to the donor, so get the message out as far as possible for the best chance of success. With ongoing fundraisers such as regular giving or 100 clubs, ensure the awareness is continuous. Plug things more at certain times of the year, such as shopping affiliate schemes in the run-up to Black Friday and Christmas.


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