Socially-distanced event ideas
Social distancing might mean you can't run some events,
but with a little creativity you can still raise money and have
For most PTAs, fundraising is pretty challenging right now. But
events can still go ahead - you just need to think a bit
differently. Once you've chosen the type of event you feel
comfortable running, read through our ideas and themes to create
the perfect experience for your supporters.
Climb a mountain: Challenge children to walk up
a nearby hill - or their own staircase - until they've climbed the
height of Snowdon, Ben Nevis or even Everest! You could even get
them to make a flag, which they can 'plant' at the summit. Award
prizes for the fastest climb and the best flag.
Run a marathon: Give parents an excuse to
get out of the house by inviting them to run a marathon within one
month individually. They can raise money for the school while
achieving a personal challenge.
Sponsored beard shave: Ask a hairy dad if
they would like to shave their beard to support your school or find
a supporter with long hair who's willing to cut it off.
School anniversary challenge: Take
inspiration from the 2.6 Challenge and ask supporters to think of
individual challenges based around the number of years your school
has been in existence - the more unusual the ideas, the better.
Seek inspiration from your local area, the diversity of your
community, and the interests of your supporters to come up with
Complete a trek: Whether it's Land's End
to John O'Groats, around the Equator or across the sea, the
distance everyone travels is pooled until the group has
collectively reached its goal. To increase involvement, invite
people to take part in whichever way they wish, be it run, walk,
cycle or skip.
Readathon: Readers are sponsored per page
(or book) over a week, fortnight or month. Make it more exciting by
creating a goal that's unique to your school. Could you
collectively read as many books as are in the school library or
read books that together equal the height of the school? Read For
My School (readformyschool.com) can help pupils keep
track of how they're getting on. Other sponsored events that can be
completed individually at home as part of a group challenge include
spellathons, and maths, dance or football challenges.
Run a relay: Run this class by class to
keep it manageable. Parents of runners will need to let you know
their address, or an alternative start point if they're not running
from home. Each child will run to their closest classmate's house,
where they will then 'pass the baton' by waving. Children who live
in another town can come and do a lap of a local park. Use a
planner such as MapMyRun or Google Maps to work out the route, and
a WhatsApp group on the day to let parents know when each runner is
on their way.
Track sporting success
For sporty fundraisers, participants can keep track of how far
they've travelled via apps like Strava, Fitbit and Google Fit. Ask
them to submit their achievements to you regularly so you can keep
supporters updated on how close you are to meeting targets.
Get everyone having fun at the same time from the comfort of
their own homes. When considering what you could run, take existing
events and break them down. How can you capture the different
elements online? How will you make a profit?
Afternoon tea: Parents order their food
online in advance, and it's delivered fresh to their home on the
day of the event. It can then be enjoyed together via a private
Zoom link. If there's a baker in your community, get them involved.
Add a bit of a tipple with a G & Tea.
Entertainment shows: All manner of
entertainers have taken their business online, including clowns,
magicians and scientists. Depending on pupil numbers, you can book
one bigger show or multiple shorter ones to suit different age
Balloon race: Eco-racing (ecoracing.co) runs virtual balloon races
using real weather data and geographical positions. Supporters each
buy a balloon, which they can then decorate and alter prior to
launch, before following it through its realistic flight path.
Workshops: Draw on the talents of your
local community to get everyone learning a new skill, or even
taking up a new hobby. One-off workshops could include everything
from baking and pottery to flower-arranging and pumpkin carving. If
you have enough interest, ask supporters to sign up for a series of
classes, such as salsa dancing or music lessons. If attendees need
certain materials to take part, provide them with a shopping list,
or include materials in the ticket price and deliver to their
Bingo: Ask players to print randomly
generated cards from a website such as onlinebingo.info. Use an app to generate the
numbers when calling. For a twist, how about music bingo? Instead
of numbers, email out cards with song titles. Play 15 seconds of
each song. Players tick off a song when they hear it, and the first
person to get a line or house wins.
Quiz: Create multiple rounds
incorporating pictures, songs and even riddles. Players keep track
of their answers and mark themselves at the end. If you're
concerned about cheating, offer a prize for something that's
difficult to Google, such as the number of sweets in a jar or a
teacher's favourite band.
Disco: Make a playlist of popular tunes to
play through your device to everyone in the call. Mute the kids so
they can hear the music and dance along while seeing their friends.
Ask everyone to wear bright colours and add some classic party
games for variety.
Art trail: Ask children to make art
around a theme, such as favourite authors or awesome autumn. It can
be anything that can be displayed in their window, from drawings to
sculptures. Produce a map for families to follow and share photos
on social media for anyone who can't visit the trail in person.
Wreath-making evening: Find a crafty parent or
professional florist who's willing to hold a virtual workshop. Send
out kits in advance.
Christmas tree sales: Link up with a local
Christmas tree seller, taking a percentage for the PTA in exchange
for securing sales.
Christmas hampers: If requesting donations,
make sure everyone is aware of the deadline and ask if items can be
left untouched in the school for a few days. Ask local companies to
donate in exchange for publicity. Collect items together in themed
hampers and use as raffle prizes.
While external access to the school and larger gatherings are
limited, face-to-face events may not be possible for a while yet.
Speak to the school about what they are comfortable with and what
might be possible. In time, you may be able to hold an event for
each bubble of children at your school or an outdoor family event
with marked out plots where each family or bubble can sit
To keep everyone safe, provide hand sanitiser and ensure toilets
are cleaned between uses. If it isn't possible to hold events at
the school, is there an alternative outside venue that you could
Charging for events
For some families, this is a difficult time financially. Set a
suggested donation for your event so people can give what they can,
and make it clear that financial hardship won't exclude anyone from
participating. Could a local business sponsor your event? If you
are selling tickets for events where circumstances may change,
write a clear policy demonstrating what will happen if the event is
postponed or cancelled.
Remind parents of the important role your PTA plays in the
school community. Funding gaps are more acute now than ever before,
and some parents may even be persuaded to give more as a
'We raised £867 with a virtual balloon race'
'A local hospice had been advertising a virtual balloon race,
and the idea seemed appealing to us. I decided to look into how it
worked, and discovered we could sign up to join the 'School's Out'
race with ecoracing.co without any risk or initial outlay.
However, we needn't have worried about lack of interest! In just
a few weeks, we sold 367 balloons - at £3 each - to people within
the school and local community, as well as to friends and family.
We let parents know about the race via a flyer sent out from the
school, then spread the word wider using social media, including
our own Facebook group and the local village Facebook page.
We also tried to encourage a bit of healthy competition within
families and workplaces to generate more sales.
We found that sending regular reminders to our supporters - via
text from the school and on social media - helped draw in more
participants, as did offering our own local prizes as well as the
Before lockdown, we had already started preparations for our
summer fair, so were able to use already-donated bottles to make up
a drinks hamper. We also used items from our 'gift amnesty'
collection box - something we use to collect donations all year
round - as other prizes.
Our supporters enjoyed watching the race launch online, and we
posted regular updates on which balloons were travelling the
furthest. One of our supporters' balloons came second overall, so
they won one of the national prizes from Ecoracing! It was a win
for them and a win for us, as we raised £867.'
Michelle Bebbington, chair, Friends of Hartford Manor,
Hartford, Cheshire (414 pupils)
'Our virtual gin-tasting night raised £700!'
'Instead of cancelling our PTA gin-tasting night, we decided to
hold it virtually. We posted a poll on our Facebook page to gauge
interest and decided to make up 50 boxes containing enough gin and
tonic for five drinks, plus snacks. We only included craft gins,
because we felt it needed to be brands people couldn't find locally
or in supermarkets.
I started researching the types of gin by asking questions on
some gin forums. I got chatting to a lot of people and secured some
impressive deals and help from distilleries, including a donation
of 50 miniatures. I'm a member of Craft Gin Club and was able to
take advantage of its offers too. I also referred some PTA members,
who each bought a box at an introductory price. The most we paid
for a bottle was £20.
We bought two bottles of each of our five chosen gins. Each 70cl
bottle contained 28 servings, so we decanted them into 25ml
measures using sterilised bottles purchased from Ampulla. I
contacted a tonic brand, which offered us a great deal, and we
ordered snacks from Snack Revolution and Candy Kittens. Each box
cost £10 to put together, and we paid £21 for a TEN. Participants paid £20 for
each box, and I left the boxes in my garage so people could collect
them on their daily walks.
We posted information about each drink on our Facebook page, and
the boxes included instructions on how to prepare each drink, plus
a reveal of each brand's name for after the tasting. Some people
got together in groups on Zoom, while others took part with their
partner. We raised £700 and still had a fantastic gin night!'
Kate Horrey, fundraising team co-chair, Katherine Semar
School, Saffron Walden, Essex (480 pupils)
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