An active fundraiser makes a great sponsored event, tapping into a wider pot of money, rallying communities and raising pulses as well as funds!
'Each year, our PTA runs a different outdoor family fundraiser, and last year was our first bikeathon. Two parents who have an office near the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) in Lymm suggested the event as the route is safe for children of all ages to cycle or scoot.
We made it a joint event with High Legh Pre-School, with parents working together to keep the strong ties we have between the schools. It also meant we could divide the planning into manageable tasks.
The TPT is open for anyone to use and no permit is required, but we liaised with the Sustrans Volunteer Rangers (the TPT's maintenance charity), who gave us valuable advice on positioning marshals and road warning signs. They also helped marshal the event and provided goodie bags and a certificate for all child participants.
We sold tickets on Eventbrite two months in advance, at £10 for adults and £6 for children. This included refreshments during the event and a meal afterwards.
We offered six route options, from 1km to 20km, with activities to keep children who did the shorter routes busy. We asked parents and grandparents to marshal the route, with sticker charts for the children so they could collect a golden star at each marshal station they passed.
One parent organised a cycle-themed raffle. Prizes were donated by local shops and included bike services, a child's bike, helmets and bike lights. In return, we displayed logos on leaflets and banners.
We encouraged all riders to seek their own sponsorship, and a parent set up an online sponsorship page, which allowed the local community to donate. Because the PTA and pre-school were very specific about what the funds would be used for, donors were happy to contribute.
The children loved the event. Older children enjoyed having the freedom to cycle with their friends, while parents said they were on their bikes for the first time in ages. The event was attended by 150 people, and it's inspired families to cycle more.
We raised £2,155, which was divided 50:50 between the PTA and the pre-school. The PTA has put our funds towards a MUGA, while the pre-school has bought a new event shelter for its outdoor play area.'
Emma Openshaw and Rebecca Booth, PTA co-chairs, High Legh Primary School, High Legh, Knutsford (155 pupils)
'For the past four years we've held our Denby Dash, where school families and the wider community run across bridleways and footpaths around our village.
Runners enter online, at £4.50 for the 3k run and £6.50 for the 10k. The run is held at the end of September and starts and ends at the school. We get permission from owners of the land we cross and notify the council about the event. We have 200-300 runners per year, and we promote the run by leafleting at local parks, putting up posters, advertising at school and through Facebook.
Lots of running groups come, and the 3k is popular with families. Some people bring dogs, who get a medal too!
We are fortunate to get lots of sponsorship. The Derby Runner supplies the signs and a blow-up arch for the finish line. The bibs are sponsored by estate agent Henrys Simms, Warburtons supplies the cobs, Buxton Water donates bottles of water and Ocado gives us a £50 voucher. Last year, each runner got a medal and a goody bag with vouchers, water and treats. It's a great way to raise money from people who aren't linked to the school, and we usually raise £1,200-£1,600. If you're thinking of holding a fun run, go for it. It's hard work but very rewarding. There are lots of sponsors out there, you just need to be a little cheeky and ask.'
Sarah Simms, committee member, Denby Free CofE School, Denby Village, Derbyshire (126 pupils)
'We organised a sponsored powershot challenge this year, with the money raised from the event going towards our new playground project. To do this, we issued sponsor forms to parents and the event was held as a fun day in school. It involved each child taking three shots at a football goal- we borrowed an integral radar from our local football club and recorded the speed of each shot. Every child who took part received an incentive prize, these ranged from a packet of World Cup Match Attax trading cards, a water bottle, mini football, to a full-size football, depending on how much they raised. All children received a certificate for taking part and a bottle of water donated from Northumbrian Water. The class who raised the most sponsorship received the 'Friends of Heddon School Top Fundraisers' trophy. Plus, every child went into a prize draw for the chance to win a signed Newcastle United shirt. It was a huge success, raising over £1,600, and we still have Gift Aid to claim on most of the money raised, which means we will definitely have met our target!'
Tara Wilson, PTA Chair, St Andrew's Heddon-on-the-Wall School, Newcastle upon Tyne (143 pupils):
'We arranged a sponsored triathlon event in collaboration with Smarden Primary School. There was cycling, swimming and a walk, which took place over three weekends. The schools worked together to plan appropriate routes through the local countryside, finding suitable alternatives for younger participants. The triathlon was very much a family event, and it was good to have parents and older siblings come along to show support for pupils. Many of the children achieved personal bests in terms of the distance they cycled, swam and walked – this sense of achievement really boosted their confidence. There was no charge for entry, and we raised £600 in sponsorship, which makes a big difference for a small village school. There is so much you can do to vary the event, by offering different sports, or perhaps combining it with a picnic or by turning it into a nature walk. It is something I would definitely recommend to other PTAs.'
Kelly-Ann Kaur, PTA member, Pluckley CofE Primary School, Kent (120 pupils)
'Cheltenham is world famous for The Festival, a four-day horse jump-racing festival, which inspired us to create our 'sponsored gallop' seven years ago. This annual event coincides with the festival and consists of an obstacle course on our school field. It is simple and cheap to set up, promotes exercise, and is huge fun for the children.
Preparations start one month before the event: we order stickers, buy refreshments, organise helpers, check equipment and get staff to complete a running order. Our only costs are £40 for squash, biscuits and stickers, as all the equipment belongs to the PE department.
To sponsor a child, supporters can complete a sponsorship form and post it in the PTA postbox with a cheque or cash, or they can donate online. We encourage people to add Gift Aid when they can.
The event is held on two separate mornings: one for infants and one for juniors. The obstacle course is made using hurdles, rope ladders and hula-hoops, plus a water jump (being splashed with water!). Each jump has been given a name inspired by the teachers, including Harford Hurdle, Price's Peak and Hobbs' Hedge.
Children come to school in their PE kit, and each year group has a half-hour slot, which includes a five-minute musical warm-up led by a PTA volunteer and a simple explanation of what to do. They then complete the gallop. Infants run five laps and juniors run as many laps as they can in 15 minutes. Afterwards, there is a ten-minute refreshment break and pupils are awarded a sticker and thanked for taking part. There are no winners – the emphasis is on enjoyment and taking part.
The event requires around eight to ten volunteers. As the event is held during the school day, the only way to see your child take part is to volunteer to help, so this really encourages uptake. In 2019 we made a staggering £1,725.94!'
Nathalie Dawson, PTA secretary, St James' CofE School, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (420 pupils)
Three Peaks Challenge
'Last year, a team of 27 walkers, including the Head and Deputy Head, set about completing the Three Peaks Challenge – to climb the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours. Our target was to raise £30,000 to refurbish and equip the school's new ICT suite. This event brought together our whole community. The children ran their own fundraising activities, including a T-shirt design competition, where the winning logo was printed by a local business. Each walker had a Just Giving page or cash donations could be sent to the school. The PTA is a registered charity, so Gift Aid could be recovered, and some of our donors sought match funding through their companies, which was a huge bonus. During the weekend of the walk, email bulletins gave updates of the team's progress which made everyone feel included. Many thought our target was over ambitious, but in the end we raised just over £38,000 – for a little school with 240 pupils this was a stunning achievement!'
Jane Broadis, PR officer, Christ Church CofE School, Chorleywood (240 pupils)
Fancy dress fun run
'We hold an annual fancy dress fun run at the local cricket club. The organisation is simple – we send out a sponsor form to parents and put copies in reception, giving details of the date and time. The whole school took part, from the youngest, Jonny Bailey, four, in his hand-knitted chain mail costume, to Sebastian Selby, 11, dressed as his favourite Spanish footballer. The run doesn't have a formal length – the children run laps of the cricket pitch – some ran seven, whilst some ran 19; teachers, TAs and PTA members have clipboards to record the laps. We split the children into eight groups of ten, with kids from each year in each group – this encourages everyone to help each other along, which is excellent for team building. It wasn't just any old ordinary race – some children ran backwards, some crawled or even danced Gangnam Style! All helped each other, so a great time was had by all, and everyone slept well that night! We usually raise around £500, which isn't bad for a school of 85 pupils! We gave a certificate to each child saying how many laps they had completed.'
Kathy Carter, PTA Treasurer, Easton Primary School, Woodbridge (85 pupils)