Assess your strategy

The benefits of holding events are far-reaching. Fundraising consultant Helen Alderson explains why they work so well for schools, and looks at how we can prepare for success in 2021

If you’re starting to think about what kind of events you might hold in 2021, take a step back to consider exactly what is achieved by holding events. Once you have that information, use it to make sure this year’s events are the right ones for you. Here are some things you might want to think about:

Why hold events?

Supporter engagement: Events are an excellent way to engage the community, contact supporters and build relationships. They offer a chance to re-engage with parents who have dropped off the radar while showing new families and members of the community what your PTA is up to.

Build positive experiences and increase awareness: A unique aspect of event fundraising is the hit of positivity when people come together, whether that’s virtually or face-to-face, to support your cause. Find ways to make the event a conversation topic in itself and you can increase your PTA’s profile at the same time.

Retain supporters: The more you can keep your current supporters, the easier your job is during the rest of the year.

Fundraising: Charities hold events to raise funds towards the success and continuation of their services.

When you’re trying to work out what to do this year, don’t underestimate the value of speaking with your supporters. Contact as many people as possible and show you are listening. Ask how they are and how coronavirus has affected them. Clearly communicate the effect the pandemic has had on school funds and on planned PTA fundraising. If you have ongoing commitments to wish list items such as subscription resources, explain why it’s important to continue to fund them and what school life will look like as a result. Give people the opportunity to ask how they can help – would they rather participate in a virtual event or make a one-off donation this year instead?

Which event is right for us now?

If you’ve held events since March, work out which ones were truly successful. What was popular and what made money? If you have any data, use it to inform you. Assess the benefits by asking yourself the following questions:

Did we get the number of participants we wanted? Was there a lot of interest at the start, but numbers dropped off when it came to people actually turning up? Why could that be? Would better promotion make the event stand out from the crowd?

Did the amount raised match our target? If not, what happened to create the shortfall?

Did we get good return on investment? Include volunteer time and effort in your calculation. Did an event’s preparation take up a lot of time, which could have been spent more productively another way?

Did we get good feedback from parents and the school? Did the event bring people together in a positive way? What was the chat about in the class groups?

If the answers are overwhelmingly positive, it’s the right event for you. If not, be brave. This is your chance to try something different.

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