Big project fundraising
Schools are increasingly turning to PTAs to fund big
purchases for the school, but when you're asked to raise thousands
of pounds, where do you begin?
Fundraising for a 'big' project could mean raising anything from
£5,000 to £50,000 or more. With a target that's considerably larger
than what you're used to, you need to think differently, using a
carefully planned approach. For a bigger project, you'll rarely get
all the money you need from a single source. There are many
different options available so think about which will work best for
- Crowdfunding invites a number of supporters to each contribute
a small amount in return for a reward.
- Grants involve applying to a funder for a large sum.
- Sponsorship means approaching businesses with requests to
sponsor elements of your project, often in a mutually beneficial
- Fundraising events make for a fun and visual way to fundraise
and bring together a captive audience.
- Passive income keeps funds topped up in the background.
You know that you're fundraising for a trim trail or a new
library, but how much do you need? Check with the school: who's
going to get quotes, and how will the process of finding a supplier
work? If the PTA is in charge, make sure there's a good line of
communication with the school at every stage of the process.
Start by looking up information on suppliers' websites and in
brochures to get a broad idea of costs and what's available. Then
pick up the phone to discuss your specific needs. Most suppliers
will adjust existing products or can recommend the best solutions
for your circumstances, often by surveying your site. Get quotes
for the work and equipment to obtain your fundraising goal.
It takes time to raise a large amount of money, so consult with
the school and suppliers to set a realistic deadline. Ensure it's
short enough for initial donors to benefit from the project. Plan
your fundraising strategy alongside your PTA calendar, anticipating
how much everything might raise using totals from previous events
and activities. This will help you to establish how much extra
fundraising is needed to meet your goal.
Establish a start date for the project. Can work commence once
you've raised some, but not all, of the money? Not only will this
mean supporters can see their money being used, but it will
reignite interest and be a visual way to promote it, helping to
draw in more sponsors. You do need to be sure you'll reach your
goal, as half-finished projects will be frustrating for everyone
Big money means exploring lots of fundraising avenues that tap
into a wide range of supporters, ensuring no single group is being
exhausted. Survey your parents, governors and the wider community
to see what they would be willing to support. Events and passive
fundraising schemes are a large element of PTA fundraising, but
running too many can overwhelm supporters. Crowdfunding works well
in schools that are able to ask parents for contributions, but if
you can't rely on families, a grant may be the best route. Think
about different ways your supporters could help. Perhaps a parent
runs a company that would gladly sponsor part of your project, or
they can get match funding from their employer.
As you establish what will work well and what you will run,
assign each activity its own target and make sure the total adds up
to your overall fundraising goal. Plan for what you will do if you
raise more or less than your target, and make these plans clear in
your publicity. Set up sub-committees for each activity to spread
There are a number of grant schemes for which schools and PTAs
are eligible. These range from grant-givers with a specific
interest, such as the Ernest Cook Trust (focused on outdoor
learning), through to general funds like the National Lottery
Awards for All.
Some grants run nationally, while others are regionally
specific. Most schemes state the maximum amount they will fund and
may have set criteria, such as the project needing to make a
difference to the whole community. FundEd members can search the
school-specific grants database at funded.org.uk.
Compiling grant applications often takes longer than you think,
so check deadlines and work backwards, allowing plenty of time to
gather supporting documents, write detailed budgets and seek
evidence from supporters.
Crowdfunding can be hugely successful but is often
misunderstood. Although it's relatively quick and easy to set up a
project online through a platform such as DonateMySchool, it's not simply a matter of
doing it and waiting for the money to come in. You need to be able
to push your project through as many channels as you can to reach
lots of potential sponsors, as it's reliant on getting a large
number of small donations. Drive it on social media, through emails
and newsletters, and get local media involved. As schools sit at
the heart of the community, you are well placed to tap into the
generosity of the people around you.
Investigate which local businesses operate CSR (corporate social
responsibility) schemes. When approaching businesses, speak to the
decision-maker and offer three different options with varying
levels of commitment; they'll be more likely to pick one than say
no altogether. Once established, develop ongoing partnerships by
keeping sponsors updated on how their work has helped the school
and thanking them both personally and publicly. If they can see
it's mutually beneficial, they'll be more likely to continue
Local community groups, for example Rotary Clubs and Lions
International, often raise funds to give back to local projects.
The amounts and criteria vary from club to club, but it's always
worth asking - especially if your new project will benefit the
Events can take a lot more time, effort and manpower compared to
crowdfunding or grants, but they're a great way to raise awareness
of a project and bring supporters together. If an outdoor area
needs renovation, highlight the space in need of development by
hosting a car boot sale or a campover. If it's your school hall,
hold a quiz night or a barn dance. Popular sponsored events include
a run, a bounce or a read-a-thon, and Gift Aid can be claimed to
boost profits. Ask parents whether their employers offer match
funding - many companies will pledge a sum related to the amount an
employee has raised.
Passive fundraisers can run in the background of your project
and keep money flowing in. Shopping affiliate and recycling schemes
are a great way for parents to raise funds without spending money,
while a 100 club means parents pay a set amount each month for the
chance to win half the profits. These are easily administered by
one person and are a low-effort way to keep funds coming in. If you
don't have them set up already, implement some that suit your
school, and if you do, be sure to promote them regularly.
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