Playground equipment has long been top of the list when it comes to PTA spending. So how do you raise the money? Our guide breaks down the best fundraising strategies out there.
First things first – what are you hoping to achieve? Renovating your existing equipment or adding a few new pieces is quite a different fundraising prospect to a full architectural playground build. This will dictate your target amount, timeframe and funding strategy.
Depending on the amount you plan to spend, you may have to go through a procurement tendering process, inviting several companies to submit a proposal. Schools within a MAT need to make additional checks in respect of thresholds. For guidance, go to gov.uk/guidance/buying-for-schools.
Look beyond the information on playground suppliers' websites or brochures – pick up the phone and discuss your plans. Most suppliers will adjust existing products, or can recommend the best solutions for the specific needs of your pupils, or the learning benefits you want to achieve. Many will want to survey your site to prepare a solution that complements your existing landscape and features.
Obtain quotes for the work and/or equipment. Once you know how much you need to raise, we recommend breaking this down into a variety of different fundraising activities. Explore options that require input from different stakeholders and appeal to different pools of potential donors – this has the dual benefit of spreading the workload and reducing the pressure on parents' purses. Give each individual activity its own target that adds up to your overall fundraising goal. Consider what you will do if you exceed your target or fall short – make these plans clear in all of your promotional material.
Look at the options
All schools are different – what works for one doesn't always work for another – and fundraising amounts can vary hugely. Survey your stakeholders, asking what events they would support or what specific skills your parents, governors, and wider community are able to offer.
You could raise: £500-£10,000
There are a number of grant schemes available, for which school playground projects are eligible. These range from grant-givers with a specific interest in outdoor learning, such as Ernest Cook Trust, through to general funds like Awards For All.
There are also regional funding schemes available, or those that aim to address a particular need, eg, supporting families in deprived areas. Most schemes state the maximum amount they will fund, and may have other criteria that will make your application more or less likely to succeed. FundEd members can search the grants database at funded.org.uk, improve their chances of success by reading examples of previously-funded school projects and get expert guidance from school bid-writing guru, Rachel Gordon.
Grant applications generally take longer than you think to compile, so check any deadlines and work backwards allowing plenty of time to gather supporting documentation, compile detailed budgets, seek evidence from stakeholders, etc.
You could raise: £2,000-£8,000
Crowdfunding enables you to promote your project to a wide audience and collect online payments. Unlike a grant, where you ask one funder to give a large amount, crowdfunding invites a large number of supporters to each contribute a small amount.
As schools sit at the heart of the community, you are well placed to tap into the generosity of all those with a vested interest in seeing your school thrive. As well as straightforward online pledges, you could also contact people directly with requests for sponsorship. Investigate which local businesses operate Corporate Social Responsibility schemes. Others, such as estate agents, do well if your school is helping drive up local house prices! And consider after-school clubs that use your school's facilities.
You could raise: £150-£3,000
While profits from any of your regular fundraising events can contribute, it makes perfect sense to reinforce the message that you're raising funds for a playground (or outdoor project), by organising related activities.
You could raise: £50-£1,500
Football scratch cards – are cheap to buy and offer a quick turnaround. Each card has 20 to 80 football teams listed. Friends, family and neighbours pay £1 to write their name and phone number against their chosen team. Completed cards and money are then returned. The silver panel is scratched off to reveal the winning team, and 50% of the money collected from each card is returned to the student to pass on to their winner. If 100 families take part, on cards with 30 teams, you raise £1,500!
Tip: Local community groups, such as 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 space will benefit the wider community.
The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.