Fundraising success stories

Read how six PTAs ran fantastic fundraisers

‘Our book shop fundraiser had a fairy-tale ending’

Once upon a time, there was a primary school where the children loved to read. One day, their parents in the PTA decided to organise a pre-loved book shop for them.

The idea of a book shop fundraiser was born after a conversation with a group of fellow parents. We admitted that, although delighted by our children’s bookworm tendencies, it was expensive to provide enough books to keep up with them. As a PTA, we wanted to encourage this love of reading while helping parents with the cost and raising funds for the school. Inspired by our school’s beloved owl mascot, we named our shop The Owl Bookshop, which pleased the children no end.

Dedicated PTA volunteer Vicky Lay took the lead on The Owl Bookshop, working with fellow members Allie Buckley and Clare Barton. They devised a plan where every family was asked to contribute five pre-loved books to the shop. We sorted them by reading age onto appropriately named stalls: the easiest reads were on the ‘Owlet’ stall, the next level was for ‘Fledglings’, and the most advanced were for ‘Owls’. Entering the school hall on the day, I was greeted by piles of exciting books of all kinds.

Every book cost £1. When the children paid, they received more than conventional change. For fun, we had chocolate coins and dairy-free alternatives to give away too. While the younger children excitedly accepted, some of the older ones were more savvy and asked how much we were charging for the chocolate.

While I waited for the takings to be counted, I looked around the hall: some children were sat reading, already hooked by their new finds; I overheard a group planning to share a series so they could all have a turn; some children had even purchased books for their siblings! At last, the suspense was over. We had raised £330 to put towards a new climbing wall in the playground – the happy ending I had hoped for.

Claire Summerfield, chair, Harwell School Association, Harwell, Oxfordshire (230 pupils)

‘We raised £2,000 in two weeks with a pop-up charity shop’

There were a few empty shops in our town centre, and I thought we might rent one as a pop-up charity shop for the PTA. I asked around, and a landlord agreed to rent us his shop for just £50 a week. The place had been lots of things over the years, including a hairdresser’s, an estate agent’s and an antique shop, but no one had lasted long – it was known as the shop of doom!

I borrowed clothes rails from the leisure centre and bookshelves from a local land agent. We put the word out on our Facebook page and the school newsletter, asking for donations of clothes, books, toys and bric-a-brac, as well as volunteers to run the shop. Loads of stuff came in. Some of it was pretty hideous, but some was amazing – including a pool table that went for over £100. We didn’t price anything. We just said give us what you think it’s worth, so some people threw quite a lot of money in.

We ran the shop from Monday to Saturday for two weeks, opening at 9.30am and closing at 4pm, with a rota of 12 people. On the last day, we sold off everything that was left for 20p an item.

The whole town supported the shop, and we made over £2,000 in just a fortnight. Raising this much so quickly meant we could relax our fundraising efforts for a while afterwards, which we appreciated!

Sian Pugh, chair, Rhayader CIW Primary School PTFA, Wales (240 pupils)

‘More than 300 people walked our scarecrow trail’

We held our first scarecrow trail during the pandemic, asking families to make a scarecrow of a character from their favourite children’s book or Disney film and display it outside their house. People bought a map from us with all the houses numbered on it, and over a weekend they had to walk the route and write down who they thought the characters were. At the end, the answers went into a draw, and the winners won prizes.

The trail has now become an annual event that we hold every April, and this year was our most successful yet, with 300 people joining in. We got 22 households to make scarecrows, and we raised nearly £900. I think it was partly the theme, which was Julia Donaldson’s books; it inspired people to get incredibly creative, and some of them really went to town. One family made a 7ft tall Stick Man and another had the witch from Room on the Broom sitting on their balcony. At my house, we chose The Scarecrow’s Wedding and made the characters out of papier mâché. It’s a lovely way of getting kids and parents to do arts and crafts together.

These days, we have a digital version of the map that people can buy through an app, but we also have paper versions available for those who prefer that, and we sell them for £3. We try to get as much publicity as possible so that lots of people sign up. The local paper supports us, and this year we got a slot on our local BBC radio station. We also make flyers and distribute them around the town. Next year, we’re planning to get a banner made as well, and I’m challenging myself to get 30 families making scarecrows.

Marie-Anne Amos, co-chair, Bowerhill PTA, Wiltshire (406 pupils)

‘Julia Donaldson and Emma Thompson joined our secret postcard auction’

The inspiration for our secret postcard auction came from seeing how big charities auction off artwork by famous artists and thinking, why don’t we have a go?

I compiled a list of celebrities and wrote to them via their agents, sending each one a postcard and a stamped addressed envelope and asking them to create something for us with their signature on the back. Many people did not respond, but some did, including Julia Donaldson, Emma Thompson, Rob Brydon, children’s author Sue Hendra and illustrator Adam Stower.

We wanted the project to be inclusive, so we invited all the pupils, parents, the local community and lots of local professional artists to create their own postcard-sized works of art too. We held an exhibition of all the artworks at our school and asked the public and our local newspaper to attend. Everyone got a quiz sheet to use while looking around and trying to guess which postcards were by famous people.

Julia Donaldson made a beautiful Room on the Broom picture with a footnote apologising to Axel Scheffler, which fooled many people because they thought it must have been there to throw them off the scent. Guests also argued over a picture of a pig by Emma Thompson because she had signed it on the front and they couldn’t decide if the signature was genuine. She also kindly sent us a drawing of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda, which my son bid on, thinking it was a Pokémon character.

After the exhibition, we opened an online auction using jumblebee, which was very straightforward. We kept it open for a month and held a grand finale at our annual PTA quiz night, and encouraged many people to bid at the last minute. Quite a few postcards sold for £30 or £40 each, and Julia Donaldson’s raised the most at £49. In total we raised we raised more than £1,700.

Sarah Davies, secretary, Fulbourn Primary School PTFA, Cambridgeshire (280 pupils)

‘Our restaurant raffle gave the parents a well-deserved night out’

After organising several raffles for the children, we thought it was high time the grown-ups had a turn. Inspired by Brighton’s quirky eateries, we decided to treat them to a restaurant raffle. From a swanky champagne brunch to a mouth-watering Greek feast, our selection of prizes definitely catered to their tastes.

Local company Restaurants Brighton, which promotes local restaurants and bars, agreed to sponsor our raffle. They donated a £100 voucher as the main prize, funded all the posters and paid for the tickets, which we ordered from Eco Raffle Tickets. They also agreed to feature our raffle in their newsletter, encouraging other companies to donate prizes too.

Over the summer, I contacted other potential donors and secured some real treats: fine-dining restaurant The Ivy offered us a meal for two; popular Sussex-based coffee roastery Trading Post donated a six-month coffee subscription and several Brighton pubs offered Sunday roasts. Altogether we collected 20 prizes.

After a challenging year, parents were happy that eating out was back on the menu and needed little encouragement to get involved. Feeling confident in the quality of our prizes, we decided to sell tickets to the public, so for two weeks we sold tickets outside the school gates. We took payments in cash, electronically and through PayPal. The children helped too, each taking home a book of tickets to sell to their parents. Our hard work had paid off when we counted nearly £1,800 in ticket sales.

Some of the money went towards a virtual West End Aladdin experience, where pupils enjoyed a musical in their classroom. We were pleased we’d done something fun for the parents which had, in turn, given the children some end-of-term excitement.

Becs Kent, PTA chair, Elm Grove Primary School, Brighton, East Sussex (420 pupils)

‘We raised funds by celebrating inclusivity’

As part of our fundraising for a new outdoor classroom, we decided to organise a fundraiser that celebrated everyone’s individuality and called it Dare to be Different Day.

We emailed parents a list of possible dares: would pupils dare wear a tutu or a glittery cape? Might they brave a crazy hairdo? We added some simpler dares too, such as wearing trainers instead of school shoes, to encourage everyone to join in.

Completing one dare cost 50p, and the biggest dare-devils could pay £3 to try all seven ideas. The teachers kindly offered to collect this cash for us at the start of the day. Staff members liked the idea of accepting difference and this helped get them on board. Some even planned lessons on inclusivity to teach on the day.

The most popular dares were crazy hair and wearing pyjamas to school. We organised it on a Friday so the children could enjoy their hair dye and tattoos at the weekend.

We were thrilled to raise £297. This financial success and overall popularity of Dare to be Different Day has been very encouraging. The teachers asked us to keep it in the school calendar, and we happily agreed.

Claire Pickett, co-chair, Friends of Castor Church of England Primary School, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire (180 pupils)