Grants and a community appeal helped us hit our fundraising target

Our MUGA which will benefit nearly every family in the village, says Anna Baker, PTA chair at Alderley Edge Community Primary School in Cheshire

Our school has a lovely field, but it’s often waterlogged. This results in cancelled matches, less space for play and unhappy pupils. Uneven Tarmac on the netball court makes games difficult and risks injury. The lack of suitable facilities discourages children from learning the skills they need to play sports.

The idea of fundraising for a multi-use games area (MUGA) had been suggested by the PTA before last, working with the previous head. They’d got a quote, but it hadn’t gone beyond that. Enthusiasm waned as parents watched their children progress through the school with no end in sight.

A team effort

I wanted to make a difference for the school while I wasn’t working. So I joined forces with a friend, Vicki Nullis, and we created a new PTA committee with five parent helpers. I also formed a separate group with three other parents which concentrated on fundraising for the MUGA. A big fundraising project is a lot of hard work and without this amazing team, it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve what we did.

Despite a cost of £80,000, the original plans didn’t solve all the school’s problems. We wanted to get it right, so we asked for another quote. A MUGA with a netball court and hockey quicksticks pitch inside a mini-soccer pitch would cost around £125,000. It was a lot, but we decided to try.

Spreading the word

The first thing we tackled was to improve communications. The PTA had a Facebook and Twitter account, but neither were being used to their full effect. Vicki made huge improvements to what we were already doing and recruited another parent to run an Instagram account. Now, nearly all our supporters follow us on one of our social media platforms, and everyone knows what we’re up to. Our class reps use WhatsApp groups to spread the word and get more people involved. The more people who help, the less work it is for us, and the more we’ve been able to concentrate on fundraising.

Taking action

In 2019, we made a plan based around a packed events calendar, grant applications and a community appeal. A parent on the committee is a charity bid-writer, and she helped source grants and make applications. The PTA had a contact at a grant-giving trust who liked our project and put us in touch with other funders.

We held a firework display, film nights, school discos and a Bag2School collection. We hosted a sell-out quiz for adults which created a buzz around the PTA and helped us make connections. There was such a feeling of optimism, but our events programme came to an abrupt end when schools closed because of Covid. Juggling family life and homeschooling was tricky, and the PTA came to a standstill.

When the children finally went back in September 2020, we began again in earnest. The community was behind us, and we were positive we could reach our target.

We launched a community appeal. The parish council ran a full-page article in their newsletter and the right people saw our call for help. Donations came in from all sections of the community. Some donors had lived in the village for many years and had either attended the school themselves or had children who were past pupils. The appeal raised over £30,000.

Fundraising frenzy

Over the next few months, we held as many events as were possible within the Covid restrictions at the time: our annual bales race raised over £4,000 – four times as much as usual, and at Christmas the hamper raffle raised a huge £1,350. We joined YourSchool Lottery, produced a school cookbook and held a ‘break the rules’ day. We also signed up for Gift Aid and claimed back around £1,500.

By April 2021, we’d secured a £5,000 grant from the parish council and received another £5,000 from The Beech Hall Trust. In May, we put together a big funding application to Alderley Edge Institute Trust. We were asked to present our case for funding to them and the following day, we received the incredible news that we’d been awarded almost £50,000, taking our fundraising total up to £125,000. We’d done it!

Anna Baker, chair, Alderley Edge Community Primary School PTA, Alderley Edge, Cheshire (210 pupils)

Grant success

Benefits for all

As part of our funding bids, it was important to demonstrate how the MUGA would benefit the wider community. Alderley Edge Hockey Club described how the MUGA would enable it to set up disability hockey sessions. Alderley United FC explained how it would gain vital access to training facilities – benefitting over 300 children who play for the club each week. We also included details of the benefits for local guiding, scouting and holiday club organisations.

Maintenance

Grant funders were interested to know how we planned to maintain the MUGA. We demonstrated that the school could set aside income from lettings to clubs and societies – even though they were set at an affordable level – and that the PTA would contribute an equal amount from fundraising activities. This will be enough to maintain and re-surface the MUGA for the next 10 to 15 years.

Publicity

Articles in the parish newsletter and on local website alderleyedge.com also helped show funders that we were doing our very best to raise awareness
of our cause.

Funding breakdown

PTA funds already in the bank £26,000

Community appeal £32,000

Events from September 2019 to

February 2020 £3,000

Events since September 2020 £10,000

Smaller grants £10,000

Alderley Edge Institute Trust grant £50,000

Gift Aid £1,500

Outgoings  -£5,000

TOTAL: £127,500