During Covid, all the quiz nights and fun things we used to do went out the window, so we were looking for new ways to raise money. We really wanted to buy some nice outdoor furniture for the children to eat lunch outside, and we came up with the idea of writing to local businesses asking them to donate in return for getting their name on a table.
Josephine Parker and her husband Peter Claxton, owners of Ebike Café @ Deheers and parents at the school, came forward. To celebrate their first year in business, they were setting up an annual charitable partnership, and they decided to make the PTA their first recipient.
Josephine came up with the idea of donating 10p for every cup of coffee they sold, and in just six months they had raised £1,000. We were absolutely bowled over by the amount of money, and to say thank you we decided to put up a plaque to them in the school.
The local press picked up on the story, so it’s been good advertising for the café. It’s also been publicised to all the school children and their families through the plaque and the newsletter. I know Josephine would say it’s increased her sales, and hopefully it will inspire other local businesses to help us.
It’s really important to think outside the box when you’re approaching businesses, and not discount the small independent ones. Times may be tough, but you’d be surprised how many see giving back as part of their ethos. It’s just a case of finding them.
Kim Newstead, PTA chair, All Saints CE Academy, Weymouth, Dorset (830 pupils)
Josephine’s tips for approaching independent businesses
- Start by tapping parents at the school with a shout-out in the newsletter. Is there a garage owner who’d donate £5 for every MOT? A shoe shop that would donate £1 for every pair of school shoes sold?
- When approaching businesses you don’t know, always do it in person. With independent businesses, you can usually turn up and speak to the owner face-to-face.
- Rope someone in with a sales background if you can – they’ll need to be a bit ballsy.
- Take a letter with the school or PTA logo on it, explaining exactly what you’re raising money for and how they can help.
- Tell them what you can offer in return, such as their logo on a poster or a plaque on an item they funded.
- Explain you don’t need an answer straight away, you’ll pop back again next week.
- Don’t get disheartened. You might approach ten businesses and only get one response, but it could raise more money than an event that involves far more time and effort.