Spotlight on business partnerships

Working with businesses could provide a whole new income stream for your PTA, by Zoë Hill

What is it?

It’s easy to rely on the pockets of your parent community, but times are tough and everyone is being hit hard by the cost of living crisis. However, cast your net wider and think beyond the school gates and you’ll see all kinds of businesses – identify which ones are thriving (for example, expanding and taking on new staff) and you could find they have a lot to offer you, while you have plenty to give them in return.

Think local

While big corporations in every sector might have more money at their disposal, they’re also likely to have plenty of hoops to jump through, which could make it hard to get anywhere. That’s why your best bet is to think local. If there’s a major employer in your area – from a big manufacturer to a call centre – rather than getting in touch with head office, approach your local point of contact. Many supermarkets, for instance, have community champions whose role is to provide a link between the store and the local area. They’re a great starting place to approach for donations. Smaller firms are often proud to be part of the community too, and may love the chance to be involved with the PTA and your events.

5 easy wins


1 Running a Smarties challenge? See if you can get any tubes (or the cash equivalent) donated

2 Looking for Mother’s Day ideas? Approach a supermarket about flower donations – send each child home with a label to design and ask them to bring it back with £2; return the label with a bunch of tulips or daffodils

3 When the shops are reducing end-of-season bargains, ask if they can donate any to the PTA – use as prizes or for secret gift rooms

4 Planning an Easter egg hunt? Some supermarkets are known to be generous with chocolate

5 Supermarkets can be a good source of festive gifts, so Father Christmas can give them out as presents in your grotto.

5 places to approach

Other businesses

1 Cinemas – if you’re hosting a film night, head down to your local multiplex to see if they’ll donate popcorn and some tickets for a raffle prize

2 Bakeries – your local bakery might be able to help out with burger and hot dog buns for your summer fair barbecue

3 Estate agents – many agencies will donate money for every volunteer who has a board outside their house ahead of a big event. And it doesn’t have to end with your summer fair – ask them to promote an ongoing fundraiser

4 Restaurants – a voucher for dinner at a popular hotspot is often a huge hit as a raffle prize

5 Pubs and bars – these are definitely worth approaching if you’re raffling off a barrow of booze.

In detail: Event sponsorship

  • Whether it’s for help with your summer fair, fireworks display, colour run or another event entirely, approach businesses in plenty of time so you know how much you’ve got to work with
  • Suggest different tiers of sponsorship, where the benefits a company receives will depend on how much they donate
  • Ask if firms would like to sponsor a stall at your summer or Christmas fair – as well as their logo on the sign, they might even be persuaded to offer up a volunteer or two, which lets them engage with the community
  • Invite a food or drink van along, and agree beforehand whether you’ll charge a flat fee or a percentage share of their takings.

Do’s and don’ts

DON’T underestimate the personal touch when first approaching a business – it might be easier to send an email, but it’s also much easier for someone to ignore. Consider picking up the phone, or pop in and introduce yourself – either take a letter with you, outlining the details of your request, or follow up with the details in an email later, and they’ll be able to put a face to a name

DO be clear about what you want, whether it’s a cash donation, a raffle prize, volunteers to paint the playground fencing, or something else

DON’T ask, don’t get – it might feel awkward when you start approaching businesses, but it’s worth getting over this. The worst they can say is no, and you’re no worse off than when you started

DO aim big – if a company asks what you’d like, shoot for the stars; they can always negotiate downwards

DON’T forget to think of it as a transaction – yes, you’re asking for something, but you’re also offering something in a return; a company with its name all over your publicity is getting a huge amount of advertising

DO think outside the box – do you have a local football or rugby team, or other sports club, that might be able to offer match tickets as a prize? Maybe they can make an appearance at your summer fair to increase attendance – or even man the ‘beat the goalie’ stall!

DON’T be put off by rejections – you’re going to need a thick skin for this, as it could well take several ‘sorry, that’s not for us’ replies before you get a ‘yes, we’d love to help’

DO ask any parents if they can help; if they’re employed, there might be benefits through the company they work for. Or if they’re self-employed, their own business might be able to help out

DON’T forget about your admin – printing paperwork (event posters, flyers and programmes) can get expensive. There might be a local company that would jump at the chance to have their name on these in exchange for printing them for you

DO thank businesses after the event, not just on your social media channels but also in a ‘thank you’ letter. Write or email them to say how much your event raised and what the money will be spent on. Aside from being good manners, it may also increase the chances of a profitable relationship – for both parties – in future.


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