Although a PTA and school are two separate organisations, getting the school involved in the PTA's work and vice versa is beneficial to all parties. But where do you start? Here are some ways in which the school and PTA can support each other.
Any money raised is the PTA's to spend, but as it's been raised for the benefit of the school, the school is best placed to advise on where funds are most needed. Invite staff to make purchase requests and come to meetings to discuss how funds can be spent.
Find out more in our agreeing a wishlist feature.
How can the PTA help to achieve some of the school's aims?
PTAs don't have to be purely about fundraising, and much PTA activity can help the school to achieve some of its other aims. Meet with the school to discuss any particular goals it has which could be addressed through PTA activity. You may find you can tick multiple boxes with one event. Goals might include:
Promoting the curriculum: Fundraisers can tie into learning, e.g. a sponsored walk to promote activity or a readathon to encourage literacy. This is also a great way to involve teaching staff.
Ties with the community: Events which are open to the community can help to boost the school's relationship with the local area, which in turn raises the profile of the school and widens your potential donor base.
Hold an unusual event such as a colour run for unique appeal, or fill gaps in your local area, e.g. a film screening if you don't have a cinema, or quiz night if you lack social amenities.
When it comes to community events, it doesn't always have to be a fundraiser. Running something like a public lunch, where you open the school canteen up to local residents and offer food at a break-even cost, brings people together and generates great PR, which raises awareness of your project and may result in offers of support from unexpected sources.
Engage hard-to-reach parents: PTA activity can help to engage hard-to-reach parents through events which are run to break even rather than for a profit, with the core focus being on creating memories and bringing people together.
Delivering unique experiences: Creating fun memories is a contribution to the school within itself, as the PTA is giving pupils opportunities they wouldn't normally have and which the school may not have the time or resources to organise, and through this is enriching the children's school experience, e.g. a circus or pantomime.
Involving pupils in the PTA is directly benefitting them through your activity. This could be through running a 'grow a pound' challenge, where there are class stalls at your summer/winter fair. From the school's perspective, this gives pupils the opportunity to take ownership and responsibility while learning about business and enterprise. It also relieves some of the fundraising pressure from your committee, and parents will be more likely to attend if their children are involved. Read our pupil-run stall testimonials here.
Consider forming a pupil PTA council, where pupils can tell you what issues they believe need addressing and can have input into how the money is spent. Maybe they could even become more regular fundraising helpers and learn valuable volunteering skills!
The relationship between the school and the PTA is crucial. A public show of support from the Headteacher tells parents, families and the community that the PTA's efforts are valued, which, in turn, boosts support and donations. Your Headteacher's backing is also pivotal in setting an example and leading the way for other teaching staff to support the PTA. Giving your cause their backing stops the school and PTA seeming like two separate entities.
If teachers don't know how to help out, invite them to contribute their skills - you may find weaknesses in your committee can be filled by staff members. Whether it's designing posters or writing newsletters or press releases, highlight the areas in your committee where specific skills are needed and advertise these on the staff noticeboard.
Of course, not all staff members will be able to make this time commitment, but volunteers don't need to be experts at something specific. Many hands make light work, and staff members are always welcome to attend PTA events. If they can help to run the event as volunteers then that's a fantastic addition to any fundraiser, but remember that staff members simply attending events has a positive impact by showing the ties between the school and PTA.
Encourage staff to get involved and give back to them but giving them perks at your event. For example, offer staff members a free ticket to run a colour run. Not only will this encourage more spectators to attend (who won't want to see Miss Smith being covered in rainbow powder!) it also allows staff members to let their hair down, have fun and shows that everyone's in it together.
Equally, consider how the PTA can support school events, e.g. providing refreshments for sports days or nativities, something which raises funds for your PTA while giving the school one less element to organise.
Use school's resources
By using the school to distribute your announcements and information, you can bypass concerns of GDPR rules and transfer the consideration to the school, who will already have training in data protection. Read more about how GDPR applies to PTAs here.
The school's equipment can benefit PTA events, whether it's classroom furniture, the school allowing you to plug into the mains electricity, being able to store resources on site, or even providing the caretaker free-of-charge when needed for an event. The PTA may also have equipment in its stores which the school can benefit from, e.g. gazebos, PA systems and catering equipment.
Get together with your school and committee to discuss how much support the school gives you and where this can be build on, as well as where the PTA can incorporate the school's goals into its events, fundraising and spending. Both organisations exist in order to benefit pupils, and by working together you can raise more funds, bring the community together and enhance the overall experience of the children.