Cuts to budgets across the country have left some SMTs and Parent Teacher Association (PTA) groups reliant on school fundraising for additional resources and extra-curricular activities for children. Keeping new projects fresh and engaging can be a struggle, however, not to mention addressing the challenge of fundraising in less affluent areas.
Schools need to continually formulate innovative school fundraising ideas to make their efforts worthwhile. When done well, however, fundraisers not only generate considerable value for a school’s learning facilities, they unite the local community and develop the core skills of the children taking part.
What does school fundraising achieve?
Some awkwardness exists around the subject of school fundraising but the reality of our current political and financial climate means education funding can be critical to the successful running of a school. Additional funding provides a pot of money for interactive front of class displays like Promethean ActivPanels, sports clubs, arts and crafts projects, theatre trips, visits from external speakers, storytelling groups and scientists. All of these additional tools and activities help pupils engage in learning and develop their subject-specific passions.
Some technology companies like Promethean recognise and actively address schools’ reliance on donations to build their fleet of devices. Acutely aware of the positive impact edtech can have on pupils’ development, Promethean holds an annual grant scheme by which schools around the country apply to receive a free ActivPanel.
The 30 interactive panels are awarded based on the creativity of the application, the need for the technology, and potential impact it would have. Tottingham Primary, one of the winning schools, submitted this video to highlight the impact new technology would have on their learning experiences:
There’s more to be gained from school fundraisers that make a lot of money than just growing school technology, infrastructure and activities. Taking part in fundraising projects can instil valuable and transferable skills in children such as a practical business sense and basic marketing for products, events or services.
Working towards a common goal, promoting a sense of self management and understanding social responsibility is incredibly valuable to a child’s development. Jamie, the star of Tottington Primary School’s winning video, explained how he’s developed from a shy child that struggled to make friends to a confident and motivated pupil.
How to raise money for schools
While the concept of school fundraising to provide additional resources for pupils is relatively new to the UK, schools in the US have been education funding for decades.
A cocktail of rising expectations from American parents, reduced funding and declining tax revenues has led to an explosion of US school foundations. A headteacher in Chicago, for example, recounts warning parents he was cutting two teaching posts as a result of budget reductions. The PTA responded by raising more than $130,000 in one week to save the staff. According to the Financial Times, the amount being raised in the US by parents and through donations is thought to be above $2 billion a year.
In the UK, there’s an underlying sense of disquiet among parents that are repeatedly asked to donate money to their schools. So, what inspiration can we gather from our stateside colleagues on how to raise money for schools in a positive and energetic way?
Popular fundraising ideas for schools
The best way to raise money for your school is to provide something unique that adds genuine value to those donating or buying in to your fundraising activities. To help your school with its efforts, we’ve put together some unique fundraising ideas for schools that are neither expensive nor complicated to execute:
1) School sleepover
Parents often lament over how much they’d love a night out, but are too busy looking after their children to do so. Babysitters can be expensive and unreliable, so why not put on a school sleepover instead?
Ask pupils to bring bedding and PJs while your schools puts on a night of activities and games for the pupils. Charge a small fee and it will be worth every penny to parents; their children get a night of fun with their friends and they benefit from cheap childcare, letting them enjoy a well-deserved night to themselves.
2) Technology harvest
It’s no secret that large businesses have a strict shelf life for their technology. Once hardware needs upgrading, the redundant machinery — usually in perfect working order — takes up valuable office space.
Contact any medium to large local businesses to see if they’d consider donating their redundant hardware to your school. They could provide you with a fleet of nearly-new devices such as laptops, tablets or desktop computers for your pupils whilst freeing up their floorspace. It makes a nice PR story for their business, too.
3) Tasting nights
Everyone loves a little bit of indulgence now and then, so why not host an evening that appeals to all our foodies? Contact a local merchant producing regional cheeses or wines, for example, and ask them supply goods at cost price.
Look at current trends and decide what will appeal the most to your audience; perhaps capitalise on the nation’s new found love of gin by hosting a gin tasting evening. Or pick a seasonal theme such as Oktoberfest, Christmas markets, or tap into a trend like pop-up restaurants, healthy eating or street food.
Produce inexpensive tasting notes for attendees, then run a quiz with blind tastings and a few prizes for the best contenders, while supporting and promoting local businesses.
4) Skills swap
There is almost certainly a valuable pool of skills among your school’s parents. Ask them to swap their skills for an event in return for free entry to a different one, then charge the rest of your attendees.
Examples include; asking a chef to cook for a summer barbeque, a themed dinner with educational speakers on specialist subject, a DJ to play music, or a networking event for the more business-minded. Again, design your event based on your audience and charge an appropriate fee.
5) Buy a brick
If your schools need additional budget to expand its buildings or infrastructure, buy a brick is perfect. Appeal for donations from local businesses looking to boost their CSR or gain additional exposure for their brand.
The donor’s name can then be recognised by engraving a commemorative brick on display to staff, pupils and visitors. Bespoke bricks can be chosen and engraved here.
6) The apprentice
This is an excellent way to get your pupils to develop their entrepreneurial sense, or to engage enthusiastic, business-minded parents. Nominate groups of children or volunteering parents and give them a small amount of money, perhaps as little as £1.
Task each group with using their £1 to come up with a money-generating scheme or entrepreneurial idea to bring in money for the school. Offering an attractive prize for the winning team will keep them motivated to come up with the best schemes, and encourage them to flex their business muscles.
7) Affiliate schemes
A lesser-known income generator, affiliate schemes are one of the lowest effort ways to raise money for schools. Capitalise on the convenience of online shopping and simply provide staff and parents a link to an affiliate window to their favourite websites such as Amazon.
All sales through the website generate a small return for the school, and your school can earn up to 10% of advertising fees. Some popular examples are:
Amazon Affiliates — An Amazon-specific affiliate scheme for the entire Amazon website
The Easy Funding Site — a platform with links to over 2,700 retailers including Expedia, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s
School Angel — a free community fundraising platform which helps UK schools raise funds, including links to Next, Boots and Argos webstores.
School fundraising needn’t be seen as just asking for money; it just takes a little inspiration and outside-the-box thinking to craft inexpensive but valuable ways to raise money for your school. Not only that, getting everyone involved in your school fundraising ideas can enhance the development of your pupils and unite your local community with fun and educational social activities.