Schools must avoid piling too much fundraising pressure onto families living in poverty and struggling with the cost of living. Craig Watson offers five alternative fundraising ideas:
Given the current funding challenges facing schools, fundraising activities are becoming more and more important.
Whether this be via the PTA or led by the school directly, whether this be to subsidise a residential trip for the students, or whether it is raising money for a local charity, schools put on these activities with the best of intentions.
However, in my time as a teacher, my time at Children North East as
the poverty-proofing coordinator, and from the almost 10 years of poverty-proofing experience in the charity, we have seen the pressure that can be put on families from fundraising requests.
This could be direct pressure, financially, to contribute, or socially to feel that they have to contribute in order to “fit in”. Just consider these comments from families we have worked with. school fundraiser ideas
- “Having come from a lower earning family I can imagine it is very difficult for some families especially with more than one child to afford some fundraising days.”
- “I understand that £1 per child for a non-uniform day helps with benefits towards the school and it isn’t a lot to ask, but sometimes if you only have £5, paying for two children gets difficult – but I never want my children to miss out or be seen as different.”
- “The small costs don’t seem much, but £1 donations here and there soon add up, times two.”
It is because of these pressures that we, as a team, have been trying to think of ways for schools to raise money that do not involve asking families for donations or handing out request forms for the latest sponsor-a-thon.
Here are some alternative ideas that will help schools generate money without putting pressure on families and children.
1, Business outreach
One method to consider is contacting businesses and asking if they would be interested in making a donation to help the school fund whatever it is you are working on. And do not assume that the company has to have links with education. Many local businesses
will want to help simply because they have a real connection with the area or even the school.
Let the company know what the funding is for, as many businesses like to know how their money will be used. We have worked with a school in the North East who contacted a local service station and got £500 worth of books donated to the school library.
During my time at secondary school, we asked if local companies wanted to buy advertising space to help fund the leavers yearbooks – and were delighted when the local fireplace outlet took a full page which funded the majority of the print-run.
As well as the smaller, local businesses, think big too. There are many incentives for larger organisations to donate to good causes including tax deductions, good publicity and – more than anything – that feeling of helping others. One high school I know of received a donation of around £1,000 from a nearby Amazon warehouse to help fund STEM equipment.
2, Donation of items, kills or time
Rather than asking for money, could you ask for donations of items or skills from organisations?
If raising money for a new library, consider enquiring about donations of books, for example. If you are raising money to help decorate the playground, ask for donations of time and skills (parents and people from the local community who can come and help).
You may have families in your local area who are unable to contribute financially but would love to support the school in another way – and by donating their time or skills they can be involved in often invaluable and more meaningful ways.
3, Grant funding
Many schools have an identified member of staff who has a key role of looking and applying for additional pots of funding. These grants are often widely available from all manner of organisations but applying for them is not always the most straightforward activity.
Consider sending your business manager or a key member of staff out for specific training on writing bid applications. In the current financial climate, these grants and funding opportunities will be in high demand and an effective bid may be the difference between being successful and not.
4, Parent associations
Use your PTA and local community of parents and families who will have many potentially useful connections. I can’t tell you how many times I have been scrolling through social media and seen a friend or a colleague tagging the local school in a post about winning a year’s supply of glue sticks or a bag of footballs for the school team.
As a school, you have access to a large number of families so use them to help you. Also, you can ask families to support you with vouchers schemes that supermarkets often run – like Morrison’s Good to Grow scheme.
These can be a great way to obtain equipment for your school. Although be wary of making families feel like they have to go and spend money in a certain store. Ensure they understand that this is entirely optional and avoid competitions of who can raise the most. Also, ensure that the collection of these vouchers is done subtly to ensure the children themselves do not make it into a competition.
5, Affiliate schemes
Investigate different affiliate schemes linked to online shopping. If you set up your school with an affiliate link (like AmazonSmile or Easyfundraising), then every time someone spends money online using that link your school can earn money through commission from the website at no extra cost to the customer.
Just as with the supermarket voucher schemes, be conscious of not trying to put pressure on families to buy additional products through certain websites or to spend more money than they normally would.