School Fundraising a Pleasure or a Pain?
Why Do UK Schools Even Need to Fundraise?
In these days of cut backs and austerity most schools need to pro-actively raise funds for a variety of reasons, these include special projects such as buying new equipment and improving buildings, creating welfare funds to support families who are experiencing financial difficulties, or simply helping pupils to develop empathy for others by fundraising for good causes locally, nationally and internationally.
Fundraising A Pleasure or A Pain?
Starting a fundraising initiative is usually the remit of teaching staff or senior management, this can be in response to a specific or on-going school need, or in response to an appeal from a good cause such as Guide Dogs UK. Busy teaching and support staff already overloaded with planning, marking and standards paperwork so it's understandable that they may not willingly instigate or want to get involved in fundraising activities. However, when pupils come together with a shared focus of raising money for a particular goal they learn skills that complement the curriculum and gain valuable life experience that will enhance them both academically and vocationally.
One-Off Fundraising Projects
One-off fundraising initiatives bring multi-layered learning opportunities including creative thinking strategies, project planning skills, team working and use of monitoring and project evaluation tools. They take intensive planning but can be a great way of developing cross-curricular schemes of work for primary schools using elements of English and Maths, and for senior schools adding in Business Studies & PSE.
Pupils at all levels of achievement and across different year groups should be able to contribute and feel valued. Once the planning is over and the activity is underway this creates opportunities for whole school involvement bringing a high level sense of engagement, belonging and achievement.
Longer-term Fundraising Initiatives
On-going fundraising is the best way to create pupil welfare funds or equipment and extra curricular activity funds. These often require an upfront investment of time by school staff, but then minimal on-going involvement. On-going fundraising can be started by school staff then delegated to parent committees with governors as the link between the two. Fundraising that requires continual input and administration should be avoided as the cost in time often outweighs the benefits. For example if you want to sell branded school sweatshirts sending out paper order forms or having parents queuing up outside the office at 3.15 is probably not a great idea. But putting the effort into sourcing great branded products and having them on your own school on-line store collected by pupils or fulfilled by a third party is a perfect solution.
How to Get (and keep) Parents Involved
Parents are rarely offended by school fundraising activities and are often willing to get involved and contribute as a way of supporting their children's wider education. Directly appealing to parents for money such as asking them to set up a monthly direct debit to a welfare fund can be seen as offensive and have a mixed response, but asking them get involved in activities they do anyway such as signing up to a school lottery or buy their Christmas Cards from the school on-line store will usually result in a much more positive response setting the scene for on-going giving and involvement.
About the Author:
Lisa Dickinson is a professional fundraiser and the founder of MyCharityMarketplace.com - a free selling space that can be shared by good causes and help them in their charity/school/church fundraising goals. For more information about Lisa or how My Charity Marketplace can help your charity or school to raise funds contact us here