Parent Teacher Association UK – Winter Edition 2015

Click here to read this article on the PTA’s online magazine and to see the Fundraising Whisperer’s Top 10 Brainstorming Tips

Fundraising Plans with benefits

For your fundraising efforts to be truly successful, it is worth a modest investment of time to brainstorm all the different ideas, then schedule your individual fund raising activities in an annual calendar. Mapping out a plan in this way enables you to readily identify the resources needed (this includes volunteer numbers), and avoid potentia I clashes or overlaps that could otherwise burden your supporters and diminish results. There are a few important elements to take into account:
your fundraising history (if you can lay your hands on this), available resources and fund raising ‘tools’.

Your fundraising history

Forward planning is best done with hindsight! Get your hands
on as much historical information as possible. If feedback notes from previous events are available, you have a huge advantage. But don’t panic if not. Play detective and hunt down information from:

  •  Previous fund raising coordinators
  • Suppliers of previous fundraising activities undertaken by your group (your Treasurer should be able to track down details)
  • Previous meetings’ minutes or treasure r’s reports.

Bear in mind that results are not only about profit – also consider the amount of effort required, return on investment, potential for improvement and activities that build vital links with the local community.

Throw out any fund raisers you would not repeat, and leave the rest in play for later discussion and possible inclusion in your plan. If your group is new to fundraising you will need to rely a lot more on guesswork this time, but your record-keeping will provide excellent groundwork for future efforts. Seek information and advice from other local PTAs and find out what works for them. You could also ask suppliers for rough estimates for a group of your type and size.

Available resources
The resources you have at your disposal might include:

  • Volunteers – in terms of both the time and effort they offer, as well as specific skills
  • Potential community support and strategic partnerships such as corporate sponsors
  • Assets that can be leveraged such as match funding or equipment that can be borrowed from other community groups.

There are a number of ways to determine the resources at your disposal. The simplest is to include questions relating to skills, resources and connections in a newsletter or in any online surveys to parents.

Ask if members’ employers offer match funding. While there is no definitive list of such companies, many big corporates offer incentives and schemes that can have a significant impact on your fund raising targets.

Word of mouth is always helpful, especially when it comes to building strategic connections within your community. Get your committee to brainstorm potential contacts and form a plan of attack! Consider how you can maximise use of assets and other resources:

  • If you have an abundance of volunteers, go crazy with larger events that require many hands
  • Get a grant application prepared for a specific goal by a volunteer who has experience of applying for funding
  • Ask a graphic design contact to create programmes for bigger events such as fairs, into which you can sell advertising.

Your fundraising tools

There is no right way to set up a fund raising plan, nor does one fund raising activity work for
every PTA. Treat every activity as a learning opportunity. Once you have experienced a full cycle of fund raising, you will be much better placed for a successful fund raising year going forward.

The best approach is to start with a mix of fund raising options and
to ‘try and test’ over time until you have a suite of ‘proven’ fund raisers. With proper record keeping, you will learn what works for your group. Fundraising tools to consider are:

SPECIAL EVENTS  – Fundraising events for adults, like charity balls or quiz nights, are great fun but are also wonderful community builders. Events for children or families, such as discos or magic shows, tend to be well attended and are a staple in the fund raising diet of many PTAs.

ORDER-FORM FUNDRAISING – Schemes such as Christmas cards, calendars or tea towels, are beneficial as there is no risk: you only order what is pre-sold. But they have their own challenges, requiring meticulous administration and the round-up capacity of a sheepdog
to get orders in on time!
A-THONS – Sponsored activities challenge participants to collect sponsorship for their efforts. Popular a-thons include spell-a-thons, fun runs and matchbox challenges, but why limit yourself to these? Any activity that can be measured  and sponsored can become an a-thon. These offer the added advantage of being applicable for Gift Aid, potentially adding an extra 25% to your fundraising total.

GRANTS – Often put in the ‘too-hard’ basket, grants are sitting there just waiting to be applied for. If you do not have a volunteer to cover this position, keep recruiting until you do, or get advice for the inexperienced at funded.org.uk – a new site from the publishers of PTA+.
DONATIONS –  Voluntary contributions are an important part of any fundraising campaign. ALWAYS ASK. If you don’t ask, you don’t know what support is out there. If you send a donation request out each year- to parents, community groups or local businesses – be certain to include a ‘tick box’ option for those who would like to donate but may not be in a position to do so at that particular time. You can then send out a separate request at a later date.

FAIRS –  These events are wonderful community builders. They do, however, require a lot of planning and an army of volunteers over an extended period. Done well, they have the potential to bring in a great deal of money.

RAFFLES – Raffles are a lucrative source of income for many groups and can range from a major draw for a substantial prize such as an iPad, which usually coincides with an event such as your Christmas fair, to a smaller raffle held at a themed social night.

ONLINE FUNDRAISING – This is a simple form of fundraising which requires very little effort. Shopping affiliate schemes reward your not­ for-profit group with a percentage of sales, each time your supporters shop online.

Brainstorm ideas

This is the fun part! Be creative, work in a group and go crazy … The first rule of brainstorming
is: NO IDEA IS STUPID!

Not every idea will be realistic or achievable, but everybody needs to feel able to voice their thoughts, otherwise you risk missing out on an absolute gem of an idea.

Hopefully you already have loads of ideas from your preplanning research – including
a good look through back issues of PTA+ Magazine and the website (pta.co.uk)! Now is the time to put it all into the mix!

Consider your target market. Are you tapping up the same people over and over? Can you engage support from outside your immediate community? Finally, use the brainstorming tips top-right to whittle down all the ideas into a definitive list for the year ahead.

Now make it happen!

Congratulations! Having made it this far, you are ready to fill in the blanks for your fund raising calendar! Circulate your plan – it’s not a state secret! You may decide to set up a formal consultation session with your community and volunteers to take note of any input. Alternatively, you may load a draft copy onto your website and invite people to comment. Communication is king as far as I am concerned. I believe the more people know, the more they will want to be involved. The more people involved, the more successful your fundraising will be. Remember, you don’t need a Masters’ degree to make your fundraising strategy work. You just need the right tools, the right advice, some like-minded people and the passion to make it happen.

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