Forget those January blues and start planning some great things for the future with our 2018 guide to fundraising in schools.
It’s the start of a new year and for schools that means it’s time to start exploring some exciting new fundraising opportunities and ideas! You may have plenty of brilliant activities you’d like to try out in 2018 already but, before you start organising, we’ve put together a super handy plan for the year ahead that will help you successfully and effortlessly reach your targets for 2018.
When you're ready we've also got a blank template so that you can put your own ideas down on paper.
First up, though, here are some reasons why planning your fundraising in January instead of at the beginning of the school year is always the best option.
It means you’re ready for September well in advance. As most parents and teachers will know, the beginning of the school year is one of busiest times in terms of planning and organisation. By coming up with your school fundraising plan well in advance, you’ll not only have less to worry about when the new school year rolls around but you’ll also have less issues with handovers if you suddenly have a new group of volunteers.
You can factor in any extra fundraising to meet your yearly goal. If you have a set target to reach by June, the few months after Christmas will give you plenty of time to plan in a few extra fundraisers during term time.
You can tap into people’s New Year’s resolutions. January is traditionally a time of new beginnings, and many people may have resolved to be more generous or charitable in 2018. If you start planning you fundraising calendar in January, you can make the most of this mindset and get people involved early on in events that match their skills and interests.
It gives you the chance to build up your network ahead of big fundraisers. Your school’s summer fair or equivalent is probably the biggest fundraising event you organise so you’ll want to get as much help from volunteers as possible. By getting people to become part of the school community and building up your relationships with them early on, you’ll be far better prepared for the summer and look less like you just want their help for that one event.
You can get ahead of other schools with planning and publicity. A lot of schools might not think of planning ahead in January – and this can give you a solid advantage when it comes to getting local businesses and the community involved in your events. You should make the most of getting your voice heard when others are quiet.
For those keen to start planning for fundraising success in 2018, we’ve put together a brilliant month-by-month plan to make it that little bit easier. We’ve suggested a few things you could consider doing each month, under the subheadings of ‘Network’, ‘Communications’, ‘Events’, ‘Planning’, ‘Asking’ and ‘Inspiration’.
Read on and then start planning for a year of great fundraising at your school!
Network. Your biggest job this month, if you haven’t already done it, will be to write down your network of contacts that might come in handy for any upcoming fundraising. Split it into different groups, such as parents, alumni, teachers, volunteers and local business, and decide on different goals for each one – perhaps you want to get more people to go to PTA meetings or you want to have more interaction with local businesses? You can then start brainstorming about how to achieve these goals.
Communication. Commit to sending relevant communications to each group in your network each month. They don’t have to be perfect but make sure each newsletter, email or social media post talks about the children, the great things that are going on at school and how you’re doing with your fundraising target. Don’t forget to mention any important dates for their diaries too!
Events. January should be about planning informal networking events such as parent pub trips, quiz evenings with the board of governors and casual meetings with local businesses.
Planning. If you don’t already have one, make sure you set some time aside to create a fundraising strategy for 2018. If you have got one already, take a look at it and change anything if necessary. Also, have a look at the 14 New Years Resolutions every fundraiser should make.
Asking. Ask parents at your school to make some small and simple changes every day to help you collect money. Perhaps you can get them involved in a recycling scheme or ask them to use easyfundraising so they can raise money while they shop?
Inspiration. Celebration days and events going on in January that you could plan a fundraising event around include The Big Garden Bird Watch, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Sugar Awareness Week and Young Carers Awareness Day.
£ Target - £200
Network. Now you’ve got your network organised, February is a time to let them know how they can help you with fundraising for the rest of the year. Some parts of your network may not be that helpful yet but if you keep sharing your vision and aims, they might be willing to get involved a few months down the line. You should also ask your school network to start gathering information for trust applications and find someone willing to coordinate and write them. Starting early with these tasks could mean you can fund specific projects with no delay in September.
Communications. It will almost be February half term so you should try making your focus academic by sharing with your network how well the school is doing, how the kids are showing real promise, how they’re engaging in extracurricular activities and any hopes the school has for the upcoming months. Every good relationship should be two way, so try to get people involved in the conversation as much as possible by putting an ideas box in the school reception.
You could ask parents and pupils to think of a theme for the summer fair or add suggestions for fundraising activities that have never been done before. Make sure you find a way to respond to them by getting people to put their names and contact details on any ideas submitted.
Events. The main thing happening in February will be the half term break. See if you can use this to your advantage by planning an easy, low effort fundraising event such as a mufti day, a games day or a talent show on the day before the break. Canva do a great set of poster templates so that you can advertise what you are up to.
Planning. Now you have a solid fundraising strategy, you’ll need to get people to buy into it. Consider writing a list of the volunteers you’ll need for each event and get people signed up early for things they can do. Start planning your Easter fundraising early on in February too, so people have time to think about it over the half term holiday. If you are feeling short of ideas you may be interested in, Tried and Tested Fundraising Ideas for Schools.
Asking. Try to keep your asking to a minimum in this month but still make it possible for people to give and engage in what you’re doing. Hold off on asking people directly to donate as this will be best saved for a big event or a final push for a target at the end of the year.
Inspiration. February has a couple of big days in it which you can effortlessly turn into fundraising opportunities. These include Pancake Day and Valentine’s Day.
£ Target - £750
Network. Think about how your network might be split into close groups and then those just on the fringes, and consider strengthening your relationship with the close supporters. A strong core can mean effective growth and a better chance at some brilliant fundraising! Plus, after Easter, it’ll be all hands on deck for your big summer fundraising plans and you’ll want all the help you can get from a strong, reliable team.
Communications. People may be starting to wind down for the Easter break, but now will be the perfect time to say something relevant to each of your network groups about your future fundraising in the summer term.
Events. With the Easter break usually at the end of the month, focus your fundraising efforts on this with some seasonal activities like an Easter egg hunt, egg decorating competition or a themed mufti day.
Asking. Whatever you decide to do for your Easter fundraising, make sure it includes a clear ask for money. You can still have multiple aims for your fundraising events but it’s a great opportunity to start practising asking. It doesn’t always come easy to everyone but you can ease yourself into it with something simple like asking people if they mind rounding up their purchases if you’re selling items at a fair.
Inspiration. March is full of great fundraising opportunities like Mother’s Day, National Gardening Day, Comic Relief Red Nose Day and Sports Relief.
£ Target - £1,450
Network. After the Easter break, you’ll want to be planning your summer fundraiser straight away and asking how your network can get involved through separate messages to each group. For people on the fringe, ask them for less than people for people who have always been at the heart of your group and more willing to help out. Try to push people gently into the next stages of commitment.
Communications. Make sure that all of your communications are telling a story, and don’t be afraid to repeat things you’ve already said. Some people will need to hear a rallying call again to be persuaded to get involved, and parents will want to hear how your fundraising efforts will benefit their kids’ futures. Similarly, remind businesses what it would mean for the local community to have committed young individuals coming into the workforce – they could be part of the success of the next generation where you live.
Events. You may have your hands full with summer preparations so try a number of informal events in April that require little effort but can reap great returns. It’s a good idea to try something specific and targeted to a certain audience e.g. a disco for the older kids or a sponsored activity for teachers.
Planning. We love this resource for planning a summer fair, it's a fun way to ask people to help. Use your communications resources to make a simple and stand out flyer like Queensgate Primary School.
Now is also a great time to consider your policies for the summer activities. For a full range of practical infomration click here.
Asking. It’ll be time to start asking your network to donate raffle prizes, as well as to collect donations in kind for big fundraising events like the school fair.
Inspiration. The London Marathon is a big event in April that could give you the inspiration to organise a school fun run or another sporty fundraiser.
£ Target - £200
Network. This month is all about making the most of those relationships you’ve been building up since January. It makes sense to focus all of your energies on your end of term fundraiser, whether that’s a summer fair, a summer gala, a dinner or a boat race. The end of term is such a great opportunity to catch people on a high after they’ve worked hard and hopefully achieved great things. Plus, you’ll have a whole set of school leavers to potentially join your alumni network!
Communications. Make your communications in May all about the success of the year and how you’ll be celebrating them. Share feel good stories and describe how you’re planning on reaching the last stretch of your target (if relevant) so people can help you reach your final goal.
Events. As another half term month, May is a good time to have an easy informal fundraising activity like a car wash or a student fashion show. Don’t spend too much time on it though as you’ll want to put all your energy into the big summer event!
Planning. With all your preparations for the summer completed by now, it’s the perfect time to start planning for September to December. Just before the summer fundraiser happens, spare a thought for the minimum you’ll need to do to hit the ground running in September. Also, make sure you’re able to send a few communications over the summer. They shouldn’t be in depth but simply aim to keep people in the loop and remind them to get involved again once the holiday is over. If you can, try to get the names of new parents on your network list too!
£ Target - £3,400
It will be all systems go for your summer fundraiser and that will probably take up all your time. Later on in the year, we’ll publish the ultimate guide to fundraising for your summer fair so watch this space! For now, watch this video from The Royal Ballet School - who hold a summer fair that may well be the envy of all other summer fairs!
£ Target - £3,900
Relax, go on holiday and take a break from fundraising- you’ll definitely deserve it!
Network. You’ve had a much-needed break but now it’s time to get back into the swing of things! Begin by having a clean-up of your network, getting rid of old parents and others who are no longer part of the school community from your list. You should also ask recently graduated kids if they want to receive alumni info, and reach out to new parents to see if they want to get involved with school fundraising and receive updates.
Communications. Try to meet the headteacher and find out what the year ahead looks like. You can then work out how to translate this into a story where there’s a problem to solve and the parents at your school can be the heroes to fix it by offering their time, talent, donations and commitment!
Events. September will be a month to welcome new kids to the school with a fun activity. It’s also the perfect time to have an Autumn Fete or organise a seasonal activity such as a petting farm event in the school playground for kids.
Asking. The start of the academic year is not the time to be asking for donations. First, you’ll need to build up relationships again and get people on board with helping achieve your vision for the school. They’ll be plenty of other great times over the year to ask for cash so don’t worry about doing it in September.
Network. People are more willing to give money to causes they care passionately about. If you build up a network of like-minded individuals who care deeply about your cause, you will stand a much better chance of your network growing organically through word of mouth. If you have been following our guide throughout the year, you will have already started networking at school and within the local community, but now is the time, if you haven’t already, to think more strategically.
Four ways to network more strategically
Not everyone will want to be a part of your network, so you should focus your efforts on those who you know will be interested. Focus on specialisms. If you are fundraising for a specialist school, such as a faith, arts or science school, seek people who show interest in those subjects. Don’t just seek them out in person either – look online for anyone who is prevalent in their social media community and be sure to reach out to them, whether they live locally or further afield.
When somebody donates money to your cause, you must go above and beyond when thanking them, showing that you appreciate their effort and making it worth their while. One-way transactions will be unfulfilling for them, so make sure you recognise their goodwill in a way they will appreciate. This will differ depending on the age range of the donor but, if you take a moment to thank them in a way that is personal to them, you’ll find it much easier to develop long-term relationships.
Don’t worry if you’ve lost contact with somebody. Now is the time to reconnect with them. While you’re in the networking mood, ask existing connections if they know anybody else who might be interested in your cause. It never hurts to ask!
Donations should never be a one-off. When you receive a donation, make that person feel special and nurture the relationship, not just a donor-recipient relationship, but as friends. After all, you will believe in the same causes and will have mutual interests you can regularly speak about.
Communications. Review your communications across every channel, both online and physical. Look at the frequency of your content output and the message you’re trying to convey. Is your core message as strong as it could be? Are you utilising the right social media channels? If you are collecting for a large school, the Facebook page might be an untapped avenue of communication where people who have never met each other can connect. A small school, on the other hand, might have a closer-knit group of people where you’ll benefit more from speaking to them in person, at PTA events for instance.
Events. Halloween and BBC Children in Need are held in October, while you could also use National Bullying Prevention Week as a reason to spread a positive message and fundraise.
Asking. Now isn’t the time to ask as the school term has only just kicked off. Hold on until December, which is traditionally a time of giving when the festive season is in full swing.
Network. It’s almost time for you to show your network just how much you love them! Now is the time to get ahead and plan who you will send Christmas cards too, which will be significant people within your network and others who you want to be more involved. Make sure you send cards and presents out in late November ahead of Christmas fair invites. These cards, however, shouldn’t ask for anything. Instead, they should be a simple ‘thank you’ for the recipient being involved.
Communications. We’re now into the time of year when events and face-to-face communications take centre stage. It’s a busy time of year, but you need to combine actual conversations with potential donors and people in your network, with regular online communications, whether that’s on social media or via email.
Events. The biggest events during November are Bonfire Night and related firework displays, which are two excellent opportunities to network and fundraise. You might choose to hold your own event and advertise it online. Just imagine enjoying your own organised event while everyone is enjoying the comfort of being wrapped up warm, while the cold air bites and the flickering bonfire roars!
Asking. If you have a target to reach by the end of the year, now is the perfect time to let people know as you begin that final push. You’ll need to tell them what you need and why you need it through clear, concise communications. Hopefully, by this time of the year, your network with be sufficient enough for you to meet your target with time to spare, especially with December on the horizon and all the fun that the festive season brings!
Network. December is a great time for getting everyone in your network together under one roof. Go Crazy! Host a Christmas play, concert or party. Show some goodwill and invite your whole network. The feelings between parents, teachers, children and those all-important donors will be mutual as the kids are up on stage performing or the party you’ve hosted has been a success!
Communications. December can be non-stop. It’s a busy month so make sure you delegate and try not to do it all yourself. If you are working by yourself, it’s best to start as early as possible. Take a long, deep breath and plan as much as you can. But, remember not to panic, it’s nearly time for the Christmas break when you can take a step back and relax. With the holidays on the horizon as a reward, this final push might seem daunting, but it’ll be worth it when you are enjoying a break during the festive period.
Events. The type of event you hold will depend on your past experience as an event organiser. If you’re an expert, you might choose to hold a fair and invite a local band along to play. Raffles are always great ways of getting people to donate, and because you’re well into the festive period, you might want to get and events license and serve alcohol as people start to let their hair down! Consider something like a photo booth where you can gather email data and then send the final photos to your database. However, you should do your maths and make sure you are going to make a profit and that you have a clear way for people to donate as they enjoy the event.
Asking. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Use this face-to-face time with people to be bold and, once your event is over and it’s been a success, make sure you follow up with an email - including a gallery of photos of course! People like mementoes, they’re your chance to make a firmer connection with your network and develop those all-important, long-term relationships.
You can help other schools around the UK get on the road to success too by sharing our 2018 guide with them! If you need some more fantastic fundraising ideas for your school, head on over to our Inspiration and Ideas for Schools page which is jam-packed with exciting content that will help you reach your fundraising targets while having plenty of fun.
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