We’ve listened to the experiences of over 3,000 school staff and found that 19% of schools are planning to increase their fundraising activity in the coming year.
Compare that to our previous research, which found this number to be 20%, and we can see that this is still a key focus for schools. Across both pieces of research, increasing fundraising activity was the most popular area for improving efficiency among surveyed schools.
With fundraising being such an important focus for UK schools, and such an integral part of running a successful school, it’s imperative for schools to be as effective as possible in their efforts.
Our research has enabled us to put the current education landscape under a microscope to foster a deeper understanding of the focuses and priorities of UK schools. It’s formed the backbone for our latest whitepaper, ‘Writing the next chapter in education: How the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way UK schools operate’.
Whether it’s schools raising funds for their chosen charities or parent-teacher associations (PTAs) fundraising for an improved school experience, our research is showing that more and more schools are turning their eye towards this method for collecting income.
Through our own experiences supporting UK charities like Children in Need (where we help schools to donate to the charity through ParentPay), we’ve certainly seen an increase in fundraising activity.
In 2020, 2,269 schools donated to Children in Need through our Donation Pages, raising over £505,000, whereas 2021 saw a huge increase in the number of schools donating; 2,681 schools raising over £716,000.
And the need for PTA fundraising has never been greater (at least in the past few decades). With the BBC reporting a 9% fall in school funding since 2009, the largest cut for 40 years, schools are increasingly forced to rely on other methods of income to be able to make meaningful steps forward in the quality of the education experience that they’re able to offer.
Though the UK government have pledged an extra £4.7bn to schools by 2024-25, it’s expected that this will only do so much as to restore school cash to 2010 levels. Despite this investment, schools will likely need to continue to focus on their fundraising efforts throughout the next few years.
It’s easy to search the internet and find a whole host of articles outlining some great ideas for how your school can raise money, but is there more you could be doing to really maximise your income and be more efficient?
Untangling Gift Aid
The prospect of untangling the web of Gift Aid can seem a daunting and time-sapping task that’s not quite worth the end result. But that’s only if you try to go it alone. There are ways for schools to get help with claiming Gift Aid, and software that will completely automate the process so all you need to do is sit back and reap the rewards.
And the rewards will certainly make a difference for your school. The Government’s Gift Aid scheme adds an additional 25% of funds to all donations made by UK taxpayers to community sports clubs and charities, including schools. This means that all donations on ‘voluntary gifts’ which don’t benefit specific students are eligible for Gift Aid. As such, you can collect additional income on activities such as non-uniform days, sponsored events, building appeals, equipment appeals and more.
While this scheme has been around since the early 1990s, many schools are still missing out on an additional 25% income due to the convoluted process for claiming. But with solutions like ParentPay Donation Pages, all of the headaches go away.
The process? All donations that qualify will automatically be topped up with Gift Aid, so you see an extra 25% without a second thought.
A different type of online school fundraising
Many schools will have been encouraged to move their fundraising efforts online with the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, which has forced many aspects of school life onto the internet.
But by ‘online fundraising’ we don’t mean Zoom talent shows and virtual raffles, we’re talking about new ways to utilise the internet. You’ve probably heard about crowdfunding, but may not have thought to turn to crowdfunding and online shopping for your next fundraising boost.
It’s a powerful tool used by many organisations in many industries to source funding for a variety of projects, ventures, and income. Investors will search crowdfunding platforms for pitches they like and donate their money to that cause with no strings attached.
So why not use it in your school?
It doesn’t have to be a daunting new venture for your school either. With school-specific crowdfunding platforms like DonateMySchool, you can create your fundraising project and share it across the world – anyone can donate! Just be sure to spend time creating a great pitch. Donors and philanthropists choose which pitches they want to support, so make yours stand out.
And it doesn’t stop there. What if every time someone from your school’s community made a purchase when online shopping, a percentage gets automatically donated to your school fund?
With charity shopping sites like easyfundraising, you can do just that.
In partnership with Parentkind, easyfundraising unlocks a whole new avenue for fundraising income for schools and PTAs. Turning everyday spending into free funding, over 5,200 leading retailers are signed up and will give a percentage donation to your school when parents and supporters shop with them – it doesn’t cost your parents or supporters a thing!
Connecting with contributors
Outside of the digital space, what more could you be doing to maximise donations from parents and members of the community?
In their Schools’ Fundraising and Engagement Benchmarking Report, the Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE) found that people are more likely to contribute to a cause when they are engaged with it and involved in the process.
Taking steps to ensure that your potential donors (such as parents and key members of the community) are actively involved in the fundraising planning and process, and are invested in your cause, could do wonders for your fundraising income.
Although it may not be as simple as this. Getting parents involved and engaged isn’t an exact science, and there are many different methods you could embrace to truly get the most out of them. Properly utilising well-thought-out channels and creating a targeted plan which is sympathetic to your budgets will go a long way.
Word of mouth travels fast as well. So having these people truly engaged with your fundraising projects could be a great tool for casting a wider net and encouraging more like-minded people to donate.
Finding a cause that your donors are passionate about will ensure that they’re engaged with your efforts from the get-go. This starts with knowing your pool of donors and choosing something that they really want to give their money to.
With the millennial generation beginning to make up the majority of the parent pool, especially in primary schools, education experts CASE say that this cohort engages with causes, not institutions, highlighting the importance of communicating a meaningful cause.
Whether that’s a specific charity cause or if you’re raising money for something that your parents and pupils really need from your school, picking a cause that really resonates will be great for boosting income.
But picking a great cause isn’t the end of it, you’ll need to let them know about it too. Get creative with how you could advertise to parents and key members of the community; harness your school’s physical space, optimise your school newsletter, or mention these opportunities at parents’ evenings.
If you need help thinking of ways you can engage with parents and community members, read about some ideas for getting parents on board.
Only a step behind
Whether you’re already doing everything we’ve suggested, or if these ideas are all new areas for your school to explore, you’re never more than only one step behind.
There’s a lot that can be done that only requires minor tweaks to the process you’re already running. Whether that’s harnessing Gift Aid, utilising a new channel, or putting a little more thought into choosing your cause, you could see a major influx in income from your fundraising.
And this isn’t the only area that schools are looking to improve upon in the next few years.
From our research, we’ve asked school staff to tell us about how the pandemic has affected how their schools are run and how their operations and process have been fundamentally changed for the foreseeable future… and it’s not all bad news!
In many ways, the pandemic has encouraged schools to take a fresh look at how they’re running their payments, parental engagement, parents’ evenings, and school meals and has empowered them to make changes and investments that will continue to benefit in years to come.
For information on what we found, download your free copy of our whitepaper today: