Audit your fundraising

Carrying out a fundraising audit is an effective way to gauge success and identify future income sources. Here, Lindsey Marsh, author of The School Fundraising Handbook, shows you how

The fundraising plan

A good fundraising strategy should align with your school improvement plan and include a wish list of resources and projects you want to prioritise. It should set goals and outline activities for the year so that you have a clear direction and timescale for fundraising activity. How effective is your current plan? Are you regularly monitoring progress and making adjustments where necessary?

People potential

People are your most important resource for fundraising - and you have many groups to draw on, from parents and PTA/ Friends groups, to enterprising current pupils, staff, alumni, governors and trustees. Look at how you involve these groups currently. Identify what works well and look for untapped reservoirs of goodwill and skills. Do you have a talented manager or teacher who could bring in revenue by speaking at events or providing training? Could students set up a fundraising club?

Going forward:

  • Map out which stakeholder groups you can match with particular types of fundraising. If you create a range of opportunities (volunteering, supporting events, nominating your cause, networking on your behalf, and so on) you will appeal to a wider range of interests. Start by talking to people and making connections.
  • Develop a database of go-to helpers, skills and expertise.
  • Look out for individuals with a passion for making things happen and those with specialist skills, such as bid-writing, PR or design. The key to successful fundraising is to capitalise on opportunities and think in enterprising ways. If fundraising is not your core role or your forte, consider bringing on board a part-time or volunteer coordinator. Stay aware of the latest rules and regulations on data collection.

Assess your assets

Review whether you have explored all the options for letting your school facilities, building and grounds. Depending on your school and location, you may be able to generate revenue from your hall, sports facilities, drama studio, school field or car park. External companies, such as Bookings Plus, can save you time and money by managing all aspects of lettings.

Grant funding

Schools can apply for all sorts of grants for therapeutic services, literacy, arts and sports, as well as for extended services such as breakfast and after-school clubs, and specialist support (see our grants database).

Going forward:

  • Work with your PTA or Friends' group to develop a database of emerging opportunities your school may be eligible for, including application dates. If your school or PTA is a registered charity, and if you have a large number of students who are disadvantaged, you will be able to apply for more grants. Ensure you have key data - such as pupil premium and FSM - to hand.
  • Research opportunities for students, parents, teachers and other organisations to apply for grants to help fund work in schools. For example, the Let Teacher's SHINE competition.

Review your resources

Create and regularly update an inventory of school resources that could be used to fundraise. Include items such as books, arts and crafts materials, digital and theatre equipment, gardening tools and produce, and unclaimed items from lost property.

Identify whether you could:

  • use items for events
  • sell any items you don't need
  • hire out equipment

Going forward:

  • Add to your inventory resources your school could potentially access at no cost. Include equipment and facilities your PTA, local council, other schools, charities and businesses have to offer, such as bicycles you could hire for sponsored events, or venues such as a trampoline park.
  • Look into raising money from old or used resources. For instance, you can recycle old printer ink cartridges and toners with Empties Please and receive cash for used UK and foreign postage stamps and cameras from Recycling for Good Causes. Consider setting up a recycling bank with TerraCycle, which specialises in recycling the 'non-recyclable'.

Fundraising events and activities

Assess effort versus income for key activities in your fundraising strategy over the past year. Identify what has worked well and why, and use this success as the cornerstone for your future strategy.

Going forward:

  • Look at how to build on your achievements. Turn to FundEd and PTA+ Magazine for ideas. Identify curriculum-related fundraising opportunities that will bring teaching staff on board and help you meet you SIP targets, such as sponsored spelling bee competitions and readathons.
  • Consider initiatives that keep on giving, such as tuck shops, lotteries, raffles, school merchandise, loyalty card schemes and vending machines. Plan to boost fundraising efforts with campaigns across the school to create competition and fun for pupils - schemes such as Cash4Coins and Bag2School, and supermarket token or voucher schemes all work well.

Identify opportunities for giving

Look at what you currently have in place and assess how well it is working in relation to your wish list and longer term fundraising.

Going forward:

  • Consider how to attract and retain potential supporters and donors Find out how to build a supporter base in the next issue of FundEd.
  • Set up opportunities for people to make donations (one-off or regular), or perhaps leave a gift in their will. Consider approaching employers about setting up a payroll giving scheme, which enables people to donate from their gross salary before tax. Assess the potential for supporters to donate unwanted shares through ShareGift. Bear in mind that ShareGift's usual donation to a nominated charity is around £500, so income from shares may not feed through until enough people have donated enough shares.
  • Check easy wins. Do you have donation buttons on your school website? Is your PTA claiming Gift Aid on eligible donations? Are you earning commission through affiliate schemes, search engines and shopping platforms? Are you using crowdfunding sites for your wish list campaigns? Have you registered with sites such as eBay for Charity?

Wider partnerships

Review how well you are currently utilising the fundraising potential in your community. Is there the opportunity to do more?

Going forward:

  • Use your wish list to identify what you want to achieve, who you want to approach and how you are going to raise awareness. Businesses can support your school through sponsorship, employee volunteering, product donations, free consultancy or free use of facilities. Improve your chances of success by asking for help during off-peak periods or linking with initiatives businesses are involved with (such as joining with a solicitors' firm during the Free Wills Month campaign in October.
  • Explore other options. Could you talk to shopping centres about fundraising on their premises? Are you working with sports clubs, Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs to develop fundraising opportunities? Could local dancing groups and slimming clubs hold raffles on your behalf?

Benchmarking

You are no doubt already buying strategically and trying to save money where you can (see Procurement Dos and Don'ts in the next issue of FundEd for more tips). You can make comparisons on your overall balance of income and expenditure with other schools by using the government's financial benchmarking scheme. This helps you gauge how well your resource allocations are working and whether you can make improvements by doing things differently. See also gov.uk/guidance/schools-financial-efficiency-financial-benchmarking.

Similarly, you can benchmark your fundraising progress using the framework of this audit. It can help you assess how well you are utilising current opportunities, and assist you in identifying areas for growth. It can also be used as a tool for gauging your success in comparison to other schools across a range of fundraising categories, and for collaboration on challenges and ideas. Good luck!

Fundraising plan

Identify your fundraising priorities for the year and put together a wish list of resources and projects.

People: Review how you attract and retain supporters - and what works well. Develop ways for people to help. Keep an up-to-date database of go-to people and their skills, expertise and interests.

Assets: Review the effectiveness of your lettings policy by looking at effort versus income. Explore how to generate more bookings. Consider working with external lettings platforms to manage lettings in a more cost- and time-effective way.

Grants: Keep an up-to-date database of grants your school is eligible for, as well as additional funding that supporters and staff (teachers, PTAs or external partners) can access. Monitor deadlines, and keep a record of applications and outcomes. Identify what you can do to improve outcomes.

Resources: Keep an up-to-date inventory of school resources you can use for fundraising. Add to this a list of free resources you can borrow. Research recycling fundraising opportunities and promote these schemes.

Events and activities: Assess the success of your fundraising activities over the year (using effort versus income) and look over event evaluations to identify areas for improvement.

Opportunities for giving: Actively promote a variety of fundraising streams, such as online affiliate schemes, crowdfunding and in-school fundraising. Identify new ways to increase income, such as eBay for Charity.

Wider partnerships: Network with local businesses and reach out to groups and individuals in the community. Invite them to support your project (through sponsorship, employee volunteering, payroll giving, grants, in-kind support, raffles, etc.)

Benchmarking: Review all the ways you can save time, money and resources. Do a workload audit to identify ways to help you save time. Look at the government's schools financial benchmarking service. Use this fundraising audit to compare your activities to that of other schools. Identify new ideas and approaches that could improve your success.

  • Lindsey Marsh is the author of The School Fundraising Handbook, which she wrote after fundraising for two schools. She has also worked as a charity fundraiser and CSR co-ordinator.

 

More from Lindsey Marsh