School fundraising success: King Athelstan Primary School's Big Outdoors project

King Athelstan Primary School

King Athelstan Primary School in Kingston upon Thames is an ambitious school. Its Big Outdoors project sees the complete remodelling of the KS1 and KS2 play areas. Such is the size of the campaign, it was decided to break the project into two distinct phases, with the KS2 playground successfully delivered in 2020. A staggering £240,000 was secured by the school, with much of this raised by an impressive PTA and a coordinated effort by the school and the local community.

The next phase, for five- to seven-year-olds, will create spaces for physical, social and mental challenge, as well as enhancing reading, science, drama and core life skills (such as problem solving and team building). It will also include a sensory garden to further develop the Specialist Resource Provision for children with complex social, emotional and mental health needs. This phase will cost in the region of £125,000 and the school is approaching the fundraising in a number of ways.

Phasing a large-scale capital project brings a number of benefits, not least the chance to prove your credibility as a serious fundraiser – if you can successfully deliver the initial phases, you’ll have a positive story to tell grant funders and sponsors. The impact of the first phase KS2 playground development on the children has been significant and the school has tracked their progress. There is qualitative and quantitative data to demonstrate the impact. Grant funders will want to see evidence of need, and proof of expected impact, so the outcomes from the initial phase of work will add real value to funding bids.

The school appreciates the difficulties of asking for donations at this time and continues to host numerous ‘low level’ fundraisers, such as cake sales and non-uniform days. The PTA has completed the Three Peaks Challenge and pupils took part in the mini-London Marathon. These activities have helped to boost the profile of the campaign, with Newsround picking up the story. The school has also recorded a video to bring the project to life and is using its website to enable online donations. Children have been crafting letters to potential business sponsors and local county councillors.

Key takeaways:

  • Acknowledge your supporters! Donors will be motivated by all sorts of different things, but thanking them for their support is a given. A physical donations board on site or a virtual ‘thank you’ on your website will be welcomed by most benefactors. Some may wish to remain anonymous so check first
  • Be realistic and consider multi-phasing larger scale works. This brings a number of benefits and helps deliver some of the project within realistic timeframes. It also helps prevent donor fatigue!
  • If it’s warranted, give serious thought to a promotional campaign video. It takes time and effort but you may have staff or governors who can help. Many funders now allow you to upload video or photos to their sites
  • Get your website to do the hard work and use social media to push out progress updates regularly
  • As a registered charity, a PTA or Friends Association can access funding streams that may be closed to the school. These groups can become a focal point for your campaign efforts.

Further inspiration

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