School fundraising: We raised £130,000 for a MUGA

How Colyton Grammar raised funds for a new MUGA and LED lighting in just one year

Colyton Grammar’s head of development Emma Styles provides a step-by-step breakdown of her school’s campaign

The context

Established in the east Devon countryside in 1546, Colyton Grammar School is a state secondary academy with 1,030 students. In 2016, the school decided to employ a dedicated development officer on a part-time basis in order to generate income to help meet its funding needs. The trustees had seen how effective the development function was in raising funds in the independent sector – and they had the vision to create a pioneering state school equivalent. I was recruited to drive fundraising, communications, alumni relations and to build a culture of philanthropy.

Over the past six years, the Development Office has built a strong working relationship with the Parents’ Association (PA), extended the alumni network and created a culture of giving through a number of campaigns and appeals. We have a regular giving annual fund that all parents are invited to participate in, with a 28% uptake at the moment.

The MUGA appeal

In 2021, we decided to replace the old AstroTurf with a new MUGA all-weather pitch and install new LED lighting. The Raising Our Game appeal was our largest ever, with a goal of generating £130,000 in funding over one year. Being able to draw on the relationships and funding streams we’d developed over the previous five years was therefore extremely helpful.

Case for support

This was built around three main themes:

1 To deliver a safe, modern multi-use games area to replace the old pitch

2 To improve our energy efficiency with new LED efficient lighting for school and community use

3 To make Colyton Grammar School a sports destination for students and community.

We highlighted how health and safety concerns were restricting community use of the old pitch. As we partner with eight local primary schools, we also made the case that having a new pitch would enable these partnership events to carry on. Further, we focused on the wellbeing benefits for our students of having access to lunchtime, club and extra-curricular sports activities.

Our fundraising portfolio


Our student media execs created a campaign video in which they talked to other pupils about how much they used the pitch for lessons, fixtures and recreation. The video explained why the new pitch was needed and how it would be able to host hockey, tennis, football, rugby and cricket.


We provided the Parents’ Association with key messages to ensure communication around the appeal was contiguous. The school shared the story across our community, while the PA backed up our messaging with ‘peer-to-peer’ asks to parents. It was staggering to see the donations come in. The networking success of our PA led to it granting £30,000 to the school.


We scheduled Teams calls to invite alumni to the ‘inner circle’ of fundraising. This resulted in our largest ever alumni gift (of £50,000), alongside legacy promises and interest in future philanthropy.

Business and local government

Together with the third party operator that runs our sports facilities out of school hours, we negotiated with the county council to leverage support from its leisure budget. The council provided £140,000 to support the school in becoming a key community asset providing sport facilities in east Devon. We also launched a corporate sponsorship scheme, resulting in £2,000 in donations plus interest in advertising boards around the new pitch for future revenue.


We used QR codes at school events (including our 475th anniversary celebration) and ToucanTech to capture donations. 

External expertise

With limited budget, time and resources, the Development Office required additional support during the appeal. School fundraising consultants (Juliet Corbett Consulting) helped to provide strategy, planning and guidance. 

Team effort – final push

As we approached the last quarter of the appeal, we realised we would need to close the funding gap by asking parents for their support again. We decided a whole school activity would be a good way to encourage more giving and gain student engagement. The PE department organised an inter-house Neon Walk fundraiser, with a route around the fields of east Devon. Students and staff were encouraged to wear something neon in colour and walk 10km. The online fundraising platform InvestMyCommunity (now known as GoodHub) assisted us in building the event pages, with real-time graphics comparing the level of house donations. Students in the winning house each received a ‘prize’ muffin from the canteen. It was a wonderful summer event for the whole school, raising £7,800 and enabling parents and carers to ‘give again’ and assist us in reaching our appeal total.


The new state-of-the-art sports facility is now installed and well used by delighted students and staff. The students use the new pitch at every opportunity and the popularity of our sports clubs has grown, building better opportunities for students to participate in team sports across the region.

Fundraising has created a real sense of ownership across the whole school community and beyond. We’ve created opportunities for local sports clubs to hire the facility by working with a third party to manage out-of-hours hire. We’re also establishing a maintenance fund over the next 15 years to ensure the next replacement is already part funded.

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