'As a school with a relatively high number of pupil premium children and pupils eligible for free school meals, we work hard to maximise every space and ensure our pupils have access to brilliant facilities. We used to have a caretaker's flat, which is no longer occupied, so five years ago Camden Council offered the funds to develop the space into a STEAM lab. This large project, finished to a high standard, was completed earlier this year.
The lab was created at no cost to the school, but we still needed to find the money for equipment. We're careful with every penny we spend, which meant we needed to find means outside of the school funds. We already hold a number of charity events throughout the year, and we weren't able to find an appropriate grant, so one of our governors suggested crowdfunding and offered to find out more about it.
Even the word "crowdfunding" horrified me, but he got in touch with DonateMySchool to find out how it worked and I was soon convinced. Up until then, we had usually managed to raise around £500-£600 at a time, but we decided to set a target of £3,000, which was ambitious but still manageable in terms of crowdfunding. It's definitely important to set realistic targets, and, if you are fundraising for a bigger project, to break it down into manageable chunks.
The lab was due to open in January. We began crowdfunding before Christmas so that we could use the imminent grand opening to generate a sense of urgency. Announcing it before the holidays meant people could pass on the message to their friends and family over the festive break.
The campaign was promoted via our school website, newsletters and parent texting service with daily bulletins. We also created fliers, which we downloaded from our DonateMySchool page, and these were distributed by our supporters.
The campaign worked really well and was easy to run. The page was simple to set up, and we included a video of the pupils, which really helped to encourage donations. We were able to call DonateMySchool at any point if we had questions, which was fantastic. We didn't have a big network of supporters in place already - just parents, governors, volunteers and some businesses. We try to limit how often we ask parents for money so that when we do it's likely to be more successful.
Partway through the month-long campaign we held the lab's grand opening. As well as enabling us to celebrate the lab and raise awareness, it meant parents could come in to see for themselves how important this space was, which made them want to give more.
We beat our target, raising a total of £3,120, which has now been spent on a variety of equipment for the lab, including cookers and science equipment.
The children are very excited by the lab and the teachers now want to make use of the space and see what they can do to make the lesson worthy of the room!
Crowdfunding was much easier than I thought it would be, and I would do it again. Our STEAM lab is a really valuable space for our school and will inspire children and teachers for years to come.'
Jemima Wade, headteacher, Argyle Primary School, King's Cross, London (380 pupils)