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