Money for nothing

Passive income streams can be easy to set up, require minimal effort to maintain, and will provide a welcome regular boost to your fundraising activity. Howard Rose explains how...

People are often confused about what passive income is and exactly how it works, but it's actually very simple - and it can make you thousands.

So what is it? In very basic terms, it's a way of having other people working for your school, making money for you 24 hours a day, doing things they are already doing, without any cost to you. Or, as I like to call it, 'free money'!

Previously we discussed how, as a school, you have a valuable database of potential clients that you can use to market to businesses in order to gain sponsorship. Well, all of those parents can also be used as a potential workforce to make money for you. They don't have to change their lifestyle or do anything differently, apart from perhaps making two extra clicks of their mouse, giving a code over the phone or trying a different menu item.

There are hundreds of ways to set up a passive income stream, but you have to decide, as with your partnerships, what is right for you.

Shopping spree

The first place you should start is probably the easiest - an affiliate shopping scheme. This is a great way to raise money for your school just by shopping online. Popular sites include, and Buyers can choose fromthousands of popular online retailers, including Amazon, eBay, John Lewis, Thomas Cook, Expedia, Groupon, Aviva, GoCompare and Tesco, and the restailers will give a donation every time someone buys something, at no extra cost. They just click through to their chosen retailer from the affiliate site, and the retailer will give a percentage of the sale to their chosen charity. For Amazon purchases, you can also register your school or PTA with AmazonSmile (, which works in the same way.

And don't forget that your own school purchases - such as stationery, technology products, travel and accommodation - can all be bought through an affiliate site. We now make around £600 per year just through parents having to make a couple of extra clicks!

Local support

From this basic premise I have been able to expand the idea and look for other companies that either offer a similar deal or would be willing to set something up. For example:

  • Lavender Hall Auto Repairs, a local garage, offers parents £5 off a service and then donates £5 each time to the school.
  • The Saracen's Head, a local bar and restaurant, has a healthy-eating Balsall Common Primary menu item on its menu and every time people order it we get a 50p donation. This doesn't sound like much but over a year this adds up to around £600.
  • CMA Video - we have been making DVDs of the summer and Christmas performances for years and have a good relationship with the supplier but no one ever thought about sponsorship. Now CMA Video has the back page of the DVD selling all of their services and again we get 50p per copy. This is usually around £250 in the summer and the same at Christmas, so another £500 in total over the year.
  • Balsall Common Travel Club - parents can get holiday quotes or make a booking using a dedicated local phone number or via a dedicated link identifying the school as the source. We then get a percentage of any holidays booked.

The following companies offer us similar partnership deals:

  • Borroclub has a deal where parents can choose to donate either 10%, 50% or 100% of their fee to Balsall Common Primary.
  • Utility Warehouse has a community deal where you can offer energy and broadband.
  • Lyconet will pay a percentage of all money spent using one of its cards set up via the school.
  • Vorwerk has sponsored the school PTA but is also looking to set up an arrangement similar to the ones above, so watch this space.
  • Finesse Windows is in talks with us now and will pay five per cent on all sales via the school.

Accrue points

Why not get a school or school-nominated Nectar Card, Shell Card or Tesco Club Card? You would be surprised at how many people do not collect these points - and they do add up. I have set up a school card and left it at the local Shell garage. Parents are then able to ask for their points to be added when they fill up. Sainsbury's and Tesco will not allow this, but you could request extra cards for people to borrow and use for big purchases. As a school, we also shop online every week and have school cards registered.

Another simple idea is to charge companies a small fee for sending out their leaflets in book bags. In schools, we are constantly being asked to hand out leaflets or send them on email via Parentpay or ParentMail. We now charge a fee (£30 each time) for the service, and this regularly brings in over £700 a year - not bad for something we were previously doing for free.

Although they are not huge amounts individually, when put together they start to add up. And that is the real key - it takes very little effort for you to set up multiple income streams.

The examples I have given are based on my own experience but of course there are hundreds more. Search for affiliate programmes online, approach local businesses and ask them to sell an item or service that you endorse. Remember, if it doesn't sell they don't give you any money so there really is no risk to them. Speak to your local sports teams, restaurants, estate agents and solicitors. Show how it has worked in other schools and the positive publicity that can be had. Some businesses would love to start a relationship with a local school but don't know how.

Tip: Search for affiliate programmes online, approach local businesses and ask them to sell an item or service that you endorse. If it doesn't sell they don't give you any money, so there's no risk to them. Show how it has worked in other schools and the positive publicity that can be had
  • Howard Rose is Director of Funding and Publicity at Balsall Common Primary School. He secures grants, sponsorship and support from businesses to enhance teaching and learning.