‘We were eager to improve our outdoor play and activity spaces for the wellbeing of our children at Cawston Grange Primary School. This being our first fundraising project of such magnitude, we knew we had to be strategic. We developed a list of events and activities that would enable us to reach our goal in the shortest possible time. This included existing activities that could be amplified, plus new earners and some serious bid-writing.
Throughout, our mindset was: how can we motivate local businesses, parents and the wider community to get behind us and be enthused to make a significant contribution? We knew getting as many people involved as we could was key, as was a catchy fundraising theme, “Pennies for our Playground”. We advertised to the community, partnered with local shops, invited press and even had a televised feature on Rugby FM.
Textile recycling scheme Bags2School was a real success. We ran competitions in school to see which class could bring in the most bags. It soon became clear that this could be an opportunity for match funding, and a parent who works for DHL secured £1,200, and an Npower parent £500. DHL also provided a collection van so that we could collect from all the homes on our estate. The community enjoyed being involved, and more bags meant more money. In total, we raised just over £3,400 from this scheme. DHL helped us again with a Transform It! grant for £5,000, and we received £10,000 from the National Lottery Awards for All community fund.
Match funding was something we really focused on. We identified national companies who operate schemes and parents who work for them. As well as Npower and DHL, we had volunteers from NatWest, Barclays and Asda, and this raised more than £4,000. We also received £3,000 through parents whose employers run community funding schemes. We produced information packs with guidance on how parents should approach employers.
Our regular PTA activities were key in adding to our profits. Our summer fair raised a record £6,000, while events such as a magic evening, an Easter egg hunt and a movie evening raised over £2,500. We also established a PTA pop-up café, which was set up not only for school events, but community ones too. This raised almost £1,000 through the year, and gave us an opportunity to have face-to-face contact with parents and local community members. In addition, we held a bingo and fizz night at our local community hall, raising a fantastic £1,500 and helping build community spirit at the same time!
Our Christmas raffle is something we run every year, but we decided to make it bigger during the campaign. We sent tickets home in bags with photos of the prizes, sold tickets at our Christmas plays and persuaded the local Co-op to sell tickets at their checkout, raising £1,200 in total. We partnered with the Co-op again at our “Carols at the Co-op” event, where the school choir sang outside the shop while we ran our pop-up café and sold raffle tickets. We also teamed up with the local church to hold a family games night, broadening our community reach.
Beyond the PTA, we asked parents who ran their own businesses if they would be prepared to organise events, with profits going to the playground fund. Several parents were happy to do this – and £1,100 was raised through a family photo shoot, a beauty day, a yoga event and a cake sale. Alongside these bigger earners, all parents could get involved through monetary donations and Easyfundraising.
We involved the pupils as much as possible in the campaign by having individual classes run enterprise schemes, including coffee mornings, music events and Christmas decoration making. The children raised £1,850 in all, and were able to monitor their success by adding their profits to a fundraising thermometer in the school hall. Each class also had a Pennies for our Playground change collection jar. These were weighed every four weeks and the class with the heaviest jar won a prize.
We reached our goal in nine months, which was amazing. At the start of the project, the pupil council chose some equipment options and designed display boards around them. They improved their public speaking skills by presenting these to the school. We had a climbing system, a trim trail and a daily mile track installed by Fawns, who were excellent to work with – I would highly recommend them. They were clean, tidy and efficient while on site and post-sale service has been excellent too. Their pricing is extremely competitive and the equipment has completely transformed lunchtime play.’
Lindsey Walsh, PTA fundraising lead, Cawston Grange Primary School, Cawston, Rugby (410 pupils)