Make crowdfunding count

Crowdfunding needn’t be daunting – just set yourself a realistic target and timeframe, and share your campaign far and wide…

One of the biggest pitfalls of crowdfunding is overambition. Before beginning a crowdfunding campaign it’s important to ensure it’s achievable. Always consider the size and means of your supporter base, as well as the time and resources you can realistically give to promoting the campaign.

If you have a larger project, the target can be broken down into steps and approached through a variety of fundraisers. Here, we profile Argyle Primary School and Hill View Primary Academy – two examples of where setting realistic goals for crowdfunding has paid off.

‘We raised £3,120 to buy equipment for our council-funded STEAM lab’

'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)

‘We crowdfunded for one of 22 new smartboards’

‘Our school’s 22 smartboards are in desperate need of replacement, so we’re currently in the process of tackling the £48,000 task of buying new boards for every classroom, which will greatly improve the children’s everyday learning. As it’s such a big project, we’ve been approaching it in steps. We decided to crowdfund for just one board, with a target of £1,872.

We’d crowdfunded before, so knew it was something that worked for us. RocketFund was recommended to us and the set-up was very quick and easy. We included a video of pupils to demonstrate the need and the good the money would do.

We didn’t have a big network of supporters to begin with, but we used our Facebook page, which has a following of about 670 people, to promote the campaign. We also used the school newsletter and Classlist.

Rocket Fund offers a ‘rocket boost’ to certain projects, which is where they match-fund the first £250 a project raises, and we were lucky enough to be one of the schools to receive this.

The response to the project was slow to begin with, but we built momentum with regular updates on social media, including how much had been pledged so far and how much time was left. Our school uniform supplier pledged £200, which was a big boost. We offered messages of thanks to donors from teachers and pupils, or via the school newsletter.

In the end, we raised £1,225, which wasn’t our full target but equates to two-thirds of a smartboard. This will enable us to buy one much sooner and will benefit current and future pupils.’

Lisa Philogene-Jones, PTFA chair, Hill View Primary Academy, Bournemouth, Dorset (654 pupils)

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