Diary of a fundraiser - Phil Burton

Phil Burton, SBM at Hallbrook Primary School in Leicestershire, has been practising a ‘new way of thinking’ during his regular runs


This is usually a crazy month for us, with plans for our main fundraising and summer events in full swing. But having reluctantly cancelled our summer camp due to Covid-19, May felt strangely subdued. Our fundraising up to March had been very successful and so we spent time analysing which activities had worked well and how we might be able to make our events bigger and better next year.

We recognised that many parents may have been furloughed and so we didn’t want to ask families for money. We continued to work with the local supermarket, which donates food to the school to support our work with disadvantaged families and also for our breakfast and after-school provision. 

We also did a lot of forward planning in relation to business. I discussed potential opportunities with companies we already work with and those we want to establish new relationships with. As always, I tried to convey the passion we have for developing our school to make it the best it can possibly be for our children – and we had some success in gaining more financial sponsorship to support this aim. While many businesses have been struggling, some – such as cleaning companies – have been very busy, so are well worth a try! 

We also looked at the potential for increasing income from lettings and at whether we could book in people for longer-term lets. I spent time getting familiar with local business forums where people regularly advertise for spaces where they can run their activities. Taking the time to speak to companies and understand how they advertise has helped me understand where to direct my efforts going forward. A number of businesses are interested in hiring our hall once guidance allows. Overall, this will increase the income available for future projects, but in the short term it does not solve the problem of lost income.


In a non-Covid world, June is the month of our village carnival, summer camp and Year 6 leavers event, which together generate around 50% of our fundraising income. This year has been challenging and I have continued to search for alternative fundraising ideas that are virtual, remote or can be performed in a safe way. One activity I came across was virtual balloon racing. We promoted this in school and in the community as a way to try to claw back lost funds and it’s been a great success so far. A clear marketing program was put in place to advertise the event using our social media and it generated around £250.

There are other ideas I want to explore too, for instance Amazon’s book donation scheme, where parents can purchase a book for the school from our wish list in order to refresh our library. I am also looking at whether we could operate a remote quiz to build parental engagement with the school.

The reduction in fundraising means we have had to revisit our spending plans for the year. Some of our proposed works will go ahead but others have been delayed. Following the chatter on Twitter always lifts my spirits and I often pick up good ideas. And, of course, running is a great way to create some headspace for inspiration to flow in.

  • Phil Burton is an advanced level SBM at Hallbrook Primary School in Leicester. He is qualified in HR, leadership and management, and has a wealth of knowledge in project management, fundraising and engagement. @runningsbm


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