Our Easter challenge raised eight times our target

To fulfil the ambitious aim of building an all-purpose outdoor learning area and buying 60 new laptops, Lakefield CofE Primary School turned to our PTA for funding support. The school wanted to extend outdoor learning for the infants, making use of the natural environment. It was also keen to provide all junior pupils with one-to-one access to a laptop as they progressed through the school, to support and nurture children’s development and reduce the digital divide.

The cost of the two projects was £16,000, so the PTA set a £10,000 target for the first year. Our first activity was an Easter sponsorship challenge, with a fundraising target of £1,000. This was something we hoped all pupils would get involved in by challenging themselves to learn a new skill, or pursue something they enjoy over the Easter holidays.

None of us in the PTA were particularly tech savvy, but we agreed that an online platform would help gain more traction. We chose InvestMyCommunity because it was easy to use and offered linked individual sponsorship pages. It only took a couple of hours to set up the challenge online, and it was very straightforward for pupils (with support from parents) to set up their own pages. This allowed them to provide updates on their progress, plus people could donate to them in a matter of seconds. We also used the IMC leaderboard facility, which introduced a competitive element, with instant updates on how much pupils were raising and who was raising the most.

In total, 75 families rose to the challenge, completing a whole range of activities. These included a 5K run, learning to say hello in a different language every day, a sponsored Makaton-athon (where two pupils learnt five new Makaton signs each day), selling artwork, 500 kickboxing kicks and 20 laps round the garden. The leaderboard winner was a pupil who raised more than £2,100 by completing a 30K cycling challenge.

To our amazement, the challenge raised £8,083 (plus Gift Aid) online! We also raised £1,536 through paper-based sponsorship and, with additional donations, our total reached £13,000. Since the fundraising load was spread amongst the pupils, there was very little for the PTA to do and the engagement was fantastic.

The timing certainly helped – the Easter break gave pupils a chance to join in, even if they were away for part of the holiday. Using IMC enabled the campaign to take off on social media, as we could share our activities with a wider audience, and we had people donating from around the world!

A couple of parents got very competitive over the leaderboard (and that certainly helped augment the total!) but actually this became an event that everyone wanted to be part of and there was a strong sense of support and community. The pupils got a huge sense of achievement from their success in making things happen as we were able to buy all the laptops straight away, while the outdoor learning area was installed during the summer holidays.

  • Nickee Susan, former chair of Lakefield PTA, Lakefield School (208 pupils), Frampton on Severn, Gloucestershire

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