Fundraising for school activities is nothing new. Only now with the pressures of workforce reform and initiatives such as extended schools and specialist status, many schools are reviewing the way they have to raise funds.

What’s more, for the first time in history:

  • – the average school building is over 25 years old;
  • – around 90% of school costs are for staffing.

One typical primary school has seen dramatic changes over the past five years both in what it raises funds for and how it does it. Originally the odd jumble sale or low key summer fete would raise cash for the ‘icing on the cake’ items – resources that the school budget wouldn’t stretch to.

But more recent years have seen a larger scale approach to bigger projects – an adventure playground costing £16,000 was the first. This required a different approach with applications for grant aid being the main focus. With the move to multi-year budgets, the school is planning a less ad hoc approach to fundraising and the production of a school funding strategy that identifies areas of enrichment.

Some state schools have taken the decision to set up a development office, though this is already common practice within private schools. With a growing need for highly trained people who can lead fundraising campaigns, training in this area is proving popular.

Raising money from grants is hard work, though it can be made easier if you know where to look and how to apply. The task of raising money often involves the governors, the PTA, the bursar, the school secretary and teaching staff. Since the structures in place vary between schools, it is always worth considering the strengths and weaknesses of your current structure(s). The table below outlines typical strengths and weaknesses of some common structures.

Each school has access to different levels of expertise when it comes to knowing where to look for grants and how to prepare high quality applications. The governing body plays an important role in managing the school budget and is often well versed in the reality of budget deficits. So it’s no surprise that many schools have opted to train one of their governors in the art of fundraising.

The Certificate in School Fundraising is an online accredited course showing schools how to apply to the lottery, charitable trusts and the government. Over 250 governors, bursars, heads and admin officers have completed the course. As a result, schools have raised money to redevelop outdoor space and playgrounds, fund out of school activities and minibus provision, increase ICT and whiteboard equipment and achieve sponsorship for specialist status.

The six week course is delivered via the Internet and costs £399, including all course materials, tutor support and accreditation.

Louise Germaney is the course leader of the Certificate in School Fundraising. To find out about entry requirements, course modules and dates, call her on 0191 276 3283 or visit www.fundraisingskills.co.uk

Pippa Randolph, clerk to governors at Trafalgar Infant School, Twickenham, describes why she decided to enrol on the Certificate in School Fundraising course:

‘The head of our school saw the need for a more professional approach to tap funding. She particularly wanted to upgrade the play and sports facilities and environmental study areas on our crowded Edwardian site. I did the Fundraising Skills course with a member of school staff so that the two of us could link the school management team’s aspirations with the “wish list” of the teaching staff and our wider school community.

‘The online course took a couple of hours a week. Our tutor led us through lesson plans, tasks and helpful synopses of reading material and was always an email away to help with queries and give us feedback. We exchanged and compared ideas and experiences with other schools on the message board.

‘The programme of work was designed to help us find out for ourselves how to access information and write effective bids, targeted at the relevant funding organisations. With our new skills we feel much more confident about attracting funds for our projects – once our PFI refurbishment is completed we can really press ahead!’

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