How to generate income for your school through fundraising

SBLs know how important it is to generate income for their schools –  and fundraising is one of most impactful ways of doing it. So, how can you become a fundraising pro?

Around £1.8bn is collectively amassed by schools in England through income generation activities. However, only two per cent of school leaders feel like they have the resources needed to raise extra funds.

Grant funding still remains the traditional way of generating funds for schools, but this is often an unpredictable and unreliable source. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, and the impact it has had on national grant funders, it has become even more unpredictable and unreliable. So, is there a better approach?

Well, one thing the pandemic has taught us is the power of the technology. We’ve already relied on our digital devices more than ever over the last 18 months, and our increasing use of our ‘phones, laptops and tablets is here to stay. Schools need to adapt to this change and use their school websites and social media as two of their key platforms for fundraising too.

How you can use your website

  • Create an ‘Our Fundraising’ tab.
  • Facilitate online donations and gift aid forms.
  • Include downable ‘key facts’ about each project you are asking for funding for.
  • Demonstrate the impact each donation will have.

How you can use social media

  • Post regular updates to keep supportive people involved and informed.
  • Create short campaign videos which include the children.
  • Use hashtags to build momentum and interest which parents can use too.

The key foundations of successful fundraising

  • It’s a team sport – parents and pupils are your best ambassadors, so get them involved as much as you can.
  • Take it to the highest level – get your headteacher and governors involved; the higher you can take it, the more income you will raise.
  • Make a clearly strategised plan – integrate whole school development into the plan, prioritise greatest need and impact, and identify quick wins you can make.
  • Not all projects are made equal – identify which ones may be slower burners and make longer-term plans for these. Identify which stakeholders are most important for each individual project and don’t use the same strategy for every project – take each one as it comes and create a bespoke plan for each of them.

Appying for grants or funding

Almost 30% of National Lottery Awards for All applications are rejected at the first stage of the process due to rushed applications, lack of real thought and poor planning. According to the National Lottery the main reason applications are rejected is due to “failing to show how the lives of beneficiaries will be improved.” So, what can you do to ensure your application isn’t in that dreaded 30%?

  • Understand the eligibility criteria – how do you clearly meet their priorities? Do your research!
  • Evidence the need for the funding – use a pilot project, letters of support or a video.
  • Provide both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data can include information about what people think/feel/experience etc., about your project. Quantitative data should include information that you gather through your monitoring about things you can count, such as the number of people attending.
  • Demonstrate value for money – show the grant funders how their money will be utilised effectively.

What are funders looking for?

  • Community.
  • Need.
  • Consultation.
  • Evidence.
  • Sustainability.
  • Legacy.

Show them what they’re looking for

You can demonstrate the above factors through a two-page Case for Support which should enable you to answer the key questions any donor or grant funder will ask:

  • What you’re planning to do.
  • Why you’re doing it.
  • How you’re going to make it happen.
  • Impact on users/beneficiaries.
  • Evidence this is needed.

Make sure this tells a story – everyone loves listening to stories, and grant funders are no different! Use case studies, videos, and write from the heart to grab their attention and make your bid memorable.

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