Fundraising tips for schools

Following his excellent recent fundraising post for Schools Improvement Net (see below), John Ellery is now featured in a Guardian post also looking at the best ways to raise money for your school improvement projects, from grants and awards to crowdfunding and local business partnerships…

Grants and awards

From the Lottery’s Awards for All to supermarkets such as Tesco and Waitrose, foundations and charitable trusts provide schools grants for a range of different projects. Website Grants 4 Schools has an extensive database of organisations which schools can apply to. The Growing Schools website also has information on groups which fund outdoor learning projects.

John Ellery, founder of Ellery Consulting, provides expert advice on how schools can apply for grants. He says there is a misconception that there are limited opportunities for schools to access grants when in fact new and innovative school projects have great potential. However, he adds that while teachers generally have excellent literacy and report writing skills, grant fundraising is a specific skill.

He suggests appointing one member of staff to spend time researching and working with experienced fundraisers or attending training on how best to pitch a their idea.

“As teachers know, practice makes perfect so it helps to submit regular grant applications, further developing competence and therefore improving success rates,” John explains.

“A grant application, however, can only be as good as the project it supports and while it is understandable schools are hesitant to spend time planning and researching speculative projects, it is this lack of detail that regularly concerns grant funders.

Once you have submitted an application don’t take rejection personally, says John. In his experience, a large percentage of schools submit one unsuccessful grant application and give up. But ultimately, he says, it is the fundraisers with the thickest of skins that achieve the most success.

Crowdfunding

If you’ve never heard of crowdfunding, here’s how it works: projects are funded by a collective of people online who pool their money and help steer the direction of the scheme. It’s fast becoming the go-to for those seeking to get new projects off the ground and is a great way to involve the whole community in improving their local school.

According to a spokesman for the Solar Schools project, which helps schools to crowdfund the cost of solar panels, there are already an estimated 700 crowdfunding platforms worldwide. That’s a growth of 60% last year alone.

“We have been organising various school events to raise money and have reached out to local businesses, former students and locals,” said Peter Bell, deputy head of Millbrook Primary School which has raised more than £7,000 under the Solar Schools scheme so far this year.

Other great websites to help you start your own crowdfunding project include the Crowd Funder website or Indiegogo.

Local business partnerships

Many of the schools which entered The School We’d Like competition found initial funding for their projects by teaming up with local businesses.

Harrogate Grammar School plans to set up a one-stop-shop for all the school’s green needs, with carbon free ice-cream supplied by a nearby shop. While Portland Academy in Sunderland was donated £500 from a local business to begin initial work on their idea for a sensory woodland walkway. Another company which was felling trees kindly gave the school tree stumps which will be made into seats for a story corner.

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