It’s easy to see why school fundraising matters. It is often only associated with generating additional income. Whether it’s raising funds for extracurricular activities at your school, or even raising money for charities, the focus (quite rightly!) is often rooted in the amounts raised.

But fundraising is an excellent opportunity to build closer working relationships with your communities, be that press, parents, students or local partners. Activities undertaken can create wonderful news for your school, shining a light on the positive attitudes your students have, the encouraging and caring environment you create, and how you ensure your students develop into active, positive members of society.

In truth, there’s so much more that you can do to promote your fundraising efforts – not only will it inevitably have an impact on the amount raised, but it can have wide ranging effects on areas including parental engagement, PR, and admissions.

School Fundraising Matters

Today, it’s possibly more important than ever before to consider the impact that fundraising can have for your school or academic trust. The cost-of-living crisis and economic instability has meant many schools and trusts across the country are struggling to maintain levels of service delivery, with some unable to fund things like extracurricular activities or wraparound care.

And, while many might claim government funding is higher than originally forecast, it still falls well below previous levels when looked at in real-terms. A recent IFS report found that total education spend in the UK now represents just 4.6% of national income – a significant drop from the levels recorded in the late 2000s.

It’s no surprise, then, that many have been relying on fundraising to generate additional income for some time now. In fact, research from 2017 was already highlighting an increase in primary schools turning to fundraising initiatives as a way of responding to “depleting budgets and intensified performance pressures.”

And while the focus on these fundraising activities is, naturally, the amount of money raised, the opportunities that they can present go much further. The same research also highlighted the importance of committing the right people and skills to fundraising initiatives, helping schools to create a positive narrative that can “attract significant philanthropic support, which can be transformative for the school community.”

In this blog, we take a look at the role of fundraising in schools, and how the campaigns your school or trust runs impacts not just yourselves and your students, but your parents and local community, too. Most importantly, we’ll explore how you can alleviate your fundraising campaigns to boost parental engagement, community relationships, and admissions, as well as your finances.

How Fundraising Can Enhance Parental Engagement

Engaging parents in fundraising can help your school to make big strides. This should go beyond merely asking parents to contribute to fundraising activities, such as £1 donations for non-uniform days.

Parents should feel like school fundraising matters. They have a larger influence over activities, whether they are running the event themselves, or helping schools to generate a larger audience.

Consider how your school can engage with parents in a closer, more collaborative way. For instance, you may be able to build closer relationships with your PTA by running fundraising campaigns in partnership with them, rather than relying on them to make up your audience. Not only will they feel more valued, but they will likely have a better insight into how to engage and encourage other parents to participate than you will.

For example, St Mary’s Broughton Gifford Primary School in Wiltshire worked closely together with their PTA to put together a fundraising campaign to raise money for the Disaster Emergency Committee for the Ukrainian Humanitarian Appeal. Together, they raised £250 at a bake sale, and celebrated the wonderful work of their PTA in a Facebook post.

By collaborating with their parent community, parents not only felt more involved in their child’s school, but they, the school, and the students were able to make a difference and help support a worthy cause – giving parents confidence that the school provides a fantastic environment and influence for their children.

Working With Your Local Community

The relationships your school has with the local community can make a massive difference to the success of your fundraising initiatives, as well as the reputation your school builds for itself.

Many schools in the UK rely on donations in the local community or beyond to undertake certain work, such as new IT, music or sporting equipment. However, it’s worth noting that many appeals or fundraisers for school equipment are far more likely to succeed if your school has established a good reputation, and a positive role in the community.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, The White Horse Federation ran a ‘Donate a Device’ campaign, appealing for organisations in their communities to support their students’ in their home learning by donating IT equipment such as laptops and smart devices.

To boost awareness of the campaign, then-CEO of the Trust, Dr Nicholas Capstick OBE, took part in a podcast interview with Trading through Coronavirus and Business West.

The campaign was a huge success, generating a huge number of donations from various businesses. The response enabled the Trust to effectively support students across their 30+ schools to continue learning from home through a particularly difficult period.

Go Beyond School Fundraising

Crucially, the fantastic work that was achieved through this campaign extended far beyond the number of devices donated. The Trust received a significant amount of positive publicity for their commitment to ensuring each and every pupil at their schools was given the opportunity to continue learning, regardless of the extensive challenges that this posed.

They were able to build close relationships with numerous businesses, and their parental community was reassured about the steps the Trust was taking to ensure their children were being supported at a time when they needed it more than ever.

For some schools in the Trusts, these partnerships went even further – Devizes School and Sixth Form partnered with PricewaterCoopers, a business with offices in Reading, to provide students with career experience as well as a donation to improve gym equipment.

Improving Admissions through Fundraising

It might not be the most obvious link, but successful fundraising can have a significant impact on admissions at your school when handled correctly.

Let’s consider the main things a parent looks for when selecting a school for their child. Quite apart from things like location and academic success, other key factors also include the environment the school creates for its pupils, and the core values and beliefs that it promotes in life outside of the classroom.

Soft skills, such as people skills and emotional learning, can make a radical difference to students’ lives, and it is something that parents are acutely aware that their children may be lacking as a result of reduced socialisation opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s crucial your school is able to showcase the role you are playing in developing these skills in your students, and fundraising activities are a fantastic way of doing so.

Get your students involved in organising and facilitating fundraising events. Discuss with them the causes that they would like to support and why, and give them the opportunity to learn more about their role in society. It could be researching charities, or even visiting local charities or organisations for first-hand experience.

However you approach it, make sure to shout about it! By creating a compelling and emotive marketing campaign showcasing the work your school is doing outside of the classroom, you’ll be building up a positive reputation in your local community and with parents – all of which can have a huge impact when it comes to admissions.

Make the Most of Your School Fundraising Activities

As we have seen, fundraising activities can be an excellent tool for schools looking to boost finances, parental engagement, and admissions – often while making a difference in their community!

To achieve these results, however, schools and trusts need to make sure that their communication strategy is working for them. Without an effective and targeted strategy, many schools can find their efforts wasted and the results of their fundraising lacklustre.

Any fundraising marketing campaign needs to target the right audience, engage them on a high – often emotive – level, and convert that engagement into action. Your audience needs to feel like a valued partner or member of your community, and the way in which you communicate will determine how successful you are at this.

So how do you do it?

Delivering a compelling and rewarding marketing campaign takes a broad range of expertise and experience, and here at Eduprise, we have a wealth of experience helping schools and trusts ensure their campaigns are successful, time and time again.

Working with us, you can access a fully fledged marketing team at a fraction of the cost, so whether it’s engaging your parent community or promoting activities in the local community, we’re here to help. Take a look at our services page today, or get in touch for an informal chat.