Facing your fundraising challenges and coming out stronger than before

PTAs Fundraising
27 May 2020
Kerry-Jane Packman
Kerry-Jane Packman is Executive Director of Programmes, Membership and Charitable Services and an accomplished fundraiser with over 20 years’ experience of working within the charity sector driving successful funding operations and generating income from multiple sources. 
The world has been turned upside down by coronavirus — this includes the world of fundraising. Not only will large charities take a hit financially but also the smaller and local charities that contribute significantly to their communities.

For PTAs, much of this will come from the cancellation of annual fundraising events like the summer fair. 

I truly believe however that with challenge comes opportunity for growth. Now is not the time to despair, but to embrace the change and give different types of fundraising a go — one great example is applying for grants. 

Grant funders come in many different shapes and sizes with no one-size-fits-all approach and applying for grants takes an investment of time and energy to plan and write a winning application. On the plus side, the rewards can be incredible, with significant sums of money allowing the execution of major projects or securing the future of activities. 

In normal circumstances, it can take as long as six to 12 months from when you submit an application to hearing that you have been successful and getting the funds into your bank account. But faced with a new reality, the corona virus is prompting grant makers to change course. Although many funds are being diverted to support small and local charities responding to the pandemic, there are still a wide number of grants available, and now is the perfect time to dip your toe in the water.

Where to look

As part of your PTA membership by Parentkind, you have free access to fundsonline.co.uk where you will be able to access a full list of funding opportunities. Here are a few examples:

  • Persimmon Homes – a £1 million scheme supporting children’s health, sport and education and arts. 
  • Halifax Foundation NI – great if you are based in Northern Ireland and fundraising for a project directly supporting Covid-19.
  • Warburtons – providing small community grants.

Where to start 

The change in the way we fundraise is inevitable. So if you are ready to embrace new ways of fundraising in your PTA – here are my top six tips to taking the plunge and making that application for funding less cumbersome. 

  1. Think about your needs before you start thinking about what grants are available — Hold a brainstorming session and make a list of all of the things your PTA would like to do, if only it had the money. Make it a living list that’s accessible to all committee members and the school so it can be added to and refined as new needs arise and old ones subside. Use this list to inform your decisions about which grants you want to apply for.
  2. Specify a realistic and clear budget relevant to your project — The budget should explain how the money will be spent on the project. Include all the relevant costs, and if possible, show how you determined the costs. Remember to include things like insurance, utilities and legal fees. 
  3. Check out ALL the exclusions and eligibility criteria for a funder – read their website and any guidelines they provide BEFORE you start any application. Be sure your project or charity fits. It’ll save you a lot of wasted time!
  4. Always give the funder what they want — If the funder has a set process for applications, follow it. Make sure you provide every piece of information they ask for. Check that you’ve completed the form correctly before you send it, otherwise it may be returned or rejected.
  5. Be positive and human in your application — Talk about what will happen when you get the money using positive language. This will help the funder feel confident that you can make a difference. It also helps you show that your project does not begin and end with this application. Try to include case studies of people you have helped or plan to help. This lets you show the impact of your work.
  6. Persistence can really pay off — If you don’t get a grant from a funder the first time, it may be that they’re nervous about investing in a new charity. Sometimes you have to apply two or three times before they decide to fund you. On average only one in five to one in 10 grant applications are successful, so don’t just apply to one or two grant makers.

There’s lots of money out there, and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to get a share of it. You do, however, need to be organised and clear about what you want. What have you got to lose? 

Good luck and do let us know how you get on.