Raising more by using your community links and skills

PTAs Fundraising Community
06 March 2019
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. 
Having just celebrated my one year anniversary of working at Parentkind, I have a spent some time reflecting on the impact that our PTA members have on schools. Without PTAs, many schools simply couldn’t operate because the money they raise is invaluable.

In 2018, over £108 million was raised by our PTA members across the country; proving how passionate they are about supporting their schools, but also, how incredible their ability to effectively fundraise is. We know that the majority raised is through summer and Christmas fairs, which are both events that are time-consuming to organise, and take a lot of commitment from volunteers. They require more work than there are hours in the day!

With this in mind, and with more far more years under my belt than I care to admit as a professional fundraiser, I thought it might be helpful to share my experience and tips to help you look at other ways to fundraise other than putting on events. By channeling some of your committee’s energy and skills into other opportunities, and using your community for support, there are many more ways to generate returns in the long term. 

Here are my top tips to get you started on non-event fundraising:

1. Create buy in

Sell your PTA committee’s worth to the community by not only telling them, but showing them, what you do and how they can support you in your ventures. 

It’s important to ask yourselves the following questions and prepare the answers in order to be successful — do your local community know who your PTA are and why you exist? Do they know what you do and have you communicated this clearly? Can you demonstrate the difference you’ve made with facts, stories or images? Do your local community know exactly what you need the funds for? And why should they support you rather than another charity? 

By connecting with your local community, you give them a sense of ownership and help them to feel more involved. They are more likely to act as ambassadors for your PTA if they have a greater understanding of your worth. 

2. Know your local community

Think about your local community in broader terms; not just as individuals who will attend your events, but also as funders who are looking to back organisations in a particular geographic area, or because of a shared interest. 

Why not approach companies for sponsorship as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives or research Trusts & Foundations who have local funding schemes? 

Once you have formed relationships, make sure you keep up the good work to maintain them. How well you know and communicate with them will determine how successful your applications or pitches will be.

3. Who knows who matters?

There is a saying that it’s not what you know but who you know’. Of course you need to know what you’re talking about, but who you know is in many ways far more valuable. Mapping out your human networks within your committee may well show a large and diverse network of people and organisations that will be able to bring their own benefits to your fundraising. Remember though, it’s not always in the most obvious networks that the perfect link can appear from. It’s sometimes the people that are outside of your immediate circle that are more likely to facilitate your next fundraising ask. 

4. Range of people, range of skills

Very few people are fundraising professionals, so understanding the skills and expertise in your committee is essential. Do you have anyone with fundraising experience or know anyone who does? If not, why not ask parents in the school? Ideally, all your committee members will exhibit qualities of the fundraiser”, but it’s an idea to elect specific members to focus solely on this role. This member’s responsibility should be to ensure that you are raising funds from the broader local community. 

It probably makes sense to road-test such an approach first. So following this logic above, dip your toe into trust and foundation applications. This can sound very daunting, but once you’ve written a few applications it will get easier. Furthermore a successful trust application could make a big difference, so have a go – you’ve nothing to lose!

If you would like some help with getting started with fundraising from trusts and foundations, you might benefit from our info sheets which can guide you through writing your application and help you identify grant opportunities. 

Click here for our guide to writing a successful grant application.