PTA fundraising for schools down while volunteer hours increase

28 June 2022
Parentkind’s PTA members jointly raised an incredible £60.8 million for their schools in 2021, new figures* reveal.

However, Covid-19 and the cost of living squeeze seem to have hit fundraisers hard. Although PTAs were resilient and adapted to holding Covid-secure events, overall annual revenue has fallen significantly compared to £79 million in 2020 and £121 million in 2019, before the pandemic.

PTAs estimate to have lost, on average, £4,367 in income in the 2020/21 school year as traditional fundraising events were cancelled due to school closures and coronavirus restrictions. Even post-pandemic, PTAs face the risk of being impacted by the cost of living increase, meaning that families and well-wishers will struggle to donate as much.

In academic year 2020/21, the Christmas fair, usually the most successful event of a PTA’s calendar year, was only the biggest money-spinner for 10%. Instead, almost three in ten (29%) said that a raffle was their top earner, in a drastic reversal since 2019/20. Despite PTA innovations to get around Covid restrictions, more than half (56%) said virtual events were less successful than in-person events, and only 10% said they were more successful, with many parent groups uncertain about holding virtual events in future.

Evidence suggests, however, that while traditional fundraising might be a struggle, parent volunteers are rising to the challenge. New membership figures show that committee members gave more volunteering hours this last year compared to previous years. They now average more than eight hours per week, up from six and a half in 2019. Figures suggest that while financial contributions might be tough during the cost of living squeeze, donating time is on the increase. Parents’ dedication will ensure that they forge a stronger and more engaged school community. Parent volunteers said that their primary roles in contributing to school life were:

  • raising funds or other resources for their school (72%)
  • holding events and other activities to build the school community (63%)
  • enhancing communication between parents and school (66%)
  • helping parents to have a voice at school (70%)

Recognising PTAs’ vital contributions to their schools, especially against a backdrop of trying circumstances, Parentkind held its second annual National PTA Week from 20th to 24th June. Each day celebrated the achievements of parent groups across the UK, paying tribute to their extraordinary contributions to school life. The National PTA Awards categories included champion PTA, changing the life of the school, community initiative of the year, fundraising achievement of the year, new PTA of the year and PTA of the year.

Parentkind CEO John Jolly says, Across the last four years, PTAs have raised an admirable £369 million for our schools. Every penny has gone towards improving the educational experiences of our young people. There is so much inspiring and important work going on among our members that it’s only right that we shout about all of the amazing contributions parent volunteers are making to their school communities. Although PTA revenues are understandably down on pre-pandemic levels, it hasn’t been for want of trying. In fact, committee members are volunteering even more of their time now than they were before the pandemic. Across all our members, we’ve seen an increase of almost two million hours’ worth of volunteering time compared to 2020. It’s against this backdrop that we once again take the time to celebrate their successes.

There are so many ways in which PTAs contribute to the accomplishments of their school. They provide children with access to books and learning resources that can foster a life-long love of reading. They can learn about growing their own food, deepening their appreciation of sustainability when PTAs install kitchen gardens. Trips to educational attractions boost their cultural capital and ground their curriculum learning when they see performances of plays they are studying at the theatre. This week is a chance for parent volunteers to come together and congratulate one another, but of course, the hard work continues to support fundraisers in testing times. This work is vital: until PTAs bounce back from dual challenge of Covid-19 and the cost of living, it will be children who miss out.”

Research methodology and more information

Parentkind Annual Return 2021*

Parentkind invited all PTA members to take part in its Annual Return 2021 survey, which was available online between 12th October 2021 and 3rd April 2022. 530 responses were received out of a membership of 12,476 (in October 2021) across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Not every respondent answered every question.

Read the Parentkind PTA Impact Report 2022.

See more information about National PTA Week 2022.