In a bid to simplify payments from parents, Holly Lodge Primary School moved onto a cashless system four years ago. This prompted the school’s PTA, Holly Lodge School Association (HLSA), to look at ways they could go cashless too.
Jessica Muirhead, treasurer of HLSA, talks to Parentkind about how this led to them setting up a website with PTA Events – and why they’ve never looked back.
Jessica joined HLSA four years ago when her child moved to the school: “As a working parent, I knew I wasn’t going to be at the school gates that much and I wanted to get involved in school life. Joining HLSA seemed like a great way to feel connected with the school whilst helping out with fundraising activities.”
The paper trail
Communication with parents was done “the old-fashioned way – slips of paper in children’s book bags – and we’d just keep our fingers crossed that our pleas for fundraising support would actually make it home! One of the biggest challenges we faced was relying on children to hand money in for events like school discos.
Jessica tells us that things changed in 2016, when a school receptionist with a child at another local primary school suggested they look into PTA Events – set up by a member of that PTA. He came to a committee meeting and told us about the website: “We’d had a few concerns about how we communicated with parents generally, given data protection laws. It’s not really ideal having information about children’s medical conditions on pieces of paper, but when you’re holding events in a school we have to ask parents to provide this information.
Looking back, I’m not sure how we found the time to send the letters out, chase up people to help out, collate the money and then run the actual events!
“From what we were told about PTA Events, it seemed as though it would resolve many of our issues: it would give us the flexibility to create events online around our working lives; we wouldn’t have to worry about the paper trail or handle any cash, as tickets for fundraising events would be bought online; parents would be able to advise of any medical conditions; and, they could sign up to help for events online too.”
The group decided to sign up for PTA Events - they created a flyer that was emailed to every parent and added to the school’s social media channels: “Very quickly, we realised the benefits of the platform. Santa’s Grotto at the school Christmas Fair is always hugely popular, so there’s some waiting around to meet Santa. We decided to sell tickets for this on PTA Events. Everything ran so smoothly and raised a fantastic sum of money. It had a positive impact on our volunteer numbers, too, as parents were happier to sign up to help on a stall knowing what time their child was booked to visit Santa.”
Making the most of PTA Events
Given the support that PTA Events was receiving from the whole school community, Jessica tells us that the group started to think about ways to make the most of their new platform: “We decided that it would be much easier for us to sell ‘extras’ for fundraising events using the platform. We recently held a film night and we were able to sell pizzas, which had been donated for our event, on PTA Events.”
The group has also been able to secure the support of a local estate agent business, which has taken a banner advert on the group’s PTA Events page: “Our page is pretty popular now and we decided to approach the estate agents, as they have supported our events in the past. They’ve taken out a year’s advertising which is another source of income for us from the platform.
“We’re so pleased that our move to PTA Events has been embraced by the school community – virtually all parents are signed up to the platform, which is great news, as it’s hugely beneficial to our PTA group and we wouldn’t want to be without it now.”