Fundraising & Events During Covid-19
Updated: Sep 25
Many Charities, Community Groups and School PTA's have had their hands tied when it has come to fundraising during 2020, yet communities, families, parents and children have never needed more support than now and organisations require funds to pay for new items, services and facilities whatever they might be. I've spoken to a lot of school PTA's in the last few weeks who have been in touch to discuss some ideas and I've noticed a rather worrying trend. Whilst schools are often turning to the PTA with funding requests, it seems that more recently the items they're asking for funds towards aren't your usual extra curricular activities, trips, facilities etc but your more everyday items after having to increase spending earlier in the year to handle social distancing measures (I'd guess these are PPE equipment, extra staff to make up for so many bubbles etc). So, as is always the case but more so now than ever, schools need support.
I've always seen PTA groups as not only a great financial support for schools; fundraising throughout the year to give schools an extra pot of money to use for equipment, facilities or learning experiences, but also a support to the families that attend the school. That could be support for parents or to provide excellent opportunities and experiences for the children of the school. Take a School Disco event, for example, usually organised by the PTA it can raise a healthy amount of money for the school (I organised a Key Stage 1 school disco in 2019 which raised £1000 in an hour! Remind me to write a blog about how I did that.) but it also gives parents some support (offer a parent an hour or so of free childcare and they'll bite your arm off) and children a great social experience who may not otherwise get to experience a party/disco in their childhood (plus it's a great fun way to get kids active).
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on families stress, children's wellbeing and charity fundraising. From cancelled Birthday parties, holidays and Weddings to Festivals and Concerts not being able to go ahead, our human need for social interaction and entertainment has taken a beating this year. So I wanted to write a blog to share a few ideas in which School PTA's can not only provide fun social experiences to take families minds off the grim breaking news updates but also get some money back into the pot to support schools. Let's put the FUN back in FUNDRAISING (wow, that was really cheesy, but I'm leaving it in because it's catchy). I really hope it helps and please get in touch if your school has done something that was a success and I'll add it down the bottom for all to see.
FIVE WAYS TO PUT THE FUN BACK IN FUNDRAISING DURING COVID-19
Design Your Own Merchandise
I know a lot of PTA's already do this sort of thing....let children design a Christmas card which parents can then order prints of to send to family and friends. It's popular because it's successful, parents get to admire the children's fabulous artwork and it raises a lot of money without too much effort because there's often many companies out there that handle all the orders and printing for you and give the PTA a kickback.
But it's such an easy way to raise money and a great idea isn't just for Christmas. This is an idea you can spread throughout the year, the gift that keeps on giving. Think of every occasion during the year... Valentines, Mothers Day, Fathers Day etc. But not just for special occasions and not just cards. How about getting the children to design their own face mask, fridge magnet, loo roll or tattoo on the Head
Teachers face. There's loads of companies out there that will print literally anything onto anything.
Here's one for you to check out - don't take it personal.
Virtual School Disco
I didn't want to start with this because, well, I do offer great virtual parties. hahaha. But it genuinely is a great, fun way to raise money and bring a smile to everyones face. Firstly let me just point out that children log on from the safety of their own homes.
Now, not all School Discos consist of a DJ hiding behind a disco booth playing Now That's What I Call Music whilst hundreds of children run around the hall like headless chickens screaming from the top of their lungs and skidding across the floor uncontrollably. That wouldn't work virtually (in fact it doesn't work in person either) and you might as well just put the radio on, I should know as I worked for Heart and Capital for over 12 years. Our school disco's have always been structured with games, challenges and competitions non stop to engage the children from start to finish... in fact some schools have asked us if we could schedule a break in the middle of our sessions to allow time for the children to spend at the sweet shop otherwise they were so engaged they forgot to do so (oops).
Our Virtual School Discos are like interactive game shows with lots of structured challenges to keep the children engaged, games that I've come up with specifically to work virtually and dance offs, Tik Tok inspired dances and more. Children log on from the safety of their own home so no staff have to stay late, no long lists of volunteers are required, no sweeping up and no face masks! If a school bubble has to self isolate or there's a local lockdown the event is unaffected and guaranteed. And there's no complicated Covid-19 risk assessment you need to complete. It's easy. Sell tickets, give everyone the log in, pour a coffee (or Prosecco if after 10am), sit back and watch the children have some fun. It's a great way to ensure children still see each other outside the school environment, enjoy some live entertainment and gives parents some time to get some work or chores done. Some schools are even running virtual sweetie shops where children can order disco snacks when they buy their ticket which will then be sent home with them from the school. Others are doing a raffle during the disco and I'm selecting the winner live. And lots of schools have asked me to judged the best dressed, especially around Halloween as children are being encouraged to log on in fancy dress.
Some schools have suggested to me that they gather them up in the hall and put me on the big screen....firstly that defeats the point, I might as well be there and just keep 2m away and secondly I don't think it would work and I only want to do something I know will give every child an amazing experience, I've never been interested in taking the money and running.
To find out more about our Virtual School Discos click here, or get in touch if you have any questions or would like to find out about our Online Safeguarding Policy - Zoom has some amazing features that ensures all our virtual parties are completely safe and secure.
So many charities raise great amounts of money from organising a 10k run around their local area. But in 2020 social distancing has meant these kind of events cannot go ahead with many being cancelled. But there has been a few that have done virtual 10k events...
Ask people to sign up and collect sponsorships to run 10k, you could even ask families to run 10k collectively to get all ages and abilities involved. Then select a week in which everyone has to complete the challenge sharing photos or videos on their run. You can setup a hashtag for people to post their photos online and spread the word or submit them to the school or PTA via email. These photos and videos would make for a great newsletter or montage video showing families getting active and raising money for the school. It's a great way to encourage families to stay active especially during the winter months when we tend to spend more time indoors. And of course it's much easier than requesting road closures from local councils, writing lengthy risk assessments and traffic management policies, finding lots of volunteers and first aiders and rolling out miles of bunting. Just don't forget to have some bacon in the fridge to enjoy at the end of the week, a bacon sandwich is a must at the end of a 10k event....even if you're not running.
Family Quiz Night
A quiz night can be a really fun way to provide some light entertainment to the entire family not just the attending children and it can be a great way to connect families and school staff socially. It's also a good platform to network with other parents and potentially harvest more PTA volunteers.
Now I know we've all done family quizzes during 2020....jeeez I thought our family weekly quiz would never end. So think outside the box when it comes to rounds and questions to keep it fresh and fun. Maybe do a round all about the school and its history or alumni... it could be a good way to see which parents bothered to read the latest newsletter ('On which date is the next inset day?').
[Plug alert] I happen to know a guy that hosts great online family quiz nights.... He runs a company called Party Peeps, you may have heard of them (hahaha). Yes, I host Family Gameshow Quiz Nights.... they're not just boring round after round of questions. There are questions but there's also on the spot challenges to keep families on their toes, bonus rounds with spontaneous missions and games. It's completely hosted for you so you don't have to put up with the droning history teacher for two hours, and we'll reveal scores and winners at the end. We can set everything up on Zoom for you so all you need to do is sell tickets and find a prize. Get in touch if you'd like to find out more or CLICK HERE!
My local hospital charity create a Christmas float every year and it's amazing. They decorate a huge trailer with Christmas decorations and invite Santa to join them in spreading Christmas cheer among the streets of Bristol. It's a family highlight for us, the kids love seeing the big man wave at them as Christmas songs blast out of speakers. So is it possible to do something similar to raise money for your school?
Ask a local bus company if they can help (an open top bus would be amazing), see if a farmer can spare a tractor and trailer, maybe one of the schools parents is a lorry driver. Rally the troops and create your own Christmas float. Then create a route hitting different streets on different nights, publicise the date and times to the local community and raise some money.
SAFETY - Now I appreciate that this idea isn't for everyone. I like to think big and sometimes get a little too ambitious, my wife is always having to calm me down when I've had yet another brilliant idea..... And when it comes to Christmas I'm like a big child. It will be a lot of work, lots of planning and will require a lot of volunteers. You'll need to speak to the local authority about routes, avoid main roads, get public liability insurance, check all documents for vehicles, complete comprehensive risk assessments, technically wire up the float so it has lighting, sound etc and you'll need to think about social distancing and ensure it is run in a covid secure manner. But if anyone does manage to pull this off please get in touch and let me know so I can marvel in your brilliance.
I hope someone finds at least something useful in this post, please do share with me any success stories or additional ideas that have gone well so I can add below. I wish you and your fellow PTA volunteers every success going forward and let's keep fingers crossed we can get back to organising events where everyone moans there's not enough toilets and the music's too loud soon.