The summer term is an excuse to run some fantastic fundraising initiatives. If you’re in need of inspiration, here are just a few of the success stories PTAs have shared with us...
Moovellous cow hunt
‘The Amberley cow hunt was originally thought up by a few of the Amberley mums as a small village event to fundraise for our school, as well as celebrating the annual release of the cows onto the surrounding National Trust Common. Cowboys, cowgirls and their families buy a trail map to hunt for the ‘dressed up’ cows and stop at the vintage tea tent we have for refreshments en route. The whole school community puts a lot of effort into the cow hunt each year. The children love deciding on the names for the cows and dressing them... we’ve had Burglar Bull, Moobot (Mo Farah), Sugar Plum Dairy and Moodusa, among others! The cow hunt has grown over the years with around 2,500 people following the trail. We were baking for days, but raised an incredible £7,500 – that’s a lot of map, tea and cake sales!’
Katy Easey, Amberley Parochial School PTA, Sussex
‘The Garden Trail has run for the past 23 years – last year we amassed 28 gardens, which all featured in a brochure given out with tickets on the day. Our team is made up of ten parents, who take on the bigger roles, such as organising the brochure, selling advertising and recruiting garden-owners. We also have a sign-up sheet for those who can help with cake baking, setting up the marquees, serving refreshments, and so on. Each year a member of staff asks villagers if they will support us by opening their garden to the public one Sunday in June. The majority of participants have been a part of the garden trail for many years. People also approach us offering to show their gardens – some run games for the children or sell refreshments, too.
The same brochure template is used each year, and one of our team works at a printing firm, so prints these for us. We sell advertising space to local businesses – this is all organised by two members of our team, though most are repeat bookings. Businesses include local pubs, garden centres and caterers, and we charge £10-15 per half page. We start publicising the event in January, sending out a press release to the local newspaper. Two weeks before the event we put up flyers and posters in local shops, pubs and tourist attractions. We’re supported by a local estate agent and use their promotional boards. Social media is also very useful.
We sell tickets at the school, charging £6 per adult, with free entry for children. The trail starts with our own School House Garden, where people can visit stalls and enjoy refreshments. We invite the National Trust, vintage ice-cream sellers and local craftspeople to hire a stall for £10-15 each. Our visitors can then continue following the trail – it is numbered but people tend to visit the gardens in no particular order. Most are within the village itself, and a local farmer gives up land for additional parking, so that visitors can get around by car if need be.
Feedback is always extremely positive and everyone pulls together, which is a great boost for the village. The event’s success is down to the dedication and talents within the community – villagers, school staff, families and friends! On average, the event raises around £5,000.’
Nicola Schulz, event organiser, Fletching CE Primary School, Fletching, East Sussex (85 pupils)
‘We have 360 pupils and a large field, so we invited families to pitch a tent on the school field. The event ran from 2pm on Saturday until 10.30am Sunday. We worked out how many tents we could accommodate and asked families to prebook pitches for £15 per night (per family). Those who wanted to join in but weren’t keen to camp could just come for Saturday, at a cost of £10 per family (or £3 per person). To keep things simple, and to keep the work for volunteers to a minimum, we decided not to run a bar. Included in the price was afternoon tea on Saturday (with donated cakes) and hot chocolate and marshmallows at 9pm. There were games in the afternoon – football and rounders. We did not allow personal BBQs or stoves, but had a BBQ on Saturday evening and provided a cooked breakfast on Sunday morning (using the school kitchen). We charged an additional cost for these. Parents signed up on a rota to help serve food. We are lucky to have support from teachers and the caretaker, who joined in the festivities and stayed on-site. The gates were locked at 10pm, but the caretaker was right by the gate in case of an emergency. We had access to the school toilets. Just like proper camping, people bought their own camping chairs and tables, and we set up washing-up stations, which was very sociable! It was a fantastic weekend and we were fortunate with the weather. We did have a contingency for rain – if the forecast had been a washout we had another date in reserve. If there was a little rain we could have moved some activities into the gym and hall. We raised over £1,000 and it was so popular that we’re doing it again this year, but with an earlier start and a later finish.’
Sam Hensman, chair of Fleetville Junior School PTA, St Albans, Herts
‘Being a very small school of only 50 pupils, fundraising is always a big challenge for us. For the past few years we have organised The Big Breakfast, which draws in the whole community and has become a village favourite. We usually serve up about 200 breakfasts cooked on an enormous barbecue and an array of camping stoves (full English with all the trimmings). Many people bring their newspapers and all generations sit around on picnic tables in the playground reading and chatting. Last year we held the Big American Breakfast on Independence Day. The children made flags, bunting and organised Wild West games using ‘fake’ dollars. We served up over 200 delicious breakfasts of pancakes, maple syrup and real coffee (which proved to be a great success) and we raised nearly £600. It is our biggest fundraiser of the year.’
Olivia Prowse, Loddiswell School PTFA, Devon
Dragon Boat Festival
‘The Dragon Boat event at Bewl Water takes place every year and attracts hundreds of people over the two days. It’s a fun day out and raises thousands for charity. We entered two boats, known as ‘The Sevenoaks Scullers’. We had 34 members consisting of parents, teachers and TA’s, our headteacher, school governors and SPSA members. It costs £300 to enter each boat and we raised sponsorship from Antwis Engineering and Tullett Prebon, money brokers. Funraisers (the organisers), stipulate that if you enter a team you must raise £2,000 for your nominated charity. There is a prize for the team that raises the most money, and other prizes including the best fancy dress. We use the Just Giving website and last year we raised £6,000 for Sevenoaks Primary School, which was a fantastic achievement. We also achieved a very credible ninth place. This event is great for getting a different set of people involved in our fundraising efforts, especially Dads! It is also something completely different from our usual events.’
Alison Potter, Sevenoaks Primary School PTA, Kent
‘A distant jingle floated through the summer air. Suddenly one boy shouted: ‘There’s an ice-cream van!’ and with cries of delight, the children raced across the field towards it. We had arranged for the van to arrive at our summer picnic unannounced, and the ice-creams were a welcome surprise on such a hot, sunny day. Judging by the smiles on the children’s faces, we’d hit the jackpot.
After all their hard work, we wanted to give the children and teachers something fun and social to look forward to. Compared with our usual summer fairs, organising this picnic event was a breeze. The PTA invested £400 in good quality, reusable items that could be kept for future events at the school, including huge picnic rugs and a selection of wooden outdoor games. An oversized set of bowls proved popular, and the Giant Jenga towers made the children dissolve into fits of the giggles whenever they toppled over. The only other outlay was the ice-creams. We’re a small school, and it cost just over £100 to buy one for every child and teacher.
We asked the parents to send their children to school with picnic food. Each child was allowed a sweet treat, a snack and a drink which meant everyone could eat their favourite foods.
The teachers told us how happy they felt as they watched the children run around the field in the blazing sun. After a difficult year, they felt relaxed and optimistic for the future.’
Zara Howard and Rowanna Ewings, Calder Primary School PTA, Calder Primary School, West Yorkshire (75 pupils)
Our outdoor movie night took place in the afternoon
‘We’ve always loved watching films outside and thought running an event for the school would be exciting. But it seemed like such a big task and we kept running into hurdles. One of the biggest challenges was finding an organisation with a screen that worked in daylight, as the long summer days mean the sun sets too late for school-age children to start watching a movie.
Luckily, we heard about Sundown Cinema. We got in touch and they sent us their brochure and FAQs booklet. After that, it all seemed achievable.
We booked a July date with a 4pm screening time and started looking for sponsorship to help with the initial outlay – it cost us over £1,000 just to hire the equipment. We managed to obtain £700 in sponsorship from local companies paying between £50 and £300 each. In return, we offered advertising before the movie and after the end credits, which we created in PowerPoint.
Sundown Cinema guided us through the application for the special licence needed to run an outdoor cinema event – the cost of this licence is 40 per cent of your ticket price. We decided to charge £5 per ticket for anyone older than two. Parents could purchase tickets through the school as well as pre-ordering hot dogs and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
The PTA made a shortlist of three movies and allowed the children to vote for their choice. Sing 2 won by a mile, and we purchased two copies on Blu-ray for the day, just in case.
We sold 450 tickets, making £2,250 on ticket sales and taking our total income, including sponsorship, to almost £3,000. After deducting the cost of the licence and screen hire, we began the event with around £1,000 profit.
Sundown had already asked about practicalities like access, and when their technician arrived at lunchtime, he set everything up with no complications. The PTA ran stalls selling candy floss, ice lollies, soft drinks, beer and Pimm’s. Money from these, combined with the hot dogs and doughnuts, came to just under £800, giving us total profits of £1,770.
It was such a fun event. The sun shone and the families had a fantastic time. The support we got from Sundown made planning easy. It was such a great event that we’re already planning another one for this summer.’
Kate Brown, PTA fundraising team, Katherine Semar Schools (450 pupils)