For more than ten years, our PTA has had a ‘regular giving’ scheme whereby parents set up a standing order to donate whatever they feel able to contribute. It was incredibly easy to set up, and in good years it has brought in more than £5,000 – the same as a big event like a summer or Christmas fair.
We launched the scheme with a flyer designed by one of the parents suggesting a monthly donation equivalent to a cup of coffee or a round of drinks. Offering those comparisons is a good way of getting people to think: yes, I can afford that. On the back is a form for parents to fill in with their bank details and a box they tick to Gift Aid their donation. You could make it easier to sign up by having a QR code on a flyer that takes you to an online form.
We very much wanted the scheme to be voluntary, so we haven’t promoted it aggressively – other than putting the flyers in bookbags one year, we have mainly just left them lying around at our events. With the pandemic and then the cost of living crisis, we recognise families might be struggling so we don’t want anyone to feel pressured.
Only a small number of families make regular donations – between seven and 12 families in a school of 420 children – but they are incredibly generous. Some donate £50 a month, so it really adds up. These days the scheme brings in around £2,000 a year on average, from our overall income of around £15,000.
The money we’ve raised has helped us refurbish the school library, fund theatre trips, buy Chromebooks and install new playground equipment. We’re very clear that our role is to pay for extras for the school – it’s not about asking parents to pay for their children’s education.
A core income
The regular giving scheme hasn’t replaced any of the other activities we do, because we feel our events are as much about building a community and creating memories for the children as they are about fundraising. But for us, the difference the scheme makes is that it provides a regular, core income, which can help us to plan ahead – and that’s rare for a PTA.
Some may argue that we shouldn’t be asking parents to fund the school in this way, but we haven’t had any outright opposition to the scheme. I think because parents have actively chosen to fill in the form, rather than us approaching them and asking for regular donations, it doesn’t feel too in-your-face.
- Harriet Pike, chair, Friends of Morley, Morley Memorial Primary School, Cambridge (420 pupils)