As one of the largest primary schools in the country, there is always a need for PTA funds. From transforming dilapidated playgrounds, to creating reading corners the demand for money is great.
The PTA is also a source for fun, and our constitution sets out that we will create positive memories of school as well as buy items or experiences that benefit every child. For example, this year we will spend £2,600 on Christmas entertainment from visiting theatre groups. This roughly works out at about £3 per child.
But that £3 needs to be found. Throughout the pandemic we have tried to keep going with outdoor events that people can do as a family or bubble.
One really successful initiative has been to lay themed treasure hunts around the village. The idea was simple: find letters we had asked families to make and display in their window.
The letters would spell a word. Coinciding with Easter holidays or Halloween half term, the words matched the theme - our last word was cauldron. People were encouraged to email us the word they found in return for entry into a prize draw.
However, it’s always been a very manual process. We used our own payment platform and then emailed a map to people. Lack of automation was a big drawback - you could buy a ticket but had to wait for someone to check the system and send you the info. It meant you couldn’t really do a trail spur of the moment.
Noticing how popular QR codes had become we decided to look at whether it provided an option to run events differently. It did. We realised we could use codes to open webpages. This sparked the idea to use a donations platform.
We applied to JustGiving for a charity page. It’s simple to set up but does require some patience while formal details are checked. But within a week we had a listing.
We then created a ‘campaign’ detailing the treasure hunt. This gives the option to set up a url dedicated to the campaign that people could put into a browser.
It’s this url we turned into a QR code using a free QR creator from Shopify. People could then scan the code we put on our posters and be taken directly to the JustGiving campaign page. Here they could make a suggested donation of £3 or more.
After making a donation, everyone always receives a receipt. So, we updated our receipt message with a link to a trail map we had plotted on Google maps. This pin-pointed the roads where people would find giant letters.
As an added incentive we teamed up with an award-winning bakery, who have children at the school. Everyone who showed their receipt in the shop could claim a free pastry when they bought a hot drink. It helped drive footfall at a time when things were reopening and gave participants a place to bask in their success! The bakery also provided the prize of a celebration cake.
Our last treasure hunt was billed as a fundraiser to improve music learning. Uptake was enthusiastic and we made enough money to buy a full set of wakatubes, 15 ukuleles and some folk band music books.
It’s an approach we’ll be using more often now - QR codes are in place to pay for second-hand uniform for example.
You could say the PTA has been dragged into the 21st century. We might not have adopted this approach had it not been for the pandemic. And happily, our school community has supported it.
By Samantha Crowe, Chair, Beaver Road Primary, Greater Manchester.
(Beaver Road Primary is a member of The Stamptastic PTA Rewards Scheme) and received a £30 fundraising voucher for writing this blog post. If you would like to write a blog post for us please join our Stamptastic PTA and Schools Facebook Group to find out more!)
You may find these other PTA Fundraising blog posts useful:
8. PTA Raffle