A different kind of challenge

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What do you do when your Ofsted is over? Book a holiday, reintroduce yourself to your family, have a long sleep? Anton Junior School’s head, Tom Donohoe had other plans. If you’re looking for fundraising ideas, read on…

After a successful Ofsted Inspection of our school in July 2009 we decided we needed a new challenge to work towards to maintain our excitement and energy. We decided to build a Music, Dance & Drama Room in our grounds. We didn’t let the fact that we had no money put us off, as we thought this just added excitement to the challenge of raising £120,000 from scratch!!

Anton Junior is in the town of Andover, Hampshire, which is a place with fairly large pockets of deprivation, it has been developed extensively in recent years to accommodate families overspilling from London. The town is fairly mono-cultural and although our school catchment is perceived to be quite well-off, 50% of our school population come from out of catchment and we therefore have quite a mixed bag.

This is the diary of our fund raising attempts.

SEPTEMBER 

First we discussed the idea of the MADD (Music & Dance Drama) room with staff and governors. We knew for this project to take off that everyone had to be on board. Several staff  volunteered to join a committee to focus solely on fund raising. At each of our four year group parents’ meetings we spoke about the initiative and distributed forms asking parents to suggest any potential sources of income that they could think of. 

Our committee met twice in September; once to brainstorm possible events and the second time to put these events into a calendar and to decide which staff would take a lead on each event.

Cumulative Total = £0.00 Raised

OCTOBER 

In October our first fund raising event took place – we had negotiated with the town football club Andover FC (the mighty Lions!) to have free use of their stadium/pitch on a Friday night. We publicised the event to parents and invited ‘sealed bids’ for them and/or their child to secure a place in

(a) an Infants match
(b) a Junior match and
(c) a Parents Vs Staff match!

Following a little cajoling of parents on the playground, the bids started to roll in. We had agreed how many participants were to be in each match and they went to the highest bidders. The bids alone brought in over £600. Tickets were then sold to spectators and Andover FC had one of their highest attendances for several seasons. The gate money alone raised a further £700. We had a raffle on the night that brought the total profit for the event to more than £1500. Although we were still a long way from our target, it was a start AND more importantly everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves. By the way the staff won 6:3!

At the start of the academic year we had worked with our school council to write letters to all local businesses outlining what we were trying to achieve. We suggested ways in which they could help us, as well as ways we could help them in return. We had many negatives (as we expected considering the current climate) but received a good number of positives too. The best of these was from Simply Health who invited our pupils into their company to do a presentation. After a very successful pitch  we were delighted to receive a fantastic contribution of £10,000. Another  major boost!

Cumulative Total  = £12,000 Raised

NOVEMBER

This month we held our most lucrative fund raising event; a Fireworks Extravaganza. I was a little unsure about organising such an event in the school grounds so I took advice and checked it out with Hampshire County Council before putting the idea to staff and governors.

We decided to run with it and the event just grew bigger and bigger; we had fairground rides, barbecues, hog roasts, floodlit play-areas, refreshments, sideshows and stalls, etc. As well as advertising on the radio and in the local paper our children each had    10 fliers to distribute to friends.  We just had to pray for good weather!

And it worked. Nearly 2000 people attended and spent their money. People particularly appreciated that it was good value for money. We had priced everything as cheaply as we could, whilst still ensuring that we made a reasonable profit. Overall, the event raised in excess of £8,000 with more than £6,000 being profit. It’s now to be an annual event.

With some additional smaller events we reached:

Cumulative Total  = £20,000 raised

DECEMBER

So what was next? How about a ‘gourmet evening’?  My wonderful deputy  transformed our school hall into a first class restaurant for the evening. She persuaded a five star hotel to ‘loan’ us three chefs for the day, who worked with our year six pupils to cook a fantastic four course meal to be served to sixty of our year 6 parents.

She managed to negotiate £400 worth of produce from Waitrose for free and a further £100 worth from a local organic fruit and veg supplier. The cutlery, crockery and tableware was begged and borrowed   from local restaurants and we purchased candles for that extra bit of class. What an evening we had!!  Le Creuset had been persuaded to donate soup bowls and dishes for the dessert, these were sold to parents at the end of the evening, raising £400. In total the evening made a profit of £2000.

Into Christmas and we were busy thinking of ways of combining our end of term activities with fundraising. A very kind parent agreed to do some filming so we took the whole school to a local church and made a ‘Christmas Carols DVD’. It sold for £4.00 a time and made just under a thousand pounds.

Perhaps slightly more unusual was the ‘bag packing service’ we offered on a Saturday in local supermarkets, not my favourite way of earning funds though some staff seemed to enjoy it.

Throughout this term we have spent a lot of time searching for grants. We have sent off around half a dozen so far ranging from £3000 to £50,000. Some of these will prove fruitless but we were pleased to hear in December that our first application (for 3K) was successful. In the third, and final, part of this article I will include a section that focuses purely on grant applications.

Cumulative Total  = £30,000 raised

Only £90,000 still to go!

 

Tom Donohoe

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