If you took a straw poll of all the primary schools in the UK, you’d probably find that every school does some form charity work. You’d be hard-pressed to find a school that didn’t understand the benefits of supporting a charity. However, what is not as well understood, are the huge advantages for the pupils. Done right, charity work can be instrumental in pupil’s personal and social development – as well being a lot of fun.
To put the fun in fundraising and maximise the benefits of supporting a charity, the first step to establish a yearlong relationship. Of course charity days like Children In Need and Comic Relief can still be supported, but to get the school truly engaged, the relationship must be on going. That way everyone can get involved with what they charity stands for, and have a role to play in making a difference.
Having a yearlong relationship is a commitment for the school, but the adage that ‘you get what you put in’ is absolutely true. This type of charity support is commonplace in industry, and schools that have adopted this approach never look back.
If you decide to run a Charity of the Year initiative the first step is to assign a task-group to manage the liaison and fund-raising. This is best headed up by a member of staff who is passionate about philanthropy and comfortable managing funds. The group would also benefit from having a parent representative, ideally from the PTA, and nominated students.
Once the team is in the place, it’s time to choose the charity. To make the process as democratic and fun as possible, it’s best to draw up a short-list and let the students vote for their favourite. When putting the short-list together you need to include charities that will resonate with pupils – charities that support other children are a good place to start.
Once the charity has been nominated, invite them in to talk at an assembly – by explaining what the charity does and the difference that it makes, it will motivate the pupils and kick-off the year. Here are some top tips to make it as enjoyable and impactful as possible.
Get the family involved: The majority of the funds are going to come from parents and family, which is why they need to be brought in from the beginning. Send them a letter at the start of year outlining what charity the school is supporting, why it has been chosen and the benefits for the pupils.
Fund-raising ideas: There are obviously some great staples to draw upon, such as non-uniform days, sponsorships, fetes, discos, bake sales etc., as well as seasonal ideas such as Easter Egg hunts and carol singing. But why not be more imaginative? Children and staff could volunteer at the weekends and offer car-washing, bag packing at supermarkets etc. By working together to create a full calendar of events, pupils will learn lessons in creativity, team building and managing money.
Class targets: To make the fund-raising more tangible and competitive, each class should be given targets and told exactly what the money will be used for. The majority of charities share how funds will be used – for example, every £95 donated to World Bicycle Relief UK puts a bike in the hands of an school child in rural Africa – so each class could be tasked with ‘a bike a month’ – taking the focus away from the funds, to the impact.
Monthly check-ins: To keep the school engaged and motivated it’s imperative to share monthly updates on funds raised, outlining which class has done best and giving success stories. If possible, this is best delivered from the head during a school-wide assembly.
The grand unveil: At the end of the year there should be a huge amount of pride, knowing how much work went in, and what it will mean to the charity recipients. Why not make an occasion of it, and do a cheque handover, with some of the best student fund-raisers, a charity representative and a member of the local press for a great photograph opportunity.
By Stephen Cromwell, Development Director, World Bicycle Relief UK