So you’ve succeeded in getting interested parents together and motivated – well done! Now you can start to raise money for educational equipment and term-time extras like day trips and excursions. But where to begin? The idea is to have fun and make a little money at the same time, not to break the bank or do something that requires a huge amount of organisation. Well, the end-of-year fair can wait; here are some entertaining, low cost ideas to raise money, ranked in order of complexity.
1. How many sweets in the jar? Or any variation. Make sure you put the actual jar somewhere public, like in the foyer of the school building, so that it can be seen by everyone. Avoid having to constantly empty a cash box by taking a picture of the jar, posting it onto the school or PTA website and selling ‘guesses’ as tickets online.
2. The raffle Probably the easiest “proper” activity to organise. It's possible to do this entirely through online ticketing, but to do so you must register as a ‘small society lottery’ with your local council. Otherwise you’ll need to sell tickets at the raffle location and announce the winner that same day.
Of course, finding prizes is a different matter. Experts will recommend calling or visiting local businesses to request donations. Since you’re usually appealing to parents more often than their children, salon or dinner vouchers can go down very well. Remember that many businesses will benefit from the publicity and repeat sales, so be confident when you talk to them.
3. Suitcase sale Charge a one time fee for kids to pack a suitcase full of things they’d like to sell (or trade) from home. This can be set up quite quickly during break-time in a large classroom. Basically a small garage sale, it isn’t hugely profitable but can certainly be a lot of fun for the ‘exhibitors’ as they ply their trade. Another variation on this is the well-worn cake sale, though not all parents have the time or interest to bake!
4. Car wash Kids like to play with water as long as it doesn’t involve actually bathing. Why not introduce cars and some soap? Failing that, ask for industrious parents to help out by doing the washing themselves. Yet again, booking time slots and tickets online can save on admin.
5. Quiz night Can be great fun, but there are a couple of caveats. Consider your audience: is it children or their parents, or both? Will it be competitive or just a bit of fun? It’s also important to make sure that entry tickets are proportional to the prizes on offer. Above all, make sure that your nominated quizmaster is entertaining, because they will make or break the night.
6. Sponsored walk This is a classic and can often raise substantial amounts, especially if it involves several year groups. On the other hand, it can be complicated to organise when student numbers are significant, not enough parents can attend or there is no obvious place to take the walk. One advantage of collecting sponsorship money through a PTA website is that children don’t lose it or forget it at home. Then again, it is much harder to brag about your sponsors without all those large, note-filled envelopes.
7. Pinewood derby An American tradition! Not much more complicated than a sponsored walk, but it does have set-up costs. You will need a short “racetrack” (a downward sloping wooden ramp) and, most importantly, derby kits. These can be bought from a number of UK companies including Amazon.
The general idea? Each racer pays an entry fee that covers the cost of the kit plus a little extra. You use the kit to make your car, which you may carve and paint but not significantly alter. Everyone brings in their race cars and either fun or serious competition ensues, depending on how committed parents are!