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PTA/fundraising at secondary: what works and what doesn't?

(40 Posts)
nobutreally Mon 27-Nov-17 21:22:26

I am potentially going to get strong-armed into taking over as chair of my secondary PTA next year. I've been chair at primary but secondary seems so different, and I'm wondering what will/won't work, in terms of reasonable parental involvement!

For context: we are a typical mums net style 'leafy comp' - relatively wealthy catchment, sought-after school with well above average results for the area, although an area where loads go private at secondary. At the moment, the PTA is pretty low key - one key event a year, with a very small group of dedicated volunteers who do pretty much everything.

I'd like to 'up' things a little: but I can't quite get my head around what might work - so mn, at your secondary schools, what are the good earners for the PTA, and what has helped drive engagement? As a parent, what do you love ... and hate?

I'm a firm believer that the role of the PTA is both to raise money and to promote the 'community of the school' - but I can see that the latter is harder to do in the context of a secondary. As a parent do you want to stay at arms-length with school/the PTA - or is the fact that you are in school so little actually a reason to want engage a bit more... (hopeful, I know!)

I've been debating suggesting a ball as I know these are usually serious earners - although may take a while to get enough momentum behind it? Do balls still work at secondary?

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Nov-17 21:40:17

A ball for who? The parents? I'm not sure I'd suggest anything that requires much effort/expense from the parents to get them to turn up. We struggle enough to get them to turn up for a quiz night.

scrappydappydoo Mon 27-Nov-17 21:45:29

Ours run secondhand uniform sales every half term which are popular - I don't know how much of an earner they are though - I guess they must do ok to keep running.

nobutreally Mon 27-Nov-17 21:48:04

Yes, the parents noble :-) All the local primary schools certainly do balls round here, but I don’t know about secondary. Private secondaries certainly do but that’s a rather different kettle of bananas.

nobutreally Mon 27-Nov-17 21:49:25

Secondhand uniform is a good one - thanks. When do you/they do it? After school seems logical but few parents pick up (unless it’s a case of parents sending money for kids to buy??)

HRTpatch Mon 27-Nov-17 21:55:33

We made about £8000 a year at secondary.
Xmas fair brought in about £5000-6000...we held it on a Friday afternoon 3-6 and aimed it at the girls years 7-9.
About 36 external stalls plus our own raffles, tombolas, refreshments.
3 quizzes a year made about £500 each.
We sold second hand uniform at parents evenings and also to year 6 parents when they came for induction evening.

EllenJanethickerknickers Mon 27-Nov-17 21:57:10

Quiz night with fish and chips and a bar works locally at leafy comp. They also do an annual ball with lots of money raising games etc. Less popular comp struggles to get any parental involvement. Second hand uniform sales probably best thing, but they also have refreshments at school events such as achievement evening and school play, lower school disco etc.

scrappydappydoo Mon 27-Nov-17 22:04:50

They have the sales after school but heavily advertise beforehand so parents come in especially. I don't pay much attention to who else is there blush too busy having stress arguments with DC about what to get. There's nothing stopping a child buying though.

nobutreally Mon 27-Nov-17 22:45:18

Thanks all. Yes, uniform at parents Eve is a great idea - and we have welcome meetings for all years at the start of the year too which would work :-) Interesting that at least one school has managed a ball! I’m conscious that at primary it was a (relatively) easy way to a pretty substantial profit if you can get a few parents bidding on auction prizes & buying loads of raffle tickets on the way in!

nobutreally Mon 27-Nov-17 22:48:25

HRT - now Christmas fair is interesting as I had assumed we were past that stage! From the sound of it, you aim at the kids rather than the parents? At primary I always felt that Xmas/Easter fairs can be a lot of work for relatively little takings ... but obvious 5-6k blows that out of the water! I guess secondary kids have more disposable income but howon earth do you get to that level?!?

endofthelinefinally Mon 27-Nov-17 22:59:24

From memory:

Wine tasting with a few bottles as raffle prizes.
Fashion show. 6th formers model the clothes provided and sold by local retailers.
Quiz night with decent food and a bar.

BubblesBuddy Mon 27-Nov-17 23:20:21

Although mine went to a private secondary, it was small. The ball was attended by all 6th form girls (it was a girls school) and boys if they invited them. In a big school you have maybe just leavers. You also get parents to buy tables or be prepared to be mixed up. It is seriously hard work though and even if you don’t need to pay for the Hall, it takes a lot of organising and it won’t be cheap so needs precise costings. You can make money on all sorts of things during the event. Silent auction used to work well (super donations of course!) and the Money Tree. It needs a very dedicated team of parents though and they must know what they are doing. Rope in the pupils to make table decorations etc. Get a photographer.

Other things were a barbecue in September, a quiz night, a pre Christmas Fair which was really a shopping fair for Mums! Stall holders pay for their pitch. Cafe open at sports matches in the pavilion. Drinks and refreshments on sale at drama and music events.

A grammar school head in a nearby town said they could make £120,000 pa from parents. Leafy Bucks but not that leafy! He’s retired now but you have to make parents want to part with their money and if they think their children are getting a good education and it is cheaper than paying fees, they can be persuaded to be quite generous.

Second hand uniform if it’s at giveaway prices. As many uniforms are fairly cheap anyway will there be much profit in secondhand for the effort and washing/ironing costs or will you be offloading to the charity shop every month with unsaleable donations? If it’s a wealthy ish area, is secondhand going to sell in much volume.

The main thing is maximum effort for maximum reward.

nobutreally Tue 28-Nov-17 07:49:25

Thanks all - @endofthelinefinally wine testing is a good idea and sounds nice and easy, adding that one to the list! Do people do cheese and wine any more?!
@BubblesBuddy - the school already does a ball for sixth formers (any spare money raised goes towards their house charities but it's not primarily a fund raiser) so this would be for the parents. I've been on a school ball organising committee and it was a lot of work but not unmanageable if you have a committee I thought. Money tree is a new one on me - what's that?
I don't think we are too leafy for second hand uniform to be a go-er - esp as teens grow so fast (& loose so much sports kit ...!) - and not everyone in the catchment is leafy! But I agree that ime that one is a hassle for relatively little profit (getting it all washed and ready, checking everything is 'new uniform style' when it gets changed, making sizes easy and clear etc. And storing everything : it takes up a ton of space! I think it's almost more public service than fundraiser, but that's still an important thing to do.

bigbluebus Tue 28-Nov-17 08:03:43

Only fundraising events the PTA put on at my DCs Secondary school were Christmas/Summer Fairs and a quiz night. The biggest fundraisers were run by the school (staff and pupils) which were numerous school concerts by music dept, a school musical which was always a sell out over 3 nights and a big overnight fun event for pupils who got sponsorship to stay awake all night.

HRTpatch Tue 28-Nov-17 09:52:56

Its all about involving the girls. We had student reps from each tutor group up to year 9, we did an assembly about the fair straight after October half term to start it all off.
We got sponsorship from a local estate agent...about £1500-2000.
External stallholders paid £30 a table....thats £1000 before you even open the doors.
Sixth formers got involved helping the stakeholders in, manning the raffles and tombolas...we did an adult raffle and a girls' one....chocolate tombolas and normal tombola.

BubblesBuddy Tue 28-Nov-17 09:55:50

A money tree is a type of tombola where you buy a ticket on entry and it corresponds to a numbered envelope pegged onto the tree which guests then look for. You can use a synthetic Christmas tree. Someone will have one. Some envelopes have money in them that you win as a prize. Obviously most do not win a prize and you need to know ratios of empty envelopes vs price of tickets and how many you are likely to sell.

The ball we had at school did have the parents there too! It was a bit glamourous and the girls dressed accordingly. It was not a "prom" for 17/18 year olds. If the parents are there and you glam it up, you can raise a lot more money. We had a band followed by a disco. The bar can raise a bit too! The ball for parents and pupils is a fun night for all, not just the pupils. In a 420 nor school, the ball often had 350-400 guests.

I do agree with you that a secondhand uniform shop is a very community spirited activity, so if you have time and space and dedication - go for it.

Any school with sell-out plays and music events can get the PTA to do drinks etc before it starts and at the intermission (build one in by agreement with the school). It is not a massive amount of work and is very social for the parents. What about the same at Sports Day?

TeenTimesTwo Tue 28-Nov-17 11:26:45

Our school doesn't do much <understatement of the year>, but what it does do is low effort for relatively good reward.
- Quiz night, bring your own drinks & nibbles
- Refreshments at school productions
- Refreshments at school open evening
- Lottery
The school has a system of ensuring pre-owned uniform goes to those in need so we don't interfere with that.

One thing is try to make donating to the PTA really easy by having an entry on your school's online payment system.

nobutreally Tue 28-Nov-17 11:43:30

Thanks everyone. Some of this is stuff that we already do (refreshments at plays/open day/musical events/sports day) - so I increasingly suspect we are pretty 'normal' - it's whether the school would be able to take it up a notch!

Thanks for the info about the fair @HRTpatch, that's really helpful - Made me think about sponsorship (something we don't have now...) and about getting the 6th form more involved. The 6th form do a very active charity fundraising week (which must be soon, actually) so we'd need to time any events well away from that week, but it would be a brilliant way of increasing the helper head count!

And thanks for the ball info @BubblesBuddy - that makes sense so I guess it would depend on how the kids felt about it - I suspect that prom go-ers might just prefer to keep the parents at arms length (although maybe I'm quite wrong and all the teenage parent-embaressment is starting to wear off at that stage!)

@bigbluebus - tell me more about the overnight stay awake thing (although I'm nervous just thinking about it!!)

@TeenTimesTwo - out of interest, would you like the PTA to do more? I know lots of my mates have heaved a sigh of relief as we have headed out of primary into the 'low parental involvement' of secondary...

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 28-Nov-17 11:49:30

If you do a ball you will have to decide whether it is a social event or a fund-raiser.

The cost of hiring a venue, entertainment, providing a three-course meal, decorating the venue etc can bump up the price per head to easily over £50 per head. Money can be made on the bar if you source your own booze and parents man it on a rota basis or you budget to pay staff in the catering firm to man your own bar.

Is it the type of area that you'd be able to run an auction or silent auction to "fund raise" and the costs of the actual event/meal etc be the ticket price.

Would you be able to sell tickets at £75.00 per head as before you know it can easily be this.

Evelynismyspyname Tue 28-Nov-17 11:58:43

At DD's secondary the kids (student council) sell refreshments at parents evening. They ask for donations instead of setting prices so the profit margin on a cup of coffee and a biscuit ends up at about 95% and the audience are captive and waiting about between appointments, and have often skipped dinner to be there...

PTA could do that. I don't think we have a PTA (abroad ... Very hands off blush grin )

TeenTimesTwo Tue 28-Nov-17 12:02:58

would you like the PTA to do more

Not if I have to organise it! I was on the primary PTA for 7 years and am more-or-less PTA-ed out. I do have a particular role on the PTA, but have said that's all I'm doing, I'm not helping organise other stuff. I wouldn't attend a ball I don't think. And to be honest my DD finds normal secondary enough stress-wise without adding other stuff in like Christmas fairs.

Our school doesn't send out 'begging letters' to parents, though I can see it might have to go that way. If it asked & got the top 10% wealthy families to give £100, the next 30% to give £20 and the next 10% to give £10 per year it could get £17,000. Which thinking about it, is really quite a lot. Maybe I'll suggest it.

Evelynismyspyname Tue 28-Nov-17 12:03:07

I'd rather do all sorts of unappealing things than go to a patents' ball shock It sounds horrendous, but I guess I'm not your target audience! I am rather astonished that's a thing!

So all the parents are vying for the same babysitters at primary so they can all go out as couples to a school ball? Then all those pre teens and teens are home alone on the night of the secondary school parental ball?

But if people are used to it at primary I guess it'll probably work at secondary.

BubblesBuddy Tue 28-Nov-17 12:04:31

It will definitely have to be over £50 a head. Is there not a school hall? This would keep the cost down. Venues really ramp the cost up. Whether a ball is worthwhile or not really depends on what parents you have. How many will go? The idea of having the leavers or 6th form there is that the parents go with their children so numbers are good.

We found 17/18 year olds off to university really do not mind their parents having a good time at the same venue. I think they are mature enough to go out with parents if it is sold to them! I am glad our school did not have a prom. It is just an American idea that we have adopted but we could be a bit more inventive!

I do think state school parents are glad to be rid of PTA events in some cases which is a great shame. At our private school it was totally the opposite and the PTA was a hub of activity and friendships.

bigbluebus Tue 28-Nov-17 12:24:32

Have PM'd you notbutreally so as not to out where I live.

karriecreamer Tue 28-Nov-17 13:11:10

Our school have a "friends of" rather than a PTA. They have an on-site shop in a spare room to sell second hand books, revision guides, uniform, etc. as donated from older pupils, but also new stuff such as the recommended calculator, and a few branded items such as key rings, pens, greeting cards, T shirts, Hoodies, etc and other stationery items. It's staffed by "friends" and open Friday afternoon and Saturday mornings (just a couple of hours) and on open days, intro days, sports days, etc. The "friends" also do a stall selling refreshments at open days, parent evenings, sports days, etc.

They do a few annual events, including gin and wine tasting evenings, gala evening, auction of promises, fun run, Burn's night. Aside from that, they heavily encourage people to join their EasyFundraising Account, and run a "500 club".

According to published accounts, they generate an income of £30-£40k per year.

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