Schools: how to raise £1m a year

Posted on: 2018-05-21 08:00:00

Last week the website Education Uncovered revealed that the Harris Westminster Sixth Form, part of the Harris Federation of schools, had advertised for a “major gifts fundraiser” to bring in between £500,000 to £1m a year. Should other cash-strapped schools take fundraising this seriously now that many find their budgets in deficit?

Duncan Spalding

executive headteacher, Aylsham high school, Bure Valley school and John of Gaunt infant and nursery school, Norfolk

“Maybe Harris will use their wealthy Westminster and city contacts to raise this money. I imagine many would like to be associated with the surefire success of such a highly selective institution. But how easily would a similar venture work in Stoke, or Blackpool? Hedge fund managers, insurance barons or property magnates might be thin on the ground.

I find the whole benefactor thing highly problematic. Some chains have very wealthy backers who give large sums of money each year, in some cases millions. This is wealth others cannot possibly tap into. There just aren’t enough billionaires to go around. It’s not systematic and certainly isn’t sustainable. It is iniquitous.

We haven’t asked parents for donations. We raise some money by inviting our local community to use our facilities for what we hope is a reasonable charge, and we have just started a membership scheme for our school swimming pool. Any additional income will be a godsend. It’s early days yet but we’re hopeful that it will prove a very positive source of income for us. I know that it won’t raise anywhere near the £500k to £1m sought in the Harris advert.”

Carl Ward

chief executive of the City Learning Trust in Stoke on Trent and president of Association of School and College Leaders

“All schools are taking fundraising very seriously and it’s a reflection of where state education is right now. But schools don’t want to employ fundraisers – they’d prefer to have the money in the budget they need. In private schools, average fees have gone up between 20—25% in recent years, while in the state sector, in real terms income has gone down. Fundraising requires investment up front with only a guess that there’ll be any return. For Harris, probably the most experienced and successful multi-academy trust in the country, it may be able to afford to take on a fundraiser, but if you’re a single school, you can’t. There’s no equity in that for children.

Sir Andrew Carter

chief executive of South Farnham Education Trust, Surrey, and a government adviser

“Schools should not be charging people for education but we do need to decide what is free. There are core activities that people have paid for with their taxes – essentially, the curriculum – but increasingly there are other activities that we’re having to pay for out of the same pot, and we can no longer afford it.

I don’t think we should shy away from asking the community for some money to help children get the most out of school. For children whose families can’t afford to pay for a club run by a teacher outside their contracted hours, there are mechanisms such as the pupil premium that  can help, or other fundraised money that schools have always drawn on.

But in the end we’ll get to one of two answers as to what schools should be doing. Society might say, ‘yes you have to do all these extra things’ so they become mandated, and then the government will have to put more money in. Or the answer might be, ‘no, we don’t want to pay for it in our taxes, so you don’t have to do it, but we’d still like it to happen’, and then parents will have to put their hands in their pockets.”

Raj Unsworth

chair of trustees at Pride Multi Academy Trust, Barnsley, South Yorkshire

“The issue here is a fundamental one: as a country we need to decide to what extent we are funding education. Clearly Harris thinks it needs to raise this money. If it’s purely for extras, then fine. If it’s to fund basic education, then it’s wrong.

Most trusts and schools could not afford the luxury of paying a teacher’s salary for such a role. Given the extraordinarily high remuneration of its most senior employees, if this fundraising is for curriculum provision, perhaps the board should be reviewing its pay policy.”

Sam Butler

fundraiser for the Tibet Relief Fund

“To establish a fundraising operation and raise half a million to a million as an individual in a year, is hugely ambitious. If this is the expectation, it sounds bonkers to me, like a strategy that’s been pulled together by people who have no experience or understanding of fundraising.

If you need to raise that sort of money, your entire organisation needs to be trained, because it’s a collaborative approach. Fundraising on that scale is incredibly time consuming.

I’d say making links with local corporates is the best approach. But then you end up in that horrible situation for a state school of just how much you compromise and bow to the desires of that corporate?”

Source: The Guardian

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