When considering ways to raise money for schools, PTAs are great at planning and preparing fundraising events. These can be great at generating income, but often require a significant number of willing volunteers.
Are you looking for a different approach? If so, applying to foundations that offer grants for schools could be an option.
The Advantages of Grant Applications
Is there an experienced bid writer who can offer their skills to the PTA? One or two dedicated PTA members can work on grant applications, so it isn’t dependent on a large and supportive school community. Successful grant applications result in several hundred to a few thousand pounds. Alternatively, foundations may offer goods in kind, which could aid your school’s goals.
The Challenges of Grant Applications
For the novice, writing grant applications can be daunting. Even with experience, the process takes time. This isn’t money for the pot; grants typically have specific criteria, so your PTA and school must agree on what any funding will pay for and then find a grant to match. There is no guarantee of success, so the efforts may not generate desired results.
What Grants are Available to Schools?
National foundations offer support to schools through grants. The number of grants, funding offered and criteria changes each year.
Here is a list of 10 organisations accepting grant applications from schools in 2021:
The Ford Britain Trust – supporting children’s education projects which deliver wider community benefits
Blue Spark Foundation – funds for the education and development of children through cultural and sporting activities
Community Matters – a customer voting system held in John Lewis and Waitrose stores; three charities receive a share of a monthly donation
Tesco Community Grants – as above, but in Tesco stores
Universal Music UK Sound Foundation – financial contributions towards the purchase of musical instruments or lessons to develop skills in music
The Greggs Foundation – providing resources to establish school breakfast clubs
Woodland Trust – distributing free tree packs including information and saplings
The Local School Nature Grant Scheme – for the development of school gardens that encourage bio-diversity
WHSmith Foundation – match funding for literacy-focused projects and book donations to aid the development of school libraries
B&C Community Reuse – offering surplus and waste stock including paint, wood and tiles, to be used to construct or revamp facilities
Along with these national grants, there is a range of local foundations that might be relevant for your school. For Aylesbury Vale schools, local to the School Fundraising offices, Heart of Bucks is one example.
Grant Writing Tips for PTAs
Every grant application scheme receives plenty of applications, so how do you give your school the best chance?
We share 10 tips to help get your funding application started:
- Read all available information thoroughly and make sure that your project is an exact fit
- Research projects that have previously received grant support
- Be clear and specific about what a successful application would fund in your school. Would all children be involved or is it aimed at a particular group?
- Funders favour projects which are sustainable when the grant runs out. What measures can you put in place to keep the project running long term?
- Collaboration with other schools or community groups is also valued. Are there natural partners outside of the school community?
- If a contact at the foundation is provided, call to discuss your project and listen to the advice offered
- Your application must be more than the facts – who will benefit (both now and in the future) and why is this important? Develop the art of persuasion; be genuine and emotive
- Funders want to optimise value – how will the PTA ensure that every penny counts?
- Don’t copy and paste the same information into multiple grant applications – a personalised approach is needed.
- Don’t get disheartened if you don’t receive the grant – it may have been a strong application, but there is stiff competition. Learn from the process and give it another try.
Are Grants for Schools Worth Applying for?
The answer is dependent on what your PTA is fundraising for and if it matches the criteria. It also needs willing volunteers who are confident about completing the application and have sufficient time to allocate to it.
There are plenty of school projects which have been partially or fully funded through community grants, so it can pay off. Best of luck if you decide to give it a go!
You may also be interested in this article on Non-event Fundraising for Schools.