We are all aware nowadays that funding in schools is tight with budgets being ever more tightly reigned in. But schools do still require products and buildings which promote outdoor learning in the playground (especially with the growing popularity of the forest schools initiative) so how is a school supposed to fund these items when budgets are going in the opposite direction?
At the Hideout House Company, we have built up many years of experience of working successfully with schools in helping them access the necessary funds to pay for our products and services so below is a precis of how your school best goes about this.
At the top of my list when working with a school is dedication as you have to be prepared to put the time and effort in. Without this, you could potentially fail at any time along the way as nothing is easy I am afraid but where there is a will, there is a way!
Firstly, there are certain grants which are available to schools which can and will fund outdoor classrooms and shelters. The majority of them are community based so you will need to prove that the intended outcome of your project is not solely curriculum based but can easily be used by the wider local community outside of school hours.
We have built up a comprehensive list of these grants which is available in our funding guide. But remember that this is terribly competitive and these grant funders are not waiting for your application to fall on their laps; so you have to be very consistent and diligent in putting forward a tangible and cogent argument as to why your school should be the recipient of their grant. Also, it is imperative that you follow their guidelines as to what they will and will not fund. I have seen so many schools fall at this first fence because they have simply not read or understood the relevant funding criteria.
Crowdfunding is becoming very popular too as a means of school fundraising efforts and should certainly be part of your overall funding mix. There are certain crowdfunding sites nowadays which even specialise in educational projects and in the majority of cases, you do not have to pay to feature your project on them. Crowdfunding portals allow you to spread the net wider to a bigger funding target audience and if done well, you can quickly reach your funding goals. I have seen some sites where a school has very creatively used video as a medium to get their message across where all of the children and staff put together a short film to promote their playground project and gave many reasons as to why it would benefit the school and the pupils themselves.
Try local businesses too for funding or sponsorship donations and pick the lowest fruit first which is the parents of the children at the school. Break the funding down into smaller denominations so it becomes eminently more affordable for small to medium sized firms to contribute – so rather than say we would like your company to donate £10K (which could be beyond the reach of a lot of companies), ask for £500 instead…or perhaps go even lower. And when you approach these companies, you need to spell out exactly what you are trying to raise money for and how it will benefit both the school and the local community. Sell, sell, sell the benefits. And even better, let them know what might be in it for them – a mention on the school website with a website link perhaps, a sponsorship sign on the product itself as this will all help you sell the project.
Think too how once installed, the outdoor classroom could be used to actually generate an ancillary revenue stream for the school. We have heard of one example where a school are letting it out as a wedding gazebo at the week-end where civil ceremonies are conducted! They then let out the school hall for the wedding reception afterwards.
And last but not least, the usual fund raising efforts of the PTA with their various events throughout the year which can all go towards building a momentum to reaching your funding goals.
If you would like to know how we can help you raise money for outdoor classrooms and shelters or any playground project you have in mind (and tell you about all the schools we have already helped), then please contact us on 01865 858982 or email: email@example.com