Classlist Parent Associations

Matched funding – the easy way to raise money for your school

Raising money for your playground: Matched Funding

Classlist talks to Ken Major, who has been PTA Treasurer for 7 years at Longwell Green Primary School in Bristol.  

Ken handed over the treasurer baton this year but not before talking to us about how to raise money through matched funding and sharing his other top fundraising tips.

So, what is matched funding? It’s when one group raises money and another group agrees to match the amount that’s been raised – or a percentage of the amount raised.

That sounds simple… It really is simple. The trick is just to work out who to approach for matched funding and to make sure that you meet their individual requirements.

Who do you approach? Is it just big businesses? It’s not just big businesses. Matched funding has tax benefits for companies, so lots do it, from big bank and high street names to smaller, one-off outfits. But the companies often stipulate that they will only help particular charities (like a school PTA) if one of their employees is connected to that charity.

So what’s the first step towards matched funding? The first step is to convince the parents at your school to ask their employers if their company will match fund. (HR or payroll should have that information). If they do, you can move on to step two.

Try and have this conversation a couple of months before the event, so there’s time for things to be signed off.

Asking them to hand over the cash? It’s not quite that simple. The next step is to get your matched funding parent to agree to help you out with a PTA fundraising event. That might be doing an individual event – like a sponsored run – or it might be manning a stall at the Christmas Fair or Summer Fete. Most companies will only do matched funding against the activity their employee is directly involved in. In other words, it’s unlikely that they’ll match fund the profits made by the Christmas Fair or Summer Fete as a whole, but if their employee has run the bottle tombola, they may well match the profits generated by that stall. So, if your parent is up for helping, try and sign them up to your most lucrative fundraisers.

Will the parent need to prove that they’ve helped out on the stall? You’re getting ahead of yourself. Once you have your parent signed up to help the PTA with an event, you then have to ask that parent to go back to their company and ask them if they are willing to match fund for that activity on that date.

How much notice will they need? This varies, but it’s wise to try and have this conversation a couple of months before the event, so there’s time for things to be signed off.

And if the company says yes? If the company agrees to match fund then your helpful parent needs to find out what information their company requires from them/ the school. These requirements vary, but the PTA will probably need to provide the company with proof that the parent helped with the stall (I used to take photos of the parents manning the stalls). They’ll also need spreadsheet reconciliations of what money has been raised and the PTA bank account details to pay the money in.

What do the companies get out of it? Good karma, tax benefits – and I always used to put a thank you up on the PTA website and in the Christmas/ Fair/ Summer fete programme. You can also leave a review on the business’s Google page, saying how great they have been and how good it is to see them helping local schools.

Is it worth approaching anyone else for matched funding? It is worth looking at other businesses with whom you have a connection. You could try:

  • Asking for help from the wider school community – working grandparents/ uncles/ aunts etc.
  • Approaching businesses who employ former pupils who might be willing to help the school. At our last summer fete a local estate agents sponsored our coconut shy and gave us matched funding on the profits. A couple of their sales people currently have children at the school.
  • Approaching businesses based close to the school.

Brilliant! Any other tips? Yes…

  • Make sure you ask for Gift Aid donations when you’re doing sponsored events.
  • If you don’t already have trade stalls at your Summer Fete, think about setting them up. We would charge local businesses £10 for a stall and ask them for a gift for our raffle.

Make sure you ask for Gift Aid donations when you’re doing sponsored events.

  • Ask your parents to find out if their companies do anything to recognise their employees’ charity work. My wife was on the PTA with me. She works for a big bank and they gave the PTA £500 a year in recognition of her contribution. That was money for something we were already doing!
  • Look out for local companies offering the chance to benefit from their charity work.  We’ve just won £500 from our local supermarket for winning their latest Green Token Scheme.  We didn’t have to do anything other than nominate ourselves and as the majority of parents already shopped in the store all they had to do was use the green tokens given to them every time they shopped to ‘vote’ for us. A perfect example that there is easy money to be gained without asking parents to give up their time!
Ken Major, former PTA treasurer

Ken Major, former PTA treasurer for Longwell Green Primary School, Bristol