School PTA fundraising hit hard by pandemic

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

The pandemic has cost schools millions of pounds in lost revenue from their parent associations.

The loss is down to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the usual PTA fundraising events – especially summer fairs and the like.

A study from charity Parentkind finds that its 13,000 or so PTA members raised around £80m in 2020 for their schools. However, this compares to £121m raised the year previously.

Furthermore, the PTAs had projected to raise more than £150m in 2020, meaning the pandemic has left them around £75m short.

Summer fairs were hit hardest, plummeting from being the most popular event of 2019 for 45 per cent of PTA members, to being held by only nine per cent of the PTAs in 2020.

It meant that in 2020, the PTAs involved in the research raised an average of £6,187 each – down from £9,006 in 2019.

As the pandemic took hold, many PTAs piloted virtual and socially distanced fundraising events, as detailed in Parentkind’s annual impact report (2021). For example, uniform sales took a dramatic leap during the pandemic, taking over as the top activity for 52 per cent of PTAs.

The report states: “In the face of adversity PTAs were resourceful. Many adapted their plans to ensure they continued to raise as much revenue as possible, as well as keep spirits in the community high. Almost half of PTAs successfully trialled virtual events such as balloon races, and 28 per cent conducted socially distanced events such as Halloween trails, treasure hunts, runs and bike rides.”

Other activities included raffles, Christmas cards, pumpkin competitions, as well as supporting community projects such as food banks, litter picks, food deliveries and clothes banks.

In terms of where PTA money is spent, the research reveals that the most popular contribution PTAs made to schools was in funding educational materials such as textbooks, classroom, and sports equipment.

Other PTAs paid for leavers' gifts/events, outdoor learning areas, playground and IT equipment, health and wellbeing activities, as well as books and furniture for their school library.

John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind, said: “Our PTA members told us that, unsurprisingly, the pandemic was their biggest challenge of 2020. But calls to our membership advisors picked up again from last November, and Christmas fairs became the biggest annual money-spinner for many. More and more PTAs adapted to changing circumstances and renewed their activities, even if this meant holding virtual events.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, added: “Regrettably, a decade of cuts to school budgets means that very often PTA fundraising is making up for a lack of essential funding for schools. Quite apart from fundraising though, PTAs bring a welcome sense of community to any school, organising events that bring people together and put smiles on people’s faces. We’d encourage every adult with a school-age child to get involved with their PTA in some form if they are able to.”

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