Autumn can feel like a magical time of year – everyone is still fresh from their summer break, the trees are turning red and gold, and it’s still mild enough to pop a jacket on and kick through the leaves! It’s also the perfect time to start your fundraising year with a PTA event that the whole family can enjoy – and we’ve come up with some fun ideas to inspire you!
One of the most popular dates to hold an Autumn event is Halloween. Many PTAs host fancy dress discos complete with spooky decorations and ghoul-themed food and drink. You could also hire face painters and sell glow sticks or other Halloween themed treats. There are loads of ideas for decorations, food and crafts on our Pinterest board.
If you don’t fancy a disco, how about a “decorate a pumpkin” workshop (painting or carving, the choice is yours!) or maybe a pumpkin trail treasure hunt – hide pumpkins around the school grounds and follow clues to win a prize. Or if you’re feeling creative, a cupcake decorating and Halloween crafts session?
Picking your own pumpkin is becoming really popular in the UK too, so why not organise your own Pop Up Pumpkin Patch? You could join forces with a local grower for a profit shared event, or even grow your own to sell! Or if you’re short on time, head down to the local supermarket and stock up, pumpkins can retail for as little as £1 each (or the supermarket may be able to do you a deal.) Add some tasty treats for the kids, hot drinks for the grown ups and maybe some themed colouring or activities, and you’ve got yourself a great Halloween fundraiser!/p>
If you want to organise an event that involves the wider community, a Bonfire Night extravaganza could be just the ticket! A firework display by a professional company may seem like a large outlay, but could also prove extremely profitable, particularly if you lay on lots of extras. Sell glow sticks and light wands, have warming and easy food like a hog roast or BBQ, jacket potatoes or hot dogs, and offer sweet treats like popcorn, candyfloss, toffee apples and sweet cones. You could even organise a lantern parade!
Selling non-refundable tickets in advance will guarantee you won’t lose out in the event of inclement weather. Read our Bonfire Party blog for more ideas and safety tips.
If you fancy a change from the usual Halloween and Bonfire Night events, here are some alternative Autumn fundraising ideas:
Autumn fete – a chance to welcome new families and get the year off to a flying start! This could be held indoors or outdoors depending on the weather. Or consider hiring a circus to visit the school which is a great all-weather event (especially if you sell tickets in advance!)
Diwali party – with tasty Indian themed food, Bollywood dancing and colourful saris
Oktoberfest – organise a beer festival and ask local bands to perform
Ghost walk (for older children) – ask your local theatre group if they can provide some spookily-trained actors to tell a ghost story on a ghoulish evening walk around the local area!
For a whole community event such as a firework display, you’ll want to sell as many tickets as possible to maximise your profit. Advertising around the local area will be key to your success, so printed banners displayed in prominent areas, leaflets and posters, newspaper adverts and local listings in “What’s On” guides are essential. If a high street shop or business will sell event tickets on your behalf, this will also help spread the word and encourage on-the-spot purchases! And if you’re already signed up to PTAsocial, you can also sell tickets online!
For a smaller school-only event, posters and/or leaflets are still a must, along with adverts in the school newsletter, parent texts and letters in book bags. Make sure to give parents plenty of notice about your event, and encourage them to sign up and volunteer via PTAsocial by chopping the tasks up in to manageable half hour chunks. Most people can spare 30 minutes, right?!
Many hands make light work!
A lot of PTAs tell us how hard it is to get new volunteers on board. But by following a few simple rules, you could see lots more parents chipping in instead of the same people helping out at every event!
The first rule is to be really clear about exactly what needs doing. A fear of the unknown stops a lot of people getting stuck in, so be upfront about what you need people to do, and how long you expect to need their help for.
Chopping up the workload into smaller amounts is also vital. You’ll get lots more offers of help for a 30 minute slot on a stall than a 3 hour shift! Of course, if you’ve already signed up to PTAsocial you’ll know all about this already. And if you haven’t – what are you waiting for?! Our free app helps schools make the most of its amazing parent community, minimising admin overheads and taking away barriers to volunteering. What’s not to like?!
You don’t need us to tell you that a PTA event takes a LOT of effort to organise! So what are the best ways to maximise your profits?
Well, many Treasurers tell us that the key to success is running your PTA as if it were a business. Buy supplies in bulk and work out your profit margin per item – if you can make a decent profit on most things, you can afford a few treats that will be “lost leaders” but the kids will love.
Gaining sponsorship for your event (or even your PTA) can bring in profit for very little effort. Ask parents if they run, or know of, a local shop or business that would be interested in the chance to advertise to a whole school of parents (and potential customers!)
Donations can also bring in a healthy sum. If the PTA are asked to run a refreshments stall at any school event, try leaving a donations tin next to the tea and biscuits – Grandparents in particular can be very generous!
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