Funding residentials – strategies for ensuring programmes are affordable and sustainable

Key features

  • Practical funding advice - from schools
  • Practical fundraising advice - from 'experts'
  • Sharing experience

We knew from conversations with the Learning Away coordinators in our schools, and through their planning, that the 13 partnerships had been thinking about how to make their programmes affordable and therefore sustainable beyond PHF’s support and involvement. We wanted to get them together to share their experience and ideas, but also have access to external fundraising expertise in this area.

We invited Alex Brooks-Johnston (Chief Executive) from Wide Horizons and Donald Ritchie, Strategy and Planning Advisor at the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, to join us for the day. It was a packed and very useful day full of information, advice and learning. What follows is a summary of our learning from the day.

The Learning Away schools already had a range of successful existing ideas to help sustain their programmes:

  • Options provided by schools to spread residential costs over periods of time backed up by flexible systems such as internet payment (one Learning Away partnership uses the Tucasi online payment system).
  • Incentivised parental savings schemes from the informal to more formal Credit Unions;
  • Using the Pupil Premium to support young people whose families would otherwise struggle to meet the cost of residentials.
  • Using volunteers – older school students working towards leadership or Duke of Edinburgh awards, university students studying education, governors and people involved in local voluntary organisations.
  • Student-led fundraising e.g sponsored activities, cake sales, etc. that PTAs then match-fund.

You need to be strategic and organised to attract external funding:

  • Make your case for support transparent, compelling and passionate within a clear vision – it must meet needs in your school/locality and show how you meet those needs.
  • Plan your fundraising carefully – think about your vision, objectives, strategy, tactical plan, budget and monitoring.
  • To raise money, you will probably need to spend (or invest) some money e.g. on materials, time, communication, admin, etc.
  • There are many different ways to fundraise (e.g. trusts, individuals, statutory organisations, community sponsorship, corporate sponsorship) – be strategic about which ones you choose (think about your resources, timescales, contacts, etc.).

People give you money for the difference you make, not what you do:

  • Collect evidence of impact and benefits – know and show that you are making an impact.
  • Tell the story – be able to give the big picture showing activities and impact and individual stories of change and potential.

The idea of ‘Philanthropy Events’ caught a few people’s imagination:

  • This brings together partners from business and community around a project to talk about sustainability.
  • Fundraising is an important focus of the event but time, resources and skills the group can provide are equally as significant.
  • These events also promote collaboration between different sectors and, as this can be unusual, they can generate press interest.

Read more about how residential programmes can be funded and what some schools are doing to make them less expensive here.