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NFER March 2020
NFER March 2020

How to boost school funds via the internet

March 3, 2020, 7:30 GMT+1
Read in 8 minutes
  • Lindsey Marsh explains how you can let the web work for you...
How to boost school funds via the internet

Across the UK, thousands of schools are fundraising to subsidise core costs. They are organising events, applying for grants, appealing to sponsors and even campaigning for donations, to fund new resources, building refurbs, school libraries, clubs, trips and more.

But beyond these methods of active fundraising, online commission schemes are also helping schools bring in funds, but from pots of money that advertisers have. From internet search engines to price comparison websites, here are some additional ways your school can raise money:

Affiliate schemes

Schools can generate income, by signing up to affiliate schemes (also known as associate programs or affiliate marketing). In short, these schemes allow you to earn money off your school website, simply by promoting another business and earning referral fees.

There are thousands of e-retailers offering their own affiliate schemes, including big companies like Argos, Amazon and eBay.

To find an affiliate scheme, schools can either contact businesses direct (and enquire about any schemes they have), or see what schemes are available on an affiliate network like Anwin or Web Gains.

How affiliate schemes work: simply search online for schemes and check and compare what is on offer. If there is a scheme you like, carry out due diligence and if you are happy, sign-up.

You will then be sent a unique weblink (or HTML code) to paste a link or banner into your website (and even on social media).

When people visit your website and click on the link, they will then be diverted to the merchant’s website, where they can shop as normal. If they place an order, your school will then earn a commission (usually based on the amount they have brought).

Different merchants offer different commission rates so shop around for ones you like and always read the fine print before signing up.

Most schemes pay around three-four per cent commission, however Amazon pays up to 12 per cent through its associates programme and school clothing label supplier Stamptastic pays 30 per cent commission and a free £22 voucher to schools that sign up at stamptastic.co.uk.

As well as raising money, affiliate schemes can help you raise awareness of products or businesses of key value to your school community.

If, for example, there is a particular book that teachers recommend or a school uniform company you work with, then you could use affiliate schemes to help parents buy the items they need and fundraise in the process.

Or if students need key ingredients for cooking club, or a kit list of items for a school trip, then you could post the list online and direct them to affiliate stores where they can buy these items from.

Obviously, you would need to see what schemes are available and make thoughtful decisions about what products you promote and who you partner with, but these schemes present additional ways for your school to raise money.

Shopping fundraising sites

Schools can also enjoy commission by signing up to a shopping fundraising site that works with multiple retailers.

EasyFundraising for example, is the UK’s largest shopping fundraising site; launched in 2005, it has already raised over £29 million to help good causes.

Give as you Live is another platform, and to date, they have helped raise over £11 million for thousands of causes.

If schools register, with either of these platforms, supporters can shop with over 4,000 retailers, including big name retailers, travel companies, insurance companies, hotels, mobile phone companies and more.

Unlike individual affiliate schemes, supporters themselves choose who they shop with, so your school cannot be seen as endorsing a particular brand.

With even more choice of retailers, your school can potentially raise more donations too. The commission schools earn, depends on the retailers your supporters shop with, but in general they usually receive between 0.5 per cent and 10 per cent donation of the purchases made.

Bleasby School Friends Association, for example, have raised over £12,500 on Easyfundraising and they only have 150 students! Thousands of schools, PTAs and other good causes are signed up, but many are still unaware of the commission that these sites can help contribute to your school.

Specialist shopping websites

Easyfundraising is a general shopping platform and beyond these, there are specialist ones too. Charitable Bookings for example, is a travel website that gives back.

The organisers donate 30 per cent of their net commission to help good causes, when people book hotels using their website. Over half a million charities are signed up and according to one charity Best Beginnings, this site helped them raise over £5,000 in less than three minutes.

Fundraising search engines

As well as earning commission through affiliate schemes and shopping platforms, schools can also fundraise through search engines like EasySearch or Everyclick.

Every time your supporters search the internet using Easysearch for example (and click on a search result), they can raise 0.05p for your school.

According to EasySearch, the average searcher raises £25 a year using their platform – if an individual can raise this amount, imagine how much students, parents, teachers and the rest of your school community can help you generate!

Millions of pounds are being raised through these search engines and thousands of schools are signed up. If your school is not yet one of them, then check them out as they are basically paying your school, every time your supporters search the web.

To set this up, register your school or cause with a fundraising search engine you like. Your school will then be given a unique fundraising page. Share this page with your supporters and invite them to search the web and save it as their homepage (or bookmark it).

Fundraising price comparison websites

Schools can also raise money through price comparison websites. As well as offering general shopping platforms, sites like Easyfundraising and Give as you Live also help supporters compare prices and switch their contracts for insurance, energy and broadband.

In addition to this, schools can also create fundraising pages on price comparison websites like SwitchAid.

This not-for-profit website, allows buyers to compare offers for energy and telecoms contracts and to see where savings could be made. Every time someone switches suppliers and nominates your school or cause, SwitchAid then passes commission (paid by advertisers) to you.

It’s quick and simple for schools to register and you can share your fundraising page with parents, staff, governors and even local businesses too.

Benefits of commission schemes:

  • Supporters can enjoy the joy of shopping as well as fundraising– they can ‘buy’ and ‘give’ at the same time.
  • Supporters don’t have to go out their way to help – they can fundraise by simply going about their everyday things.
  • They don’t cost your school or supporters anything.
  • Retailers pay affiliates a commission, as a “thank you” for bringing them business.
  • Money can add up over time – “every little helps”.
  • Once set-up they can help generate money for years.
  • You can fundraise with zero efforts– some websites refer to them as “set and forget” schemes.
  • It’s a form of passive fundraising.
  • They can provide unrestricted income.
  • The funds can make a real difference to your school.

Lindsey Marsh is author of The School Fundraising Handbook.

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