Income generation within schools shouldn’t be a fragmented, ad-hoc activity, but an area of key importance to be approached strategically. With government funding harder to rely on, sensible schools aren’t taking chances on the hope that their funding situation will improve. Instead, they’re proactively identifying ways of sourcing independent revenue that can contribute towards their essential activities and day-to-day operations.
However, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Some schools send staff to fundraising workshops; others buy into grant databases, engage external consultants or even employ their own in-house marketing and revenue generation staff. Yet all this activity can be taking place with only a handful of people within the school able to clearly explain what the plan is, and what any income generated will actually be used for.
Make your projects resonate
The first step is to identify the school’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities that can be influenced and threats that need to be challenged. Determine what the school actually needs in the short and long term, in line with the school development plan, while reviewing your budget. Then consider how those needs can be presented in a way that will attract the interest of potential donors, grant providers, sponsors, parents or the local community.
Take time to understand which areas of school life resonate most with stakeholders and promote them. Trying to generate income ‘for classroom IWBs’ won’t hold the same appeal as the imperative to ‘raise literacy and numeracy attainment’. You might need IWBs to do that, but they’re ultimately a by-product of the overall goal.
Get your story straight
With your key projects identified, interrogate the case for each one by asking pertinent questions. What exactly is the issue and why is it a problem? What needs to be done to address it? What difference will the additional income make, and how will any success be measured? Doing this internally should make promoting those projects among your stakeholders much easier. The more people can repeat the same consistent story, the more often it will be heard. New funding opportunities may then start to materialize, or at least become easier to identify by a wider group of ambassadors for your school.
Go for low-hanging fruit
Income can be generated though various means, including fundraising initiatives, grants, donations, sponsorship, organised events, clubs and lettings. Identify which will likely generate the maximum amount of income versus the minimum amount of effort. Focus on activities where existing expertise and resources within your school will enable a quick win.
Nazli Hussein is a freelance school business manager with experience spanning independent, maintained, academy and free schools; for more information, visit sbm-support.me or follow @sbm_support