Categories
Advice

Top tips for creating a pitch video

One of the best ways to increase your chances of achieving your fundraising target is to make a video. Videos allow Donors to see who you are and get inspired by what you’re doing. They build a more personal connection, which is likely to encourage a more donations.

What makes a good pitch video?

A good video is personal! At its simplest, a good video can just be your students and you speaking into a phone / laptop / camera. Just give people an idea of who you are, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Be yourself & keep it positive!

Example pitch videos

A class led example: St John’s Rocket Fund

Get your students involved, it makes a great project:

A whole school example: Ardleigh Afloat

Get your Headteacher involved!

An Oscar worthy example: [email protected]

They got some professional help with this one…

Our top tips

  • Camera: The one on your smartphone or tablet is enough!
  • Sound: Reduce background noise as much as possible.
  • Light: Lots! Check that the main source of light is behind the camera.
  • Editing: Windows Movie Maker (PC) and iMovie (Mac) are great. Or even try doing it on your phone (the iMovie app is surprisingly effective!)
  • Students: Maybe they could help you create a video?! Remember you’ll need written parental permission if your video identifies individual students.

Can I use music on my video?

Yes, but only if you have permission to do so from its owner!

Alternatively you can use any music from http://freemusicarchive.org/ with artist permission.

Categories
Advice

What should I include in my school fundraising project?

Great question! Follow our advice below and you should be ready in no time.

Here’s a top level summary of what to include:

  1. Your story: introduce your school and your students
  2. Why do you want to buy these things?
  3. What impact will they have?

Read on for a more detailed template!

— // —

Project description template

About us

Introduce your school & your students. E.g. Where are you based?

What do we want?

E.g. We want to buy VR headsets…

Who is this for?

E.g. This is for our whole school, to use across a range of subjects.

Why do we want it?

What difference will it make to your pupils? How will it benefit their learning and help them fulfil their potential?

E.g. Virtual reality will allow our students to visualise their History and Geography lessons more clearly and allow them to interact with subject matter in a totally new way. It will enable them to experience places they have never been, which will…

WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES

List precisely what you want, with costs (including VAT) and a link to each item.

E.g.

  • 6 x iPod touch 32GB Silver @ £199 http://www.apple.com/uk/shop/buy-ipod/ipod-touch
  • 6 x Lightweight VR goggles @ £9.99 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Smartphones-everyone-immersive-experience-Adjustable/dp/B00ZZV7HD2
  • 6x Bluetooth controller for VR set @ £7.19 https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01CWMT6US
  • 1x USB Charging Station @ £31.99 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charging-Station-Merit-Multi-Device-Organizer/dp/B01D9LFTYS

Sub Total = £1,329

+6% payment processing & platform fees

Grand Total = £1,409

HELP US REACH OUR TARGET!

Say what you want here to encourage people to donate and share 🙂

E.g. Please do donate, but if you can’t donate right now you can help us in other ways! Share this project with anyone you think would support us. Share the link at the top of the page on Twitter, Facebook, email, your website, blog, mention us in a phone call or even just a chat over the fence! Please support us and help make a difference to our students.

Categories
Advice

What rewards should I offer?

It’s not about exhausting yourself by giving away too much or making grand promises which will be too expensive to deliver, it’s about showing your appreciation to your donors in an efficient way.

What rewards should you offer?

You could just keep is simple and offer some digital thank yous, e.g.:

1. A thank you message from yourself 

2. A thank you message from your students 

3. Some form of public recognition (e.g. in a video / picture / school newsletter)

Why should I offer rewards?

We’ve found that saying thank you engages donors and can encourage larger donations.

Rewards from previous projects

Here are some example rewards from previous school fundraising projects on Rocket Fund.

Say thanks publicly

Post donors’ names in your school newsletter, give them a shout out on social media, or mention them in the school assembly? It’s nice to get some recognition, and this kind of reward is low-cost, low-energy, and people love it.

Get your students to say thank you

There aren’t many things in life nicer than receiving a handwritten thank you letter, especially one scrawled by a 7-year-old. Could you get your students to write thank you letters / draw pictures to say thank you? (You could scan / take photos of their letters and send via email to save on postage costs!)

Plant a tree

Imagine the prestige you would command with your very own tree planted on school grounds. A great idea from Little Chalfont Primary School in Buckinghamshire, who used this prize to entice larger donations.

Name on a robot / anything

Mintlaw Academy offered donors the chance to become official sponsors and have their names emblazoned on the side of their underwater robots as they went into the competition. Is there anything you could offer that’s similar?

Offer a test drive of the new toys

If you’ve raised money to buy new equipment / technology that adults might enjoy, then why not offer donors the chance to have a go too? They will probably love seeing where their money has gone and it’s not everyday they get to programme a robot or explore foreign lands in VR. It could also encourage more donations in the future.

Tattoo their names on your arm

Ok, we’re just getting silly now…


For more ideas, have a browse through our funded projects here.

Categories
Stories

Branfil Primary School love their new visualisers

We recently visited Branfil Primary school in Upminster to have a chat with them about their Rocket Fund project, how it went and what equipment they had been able to buy with the funds raised.

We met a lovely team of digital leaders who were able to show us around the ELMO visualisers which the school had raised funds to purchase. They showed us first hand how they would make a really big difference in learning across the school.

branfil + elmo 2

The Branfil students had a great time walking me through the various features of the ELMO visualiser and explaining to me how it made a difference in every lesson. The equipment is so simple to use that the digital leaders could very easily use it themselves and were able to explain comprehensively the features.

I had a great chat with Rocket Fund project leader and computing lead at Branfil, Anna ‘O’Toole, we talked about the whole process of crowdfunding through Rocket Fund. Having heard about the project from a neighbouring school who had had great success, Anna found it super easy to use the platform and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, she particularly liked the way that the Rocket Fund project bought the community together and had great fun reaching out to local businesses for their support.

teacher

Ms O’ Toole was thrilled at how easy it was to launch their project and raise the funds needed to buy four ELMO visualisers to use across the school.

As computing lead Anna thought that visualisers were the most needed item for the school, she said that the impact they would have on the school was immense as the current projects were out of date and there were only a few to share between the whole school. Raising funds through Rocket Fund meant that soon they would have an ELMO visualiser in each class!

If Anna’s story has inspired you to create a project, head over to our create page now and get going!

If you would like to find out more about ELMO visualisers and their many uses in the classroom visit their website here.

Categories
Advice

How to use social media to turbocharge your school fundraising

Twitter this, Insta that, Facebook who?! You’ve probably been on social media at least once already today. Politicians use it whilst campaigning, popstars use it to promote their latest singles, and now you are going to use it to turbocharge your school fundraising!

Social media presents the perfect opportunity to share your Rocket Fund project far and wide. We see the largest number donations come from people who hear about the project via social media, so it’s worth sharing!

Here are some quick social media tips from Rocket Fund HQ:

DO – Share your message often. Don’t worry, people won’t get annoyed with you! We recommend sharing news of your project once a day, maybe even twice as your project draws to an end (perhaps by creating a countdown to the deadline!). Often people just check their timeline rather than visiting your page directly, so publishing messages/updates on a regular basis is a good idea.

Do – Vary your messages. Not all donors react to the same thing; while someone will be very happy to donate because your post says that you’ve launched a new project on Rocket Fund, someone else will want to know what the money will be used for. And some people will need a reminder of the deadline to actually donate.

Do – Always remember to include your unique project URL in your social media posts (copy and paste it from your project page).

Do –  Try to include an image along with your posts, or a gif or a video – these are more attention-grabbing and get much more engagement than posts without.

Do – Target businesses who you think might have an interest in funding you: are some of their staff members alumni or friends of your school? Do they have a vested interest in education? Does the organisation occupy the same space as the product you are trying to raise funds for? Or is it simply a local business? Use the @ function on Twitter to directly target these organisations… some of them will the love the attention!

Social media pic2

Do – Use social media to say thank you! Some projects have shared videos of the children saying thank you to the donors on social media throughout their fundraising month, and it helps to keep your project at the front of people’s minds! Also, it’s a great thing for your supporters to retweet / share, so you can massively expand your audience and reach friends of friends.

Do – Use a free bit of software such as Hootsuite (or Tweetdeck for Twitter) to schedule your posts. This means that you can spend a set amount of time lining up a number of posts for the duration of your campaign rather than having to think about it on a daily basis.

Bonus: by scheduling posts, you can reach your donors during the weekend, when they have more time to look into your project and donate, without you needing to lift a finger!

Don’t – Worry! It’s hard to go wrong with social media; as long as you stay polite and in keeping with the values of your school, you’ll be fine and will reap the rewards!

We hope these pointers help you launch your campaign into the social media stratosphere!

Feel free to add any other suggestions in the comments below or share this with your friends (via social media – of course!)

Categories
Advice

School fundraising: making the most of your networks and contacts

How you can boost school fundraising by making the most of your crowd.

Crowdfunding, that’s what the Rocket Fund platform is all about, so let’s have a look at how to make the most out of your crowd in order to boost your funding!

We’ve seen schools all over the country raise anything from £500 to £8,000 on Rocket Fund, some schools reach their target in 40 minutes, others take a few weeks. One thing that we know for sure is that every successful project interacted with their audience or “crowd” along the way.

Ask yourself 3 questions:

1. Who are your crowd?

No school is an island… Before you launch your project, it’s best to do a brainstorm with your whole staff team – ask them who would be interested in supporting your school? Ask your receptionists, office staff, governors, teachers, caretakers, PTA… anybody who will listen in fact.

Put together a master list of contacts and networks that you could approach with your campaign. Think big and wide, include businesses, educational suppliers, local politicians, celebrities, alumni members… Ask all staff to contribute to this list, which could be in a spreadsheet, on your MIS or even perhaps on a big piece of paper on the wall in the staff room.

Let your thoughts run wild and think outside of the box. State schools are notoriously timid when it comes to making the most of their alumni networks, this could be a good time to rectify that perhaps?

2.  Where are your crowd?

Now you have your list of contacts, everyone from businesses to local councillors, to friends in high places and friends of friends in high places (any well-connected governors for example?), it’s time to plan out what approach you will use to contact these people.

Are they on social media? Do you have their email address? Or does a member of your team need to cascade the message out? Does your school have a text messaging service that you can use to contact all parents and ask them to share your message far and wide?

Have a really good think about all of the channels at your disposal and which ones are the best ones for which contacts. Then go gung-ho and get in touch!

At Rocket Fund HQ we think these are probably the best channels to use:

🚀 Emails

🚀 Text / WhatsApp messages

🚀 Messages via school messaging app

🚀 School newsletter

🚀 School social media

🚀 Posters around the school

🚀 Flyers to the students

🚀 Asking your local businesses / high street

If you have any other bright ideas, let us know and we’ll pop them on here for the Rocket Fund community to share.

3. What can your crowd do to help?

The main aim of the crowdfunding project is to… raise funds – absolutely! But how else can these contacts help you?

As well as asking for funds, ask your contacts to share your campaign with their networks, people who might be interested in education or in their local community, or others who might be able to support your project. Remind your crowd that they can share your project simply by copying and pasting your project’s URL.

We hope this has given you a few pointers on the best way to mobilise your crowd. We would love to hear any feedback from you or ideas or ways that your school have been in touch with contacts and networks, please comment below or send us a tweet!

Categories
News

Crowdfunding for schools is just bake sales for the 21st century.

We’re making it easier for schools to fundraise. Here’s why we think crowdfunding for schools is a good thing.

Schools of all kinds have been fundraising for decades. We’ve all paid 50p for a slice of flapjack, £5 for a tea towel and £2 to throw a soggy sponge at a teacher.

A typical bake sale selection. Image via Oakham PTA

While these efforts may be comfortable and fun, they aren’t the most efficient way of raising funds. With school staff time at a premium and the educational inequality gap widening, we think it’s time school fundraising was modernised.

Schools should still host a summer fair or arrange supper safaris if they want to – they are often the highlights of the school’s social calendar (and we all have fond memories of fancy dress days!). Crowdfunding can be used as a tool to compliment a school’s offline efforts, alongside the fun runs and bake sales for example (as shown by this recent project), by enabling people to donate from wherever they are. Crowdfunding can help to promote school events, attract a larger community of support and enable donations from individuals who can’t be there in person.

Crowdfunding for schools enables anyone to donate, anytime and from anywhere.

Crowdfunding connects schools to a wider community, taking the financial pressure away from their immediate community. It enables donations from those who wouldn’t usually be asked, but would love to support their old school, their local school or education in general.

Businesses often find out about projects on social media and make donations just like they did for Oakham school. Image via Oakham PTA twitter.

State schools miss out on £100m per year in donations from their alumni alone

On average private schools raise £667,000 per year, whilst their state school counterparts lag behind: the most engaged state school PTA’s raise an average £8,000 a year and spend 270 hours a year doing so.

Future First’s research found that state schools miss out on £100m untapped cash from their alumni every year. Using crowdfunding to reach alumni members could double the amount raised by PTAs at the moment. Think of all the extra resources and experiences that would enable students to access. It would be transformative.

This is one of the issues our platform aims to fix.

We’ve seen donations on Rocket Fund come from TV celebrities, businesses and alumni. Donations flying in from as far afield as America and Australia, as well as from local communities, who often find out about campaigns through social media, local newspapers or email updates.

You need to sell a lot of flapjack to raise £8,000

Through Rocket Fund you can donate at the click of a button. We’ve seen donations range from £1 to £5000, with individual projects raising up to £8,200 (see the project below!). 

Bullers Wood school raised £8,253 from 287 donors, take a look at their project here.

School fundraising isn’t going away

Whether it’s raising money to go on trips to the theatre, buy new musical instruments or try the latest technology, schools will always want to fundraise. As demonstrated by fee-paying schools.

This is because schools will always strive to give their children the best they can. We should all support them to do so.

If you have anything to add to the conversation, we would love to hear from you. Please either comment below or get in touch!

Categories
Stories

Crowdfunding for Multi Academy Trusts.

In 2019, Kris launched not one, not two, but NINE fundraising projects on Rocket Fund for schools across his trust. Here are his thoughts on the process…

First things first, would you use Rocket Fund again?

“We would most definitely use it again.”

We had used a more generic crowdfunding site previously and found Rocket Fund to be 100% more easy to navigate with a less fussy, more modern and much more simple user journey.

We had a variety of successes over our nine projects some of which were successful and some which were not. We now have a good understanding about why the ones that failed did so and there are things we would do differently, this was almost like a test run.

We definitely plan to use Rocket Fund again in the near future. In fact, we already have a few ideas in the pipeline.

Tell us about your MAT and the projects you ran?

We are based in Lincolnshire and have eleven schools, my task was to fundraise for all of these schools using Rocket Fund, a couple of the schools joined together for a project so there were nine projects in total.

Our schools range from primary mainstream schools though to special schools catering for pupils aged 3 to 19. Some of our schools have high levels of free school needs and their needs and networks are very varied so it was a tricky job getting it right for all of them with a very short two-week turn around.

We ran projects to raise money for items from iPads for a mainstream schools to BeeBots for a rural school and Sensory pebbles for SEND students in one of our newest schools. These were all items which were already on the schools’ wish lists.

As Fundraising Coordinator, I was able to administer the bulk of the projects, with some help from the schools on the ground and also from the marketing team, who helped with getting the word out.

I worked with the schools on the ground to create pitches and project pages and we went from there!

One of the nine project pitches for C.I.T academy.

Did you experience any stumbling blocks?

It really was a very simple process. Initially, we received some push back from some staff members who were not keen to run projects which might ask for funds from our direct community. In a way these initial fears fuelled us to take a more active stance on looking outside of our community and asking other organisations and businesses to help us with our funding.

Speaking of which, did you interact much with the local community or businesses?

Rocket Fund gave us a reason and purpose with which to contact lots of organisations and was the perfect excuse to re-ignite previous relationships which we had let slide. It was great to get back in touch with local organisations including The Rotary Club and also with individuals who had been interested in the school previously, and let them know we were running a project.

It paid off and we received a number of donations from businesses and organisations who were more than happy to support various schools with their Rocket Fund projects. We are now back in touch with them and looking forward to nurturing these relationships.

We were also really impressed as a number of organisations caught wind of our Rocket Fund projects on social media and were very forthcoming with making donations!

Tell us about the methods you used to contact ‘the crowd’ during your Rocket Fund campaign?

Once the project was up and running we leaned on social media quite heavily to get the message out and about – which was great. Not only did we use Facebook and Twitter, we also used Linkedin to great effect – especially for contacting local businesses. In the last few days of the campaign we also made a few phone calls to local businesses and sent some emails to drum up a few more donations.

When you run your next Rocket Fund campaign, what will you do differently?

Planning and… planning. We only found out about Rocket Fund two weeks before we launched nine projects, so it was quite a whirlwind. When we do it next time, we will make sure that we have a plan in place which will include lots more interaction with individual schools. I would definitely take more time to speak with teachers and staff in the schools and to get them to help contribute towards the campaign story.

In the interim, as an internal process anyway, we will be getting all of our networks and contacts organised so that when we do have Rocket Fund projects to share, it’s nice and easy!

So, prior to Rocket Fund what methods were you using to raise funds for the Trust?

I’ve been in post for the last 18 months, prior to my being here it was the marketing team’s job to try to organising fundraising, which was really difficult for them to fit in to their already stretched timetable, and was often something that wasn’t given enough focus.

Since I’ve come on board I have been able to focus much more on grants and fund applications – which is our main source of income, my second largest focus is on crowdfunding and this is something I will be building more and more into my strategy in the coming years.

We also have a number of PTA’s spread out over the Trust, they tend to undertake more traditional methods of fundraising, like summer fairs, which are great – but take potentially hundreds of hours to organise – I will certainly be passing them over details of Rocket Fund to use alongside their other efforts.

And lastly what kind of fundraising target do you have for a typical school year?

Well, to put it into context – last year we raised around £100,000 and we are hoping to double our efforts in the next year or so, Rocket Fund is going to come in very handy for my future strategy.

See C.I.T Academies projects here, feel free to get in touch with either Kris or ourselves.

Categories
Advice

15 brilliant school fundraising ideas!

We know how hard it can be when you are trying to come up with ideas to make the most out of your campaign, and sometimes trying to come up with new things can be quite draining! We thought we would lighten the load by sharing some top tips and ideas that we have unashamedly stolen (thank you very much) from some of our best projects…

1. Try crowdfunding (via Rocket Fund)

Obviously, we were going to say that! We just want to make it clear that by using the Rocket Fund website you will massively increase your chances of raising your target amount.

This is because:

  • People can give as much as they like and donate anonymously if they want to (we’ve had donations ranging from £1 to £5,000!)
  • People can donate even when they’re far away (we’ve seen donations fly in from America and Australia)
  • It expands your network: people are encouraged to donate and share, which can really increase your reach

Once you’re on Rocket Fund, you can still do all the fun, offline school fundraising activities too! Here’s a selection of our favourite school fundraising ideas from previous projects:

2. A sponsored swim

Ardleigh Green wowed us with their project “Ardleigh Afloat” (top prize for hilarious project name!), which showcased perfectly how to engage the whole school in their special challenge, as teachers took part in an open water swim. The school communicated the teacher’s efforts via the ‘Updates’ area on their Rocket Fund page, which were shared with all supporters throughout the campaign. In the end, they raised a whopping £4,000 for their school – go, team!

Teachers celebrate completing their swimathon

3. Contact local businesses

Portlethen School cleverly roped in their students and managed to squeeze in a bit of literacy as well (nice touch), as students wrote persuasive letters to local businesses to bolster their school’s fundraising efforts.

porty school

4. Contact a local celebrity

Know any celebrities that are based close to your school? A famous alumni member maybe? Not only can these be a handy source of funds, but they can also help to amplify your message, especially on social media.

Don’t forget to say thank you! St Gabriel’s Ormesby‏ did this successfully, then tweeted their thank you letters to Bob Mortimer and Steph from BBC Breakfast.

gabriels

5. Become a celebrity yourself… Get on local radio

Local radio stations are always looking for ways to get in touch with their communities, especially schools. Make the most of this exchange and get your project promoted on the radio, it’s a great opportunity for children to learn about media and communications too!

Oakham Primary School announced their fundraising project on Rutland Radio to great effect.

rutland radio

6. Or get in the local paper

john hampden.png

Just like John Hampden Wendover School did.

7. Get your PTA involved

The experts of school fundraising, they are your secret weapon and the easiest way to get your fundraising project off the ground. Never underestimate the power of the PTA to engage, enthuse and galvanise the school community to meet your fundraising needs. Ready, Set… Fundraise! Just like Oakham school did.

8. Organise an event

You have the perfect audience right there in waiting, parents love events that children can go to, and children just love events! Engage your students in promoting the upcoming bingo night, fete, fair, auction, including making posters and telling all of their friends and family about it. Harness the power of the children for this one and get the whole school community involved, just like Portlethen School did.

porty school event.png

9. Or more specifically a BINGO night ….

Bingo

10. Give people cake (and ask for money in return)

Ye olde cake sale from yonder year still rings true today. It’s a tried and tested method and it brings in money to add to the Rocket Fund pot. You know how it works, but this time, promote it on social media and maybe sell some cyber cakes via Rocket Fund to people who can’t attend?

eat cake

11. Go a bit Blue Peter – build a totaliser

Dunblane Primary used a timeless technique to further engage their audience and to visually communicate how far along they were on their fundraising journey. They created a totaliser to track their fundraising efforts and to inject a bit of competition into the proceedings. Great for sharing in assemblies!

dunblane

12. Shave something off

Know someone who has a beard? Longish hair? Copious amounts of dignity? People love it when other people shave things off and ask for money in return. If there is no hair to be shaved, take a slice of that dignity by getting them to do something downright ridiculous like sitting in a bath of beans/jelly/custard/whatever you like. Oakham School got their legend of a teacher Mr. Knight to do just that!

Oakham Shaved face.png

13. Ask school suppliers

Look to your school suppliers to donate and encourage some philanthropy from those who you have built trusting relationships with. They do, of course, have your best interests at heart.

business

14. Create a silly song (that might go viral!)

Make your audience smile and laugh and smile again. Woodley C of E School did an amazing job of that as they made a well-known song their own and used it to share their message.

15. Get your friends involved

Actors (tick), cameraman (tick), great concept (tick)… you’re ready. There are resources and very helpful people all around you. Children, staff, and volunteers at Monquitter Primary School worked together to create this amazing film with super high production values which attracted lots of interest and ultimately donations!


Fundraising is an opportunity to engage the whole of your school community; it can be fun, it doesn’t need to take too much time and it can all be made easier if you use Rocket Fund to assist you!

For more inspiration, to create your own, or to support another project visit our project pages here.

*This post was originally published on the Nesta blog.