There is more to fundraising and organising events at school than asking people to come to meetings and donate money. Some people at your school may not be inclined to spend three hours in the canteen each term, but they may be willing to design a series of posters for your upcoming concert or use their ute to help deliver a load of compost to the school garden.
Most people have a special skill or talent that they are happy to share. Others might have a particular item that would be costly to hire or buy, but that they can easily lend. Even in a small school, the wealth of talent and skills of the parent community (and grandparents) is often an untapped goldmine.
One way to harness this talent is to create a Register of Skills – a database of the ways in which the school community can be called upon. Often parents are willing to help, but they just aren’t being asked to help in a way they feel comfortable or knowledgeable.
The trick to creating a register is to make it as specific as possible – brainstorm as many talents as possible and allow parents to tick which applies to them. People are more willing to tick a specific item they are knowledgeable about, than (over)commit to a general idea which may seem unwieldy.
Note that this is not the time to ask people to commit to certain events or times they are available. This should simply be an information gathering exercise and care should be taken not to terrify parents.
People are also usually quite honest and if asked ‘do you have a ute we could borrow to deliver sand into the Kindergarten sandpit’ they will be able to say yes or no without any hesitation.
When creating the register it is also important to point out that just because parents indicate they have a particular skill or hobby, doesn’t mean they will be asked relentlessly to perform.
It is wise to include a section in the Register of events the person has already contributed to, so they are not over-burdened with requests for help. It is also worthwhile asking parents to complete the register every year, as people change jobs and pick up new skills.
The register can be set up in a number of ways, the easiest being a database in a user-friendly system such as Excel. You can collect the information via a letter that is posted to parents (get them to complete the form and return it to the school) or set up an online survey which can collect the information electronically, such as Survey Monkey.
The following are just some of the talents parents at your school may have –
Personal skills and hobbies:
- Cooking (providing cakes for a stall, teaching cooking skills at a Cultural Day, providing dishes for a Twilight Food Fair, assisting with a Graduation Dinner etc)
- Sewing or crafts (anything from macramé to knitting to pottery, creating items to sell at fetes, teaching skills to students, teaching skills to wider community as part of a School Skills Expo, design and sew sports uniforms or flags)
- Playing an instrument (backing for school choir, help with school play etc)
- Gardening (assisting with the ground staff, maintaining School Garden, tending to seedlings for school fete)
- Calligraphy/writing/illustration/art (demonstration during Book Week, Cultural Week)
- Dance and choreography (for demonstration and cultural displays, teaching children for school play or festival)
- Photography (both amateur and professional, to capture school events, assist in website development, graduation and year books)
- Sports (assist with fun runs, sports training, umpiring etc)
Personal history and knowledge:
(to speak during class/assembly or be guest-speaker at a particular event etc)
- Growing up overseas
- Being in the navy/army/air force
- Working in an unusual occupation
- Personal adventure or hardship
- Other languages
- Accountant (P&C Treasurer or auditor)
- Grant writer or lobbyist
- Designer (design posters, signs, tickets, flyers for a school event)
- Journalists and writers (for PR and promotion, editing and proofing)
- Website/IT (update or maintain the school/P&C website, set up fundraising page, set up Survey Monkey)
- Administration/data entry
- Fundraising and event management
- Being able to offer training or work experience to students
- Childcare (run a crèche during school events to assist volunteers)
- Store/business owners might be able to offer goods/services free or at cost for raffles and auctions
- Trades (painters, gardeners, carpenters, builders, brick laying etc)
- Special licence (ie skippers ticket, mini bus licence etc)
- Vet (free pet check at school pet parade)
- First Aid qualifications (to be on call at school events)
Items to lend:
- Ute or small truck,
- Marquees and tents
- Trestle tables
- Tradies tools and wheelbarrows
- Sound or lighting systems, microphone, PA system
- Disco lights
- Gardening supplies
- Boats, kayaks, tents, portable BBQs (for a camping trip)
- Catering items for a morning tea, sundowner etc such as bar stools, ice buckets, serving dishes
Do you know someone interesting or important who could be a guest speaker at an event?
What other talents do you think should be included in a Register of Skills?