It is easy for busy parents who are working hard to raise funds for their children’s school to forget there is a valuable source of ideas and assistance already within the school: the teachers.
Last year at my daughter’s school, we decided to run a Carols by Candlelight at the end of the year. Spearheaded by the P&C, a couple of mums (including me) took the lead in organising what ended up being a fantastic community event. But because it was the first one in a few years, there was no community memory within the school of how to run one – and we simply made it up as we went along.
One of the major mistakes we made was not communicating directly with teachers from Day One, instead relying on the normal communication channels via senior admin. We were expecting them to teach their classes Christmas Carols yet we did not think to ask to attend a staff meeting, and ask them in person if they wanted to be involved. It was a major oversight on my part.
Hoping to lessen their workload, we had come up with a list of carols we thought might be easy to teach primary school students. A helpful senior student took the list around the school, and teachers selected what they liked. Unfortunately, the pre-primary class was the last one to be visited, and as such they ended up with the most difficult song that no one else wanted.
By the time we visited teachers, there was understandable confusion and upset. Some had gone to great lengths to arrange dancing, costumes and accompanying music, others were not aware they were expected to teach their class the song. We had simply failed to communicate. It was one of those lessons that should have been painfully obvious.
Teachers know stuff
Teachers are a valuable resource when we are fundraising within schools. Not only do they often possess an institutional memory longer than the average parent, they are acutely aware of the talents and needs of their particular classes. As parents, we know our own children, but teachers have a far broader view. They also might remember events that worked (or didn’t) in the past and have a clear view of what items they need your fundraising dollars for.
Keep them in the loop
Teachers are already incredibly busy so it is tempting to not want to bother them or add to their workload. But keeping them informed of fundraising activities doesn’t necessarily require them to put on their sneakers and start door-knocking. Sure, there may be times that teachers are willing to be actively involved in certain fundraisers – for example, they have family and friends and neighbours they might be willing to sell raffle tickets to – but at a minimum, they should at least be kept informed of what is happening within the school (especially if it is distracting kids or taking them out of class).
Follow their passions
If a teacher is passionate about a particular issue, then they are much more likely to motivate the students and possibly other teachers. Enthusiasm is infectious, so it might be worth approaching teachers and seeing if they have a charity they want to support or if they’d prefer a particular type of fundraising event. Some teachers might get behind a fun-run, while others would love to get involved in an art fundraiser.
You’ll never know if you don’t ask.