The Daunting Task of Asking for Donations for School Projects from the Community

“Shy Bairns Get Nowt!”135195-e2bc3dbf272d4c91aa84bf0d286f2c34

It’s a popular phrase up here in Newcastle, where Pebble is based. Just in case you don’t speak Geordie, here’s what it means: If you’re too shy to ask, you won’t get anything at all.

It goes without saying that asking your community for donations to a school project can feel awkward. Nobody enjoys the proposition of facing rejection over and over and that is why many projects fail at this step. School staff lack the confidence to approach donors in the community.

However if you’ve picked a project for your school, you already know it’s a winner and donors want to fund winning projects.

The trick is being able to fully communicate or ‘pitch’ your project with confidence.

When one is able to confidently articulate the ‘need’ for the project and what benefits the project will have for the school, the students and the community, it is no longer daunting to ask donors for help as there are fewer ‘nos’ and many more ‘yeses’.

The conversation can either go like this:

“We want iPads for our special needs students. Would you be willing to contribute £5 towards this?”

Or this:

“Many of our special needs students have difficulty communicating with staff which leads to frustration and resulting behavioural problems. Ultimately, time is taken from the children’s education to deal with these issues. There’s an app available for the iPad that helps students communicate with teachers, reducing frustration. It has been shown to have excellent results with 85% of teachers using the app saying it has ‘dramatically reduced behavioural problems in their special needs classrooms.’ We need only £5,000 to get iPads and apps for each of our students. If you contribute just £25, you will be helping our students and teachers have a more enjoyable, learning-focused school day.”

You would be more likely to donate to the second pitch, right? So would others.

In order to identify, define and articulate the need for your project, start by answering the following 10 questions:

  1. Who will your project benefit?
  2. What problem or issue will your project address?
  3. How do you know there’s a problem or an issue?
  4. What is the root cause of the problem or issue?
  5. What evidence is there that your project will address the problem or issue?
  6. Do you have research or statistics to back up your findings?
  7. Have you sought the opinion of your potential project users?
  8. Have your potential users had any influence over this project?
  9. Do you know of any other similar regional/national projects?
  10. If yes, what impact have these projects had on their communities?

Once you have all this information, your project will start to flesh itself out and you will have most of what you need to write your project narrative, which is your ‘pitch’. You can then use your new project narrative for a multitude of things:

  • Put components of your project narrative into your school newsletter, asking for contributions. Highlight how your project will benefit children. You may be surprised at how many community members really want to help make your school a better place.
  • Let Pebble help you put together a donations page on your website where your community of donors can easily donate £5, £10, £25 or even more to your project. Those small donations can really add up quickly.
  • Call local businesses and explain what you’re trying to do and how it will benefit the community. Most companies take corporate social responsibility seriously because it’s the right thing to do but also because it benefits them from a public relations perspective. Being able to publicise that they’re helping local schools and are community focused is good for their business too. It’s a win-win!
  • Use your project narrative to apply for a multitude of grants. Pebble’s Arro software includes the UK’s largest school grant database where you can match your project to different funding opportunities. For example, we currently have over 20 grants listed ranging from £100 to £50,000 for outdoor projects that benefit young people.

You don’t have to be a shy bairn. Get started today by picking a project that really inspires you. When you feel great about your project, you’ve taken the first step to get donors excited and in the frame of mind to help.

For more information on Pebble’s online donation platform, Arro’s database of grants or generating additional income for your school, please give us a call at 0845 310 1788 or at


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