“What is a Project Narrative and why is it important?” Webinar Now Online

In case you missed the next in Pebble’s webinar series, “What is a Project Narrative and why is it important?” we’ve put it online. It’s a great watch if you’re struggling with grant applications, asking for donations or not even sure where to start!


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 info@mypebble.co.uk.


A Shiny New Pebble Video

“Benefits of Income Generation” Webinar Now Online

In case you missed the first in Pebble’s webinar series, “The Benefits of Income Generation” we’ve put it online. It’s a great watch if you’re new to Income Generation, or not entirely sure where to begin…

Schools & the Environment: the benefits of ‘going green’

Have you been told that you should cut your carbon emissions? Be more eco-friendly? Consider the environment? It’s not just companies that are expected to have an awareness of the impact they have on the environment, schools are increasingly under the spotlight too.

Schools aren’t cheap to run. If your building is old, it will likely cost far more to heat. Then there’s the daily use of the classroom to consider as well as the running of school buses if your pupils are from a wider catchment area.

Being eco-friendly doesn’t have to cost the earth.

hiresIt’s widely thought that being environmentally conscious involves spending money on carbon curbing measures, installing solar panels and investing in costly energy saving technology. In fact, what it can mean for schools is simply cutting back. Being greener doesn’t mean being poorer.

If you reduce the amount of resources you consume and act responsibly with what you do use, you can greatly reduce the impact you have on the environment. If you consider the costs involved in running a school, thinking ‘green’ could mean saving money too.

According to Eco-Schools, “schools in the UK spend approximately £100m on electricity; £106m on water; £39m on cleaning up litter and preventing vandalism; £56m on emptying bins; and £150m on paper and school stationery every year.” So, cutting back really can mean cutting costs.

What’s in it for you?

As well as saving money, being environmentally conscious in schools can extend beyond simple actions; it becomes part of the broader learning structure too. Teaching children about recycling, switching off lights and reducing waste can have a significant impact on them at home as well as at school.

You can get money too. Funding environmental projects is a trend among UK Trusts and Foundations and that isn’t likely to change for a while. Numerous grants are available to schools that wish to run environmental projects from Trusts such as Ernest Cook and Naturesave. Money can also be made from recycling with many companies offering cash in return for goods such as Bag2School and RecyCool. Schools should take advantage of these opportunities while they can!

Where do you start?

Small changes can have a big impact. Recycling, switching off lights, only using the water you need, reducing the amount you print and closing doors and windows are all little things that add up.

Consider running a small environmental project within the school and apply for a grant to run it. Ernest Cook Trust is one of the UK’s most popular funders of environmental projects. They give grants to schools who want to get more young people involved in environmental activities.

There are also free resources available to get you where you need to be. Green Hero is a great example. They offer free resources to primary schools to help them teach environmental education and sustainability.

Pebble’s position

We’re all being asked to do our bit and at Pebble, we’re leading by example. In our office in Newcastle, we’re committed to reducing the amount of energy we use and the waste we produce. We’re so committed that we’ve even put our Environmental Policy on our website for the world to see! We’re making it part of our company culture, being environmentally conscious and thinking about the environmental impact of our actions.

We started by making small changes. So can you.

If your school would like to know how you can generate more income, save money in the long term and access funds for environmental projects, get in touch! Pebble provides tools and advice to schools and academies that helps them do just that.


Pebble have gone all social media!

Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest sector news and posts. You can also get in touch with us if you have any questions or need any support with our products or services. Just use the hashtag #PebbleSupport

FBWe’re also on Facebook! We post photos and updates relating to the great events we attend around the country. We love to get out of the office to promote Pebble & talk to schools about making money – like our page on Facebook to find out where we’ll be next.

Online Payments for Schools – Becoming a ‘Need’ rather than a ‘Want’.

We’re often asked ‘Why should our school have a system for taking online payments?’

Well, let’s begin with the most obvious benefit, that online transactions make payments for dinners, school trips, events, clubs and other items simpler for parents, and more robust and auditable for schools. Additionally, children don’t need to carry cash to and from school, or have it with them on the premises. It virtually eliminates the risk of them (or the school) losing money, and has had an effect on theft and bullying too. This has benefits for the parents, the children and the school.

An additional benefit for the school office is that administrative staff don’t need to count and record envelopes of cash and change. More schools are making the decision to go cashless as the continued rise of shopping and banking online has made electronic transactions far more commonplace and both the school and the parents are now far more comfortable with, and trusting of such systems.

Schools can be resistant for numerous reasons; fear of change, perceived difficulty, lack of need, misunderstanding of the benefits. All these objections are easily answered, but schools are increasingly busy environments and we understand that unless given an opportunity to talk through these issues, it’s difficult for them to see the huge benefits of implementing a new system and new processes. Furthermore, some schools are denied the opportunity to take advantage of an online payments system at the Local Authority level.

Other schools think that parents might not want to use it, or might not be able to use it without Internet access at home or on the move from a smartphone/tablet. This isn’t the case. A huge percentage of parents prefer the idea of being able to pay with a credit or debit card, but if they don’t have one, or choose not to, they can still pay with the more familiar cash or cheque at the school, and have those payments entered by the school onto the system.

Good online payments systems will have email and SMS messaging functions, which allow regular communication with parents in order to build engagement and uptake over time.

It is vital that the school uses both encouragement and incentive tactics to get parents engaged in online payments. They need to make lots of things available to purchase online from day one, but also work to make the ‘old’ ways less appealing by – for example – only accepting cash payments for a short time on a particular day. Schools often provide a computer or device in reception so that those without their own equipment can still use the system, view balances and transactions etc.

Schools must not underestimate the savings of online payments, even if taken up by a modest percentage of parents at first. Online payments should be viewed as having immediate quick-wins, but it’s important to realise that it is an endeavour that requires ownership and nurturing in the medium/long term.

When you consider the time currently devoted to collecting, counting, handling, banking, reconciliation and ‘chasing’ for payment out of the equation, it’s clear to see where the benefits are. Online payments are a huge time-saver, allowing administrative staff to then allocate their valuable time to other projects, but at the same time allows better reporting of payments than traditional systems. It’s win-win.

Online payment systems have increased over the years in their complexity from initially logging only meal payments to now being full parent communication systems through which documents can be shared, messages sent, and an almost limitless range of items made available for purchase. This trend is consistent with a growing recognition in schools that generating and managing their own income is certain to become increasingly important.

The main considerations for a school going cashless are to make sure the change is communicated clearly and in good time to parents, and that the online payments provider makes the system ‘foolproof’ from a parental point of view. Then, to ensure there is an initial, and continuous stream of reasons to use the system, making more and more offers to parents online.

The key considerations from an internal perspective are to make sure that your staff all get great training, take things a step at a time, and be certain that your online payments solution has a seamless interface with whatever systems you choose to track and manage your voluntary income. Online payments are not a ‘leap of faith’ for schools, they are proven, efficient and increasingly prevalent.

Schools with online payments are no longer early adopters, it is those without that are lagging behind.

Funding to boost kids’ confidence and skills for life

As discussions of mental health checks for children hit the news, we decided to ask the question, what can be done to make a young person happier and more confident?

Happiness is the key to a young person growing up to be a successful, well-rounded adult. No matter what age you are – how you feel about yourself affects how you act. This also includes your ability to perform well at tasks.

Most children will have issues with self-esteem during their lifetime. Situations such as starting a new school, moving house and difficulties at home could knock anyone’s confidence – but for a child these things could seem especially detrimental.

Studies show that children who have low self-worth very often do not perform well in school and are more likely to behave badly, as a way of acting out. This is why it is so important that there is a strong support network put in place by parents and schools.

Here are a few grants for schools that we have found to be helpful in boosting a child’s confidence:

Learn with Dogs

A helpful paw from man’s best friend, Primary schools can book a workshop with a Dogs Trust Education Officer. Workshops use the theme of dog ownership as a means to help pupils develop self-esteem, confidence, responsibility, communication and teamwork skills. Pupils also get the chance to meet a friendly dog!


UnLtd: Do It Awards

UnLtd supports individuals who have their ventures firmly rooted in delivering positive social change. They help individuals to create more positive social impact by giving them a special package of support.


The Joyce Fletcher Charitable trust

This trust offers grants for music and arts activities delivered in a social and therapeutic context, particularly for the benefit of children, the disabled and disadvantaged. Preference is given to organisations in South West England, although applications from across the UK will be considered.


Want to start your own project or after school club that focuses on self-esteem or confidence building? Get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do to help get you started.

Call the team 0845 310 1788


The Big Draw

If you want your children to get into some extracurricular activities but are worried about the distinct lack of pennies in your purse, then what can be better than drawing? No pricey guitars to buy or nasty nipping Shetland ponies to contend with. All you need is a pencil and pad to get them started, how easy is that?

The Campaign for Drawing has a goal to get everybody drawing. They believe that drawing can help us make sense of the world around us through artistic expression. It’s enjoyable, calming and can be wonderfully inexpensive.

We’re excited that the annual October Big Draw festival is finally here. Thousands of organisations across the country are running events in museums, galleries and plenty of other places that everyone can take part in. To find out if there are any near you click here.

The Big Draw even has its own Drawing Inspiration Awards – simply enter details of your Big Draw event for the chance to win a cash prize of between £750 and £1,000. The deadline for entries is 6th December 2013.

The good news is that drawing isn’t just for October and it isn’t just for kids to enjoy. School Fund Finder can help you to find grants to buy art materials, computing equipment, clothing and textiles for art based projects. Here are just a handful of grants and schemes that are available:

Ernest Cook Trust: Educational Grants

The Ernest Cook Trust gives grants of up to £4,000 to projects that educate young people about the environment, countryside and the arts. A wide range of projects are considered.


Community RePaint

This organisation collects re-usable leftover paint and gives it away to worthy projects.


Want to find out more or have us help you write the perfect application? Visit us here:


Call the team 0845 310 1788


Funding for School Breakfast Clubs

Schools and parents were collectively shocked last month when figures were released that one in seven children go to school hungry. That’s a staggering 820,000 children with rumbling tummies every week across Britain, seriously affecting their ability to concentrate in the classroom.

This is mostly due to rising bills that are putting a strain on family’s disposable income – and forcing them into food poverty. Reports found that a large number of parents rely on school meals to help feed their children.

School Fund Finder has taken a great interest in this and we have been working hard to find the best grants for you.  We want to help you make your pupils’ lives better and ease parents’ worries.

Kellogg’s Give a Child a Breakfast

Back for another year, Kellogg’s have teamed up with a UK charity called Forever Manchester to deliver the Help Give a Child a Breakfast campaign.  Grants of up to £400 are available to help you set up a new breakfast club or keep your existing club going.

Visit the link below to see if your school is eligible to apply for funding:


Greggs Breakfast Clubs

Good old Greggs have also got their own Breakfast Club Programme for primary schools. They help to provide a healthy start to the day for thousands of children. Visit this link for details:


Magic Breakfast

Magic Breakfast provide free and nutritious breakfast foods to primary schools in the greatest need. Some of their tasty treats include bagels, porridge, cereals and orange juice.


FareShare Food Access Programme

The FareShare Food Access Programme redistributes in-date, quality food to charities and projects across the country. The good news is it also supports breakfast clubs and after-school clubs. If you’re interested please contact your Regional Depot to register your interest in the programme.


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    E. info@mypebble.co.uk

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