Five Key Steps for Creating an Income Generation Plan

Does your school want to become financially resilient against the continual budget cuts
the education sector faces? It’s a dream for some schools and a reality for others. What makes those schools that can generate £50,000 a year different to those that don’t?photo-1450101499163-c8848c66ca85

In our recent national survey, 95% of Headteachers and School Business Managers said that Income Generation was ‘important’ or ‘very important’. However nearly most schools generated a comparatively disappointing amount through their income generating activities. When these respondents were interviewed, the single biggest reason they gave for poor results was a ‘lack of time’.

If time is what schools need then how do you make time? To put it bluntly….you can’t! If I could then we’d be in a different business altogether. So what’s the next best thing? You have two options:

  1. raise the priority of the task in question, therefore dropping other tasks and re-allocating time or
  2. become more time efficient and get more done in those precious hours.

As 95% said that income generation was a high priority, let’s work on the latter. Where can efficiencies be made? What do you need to realise these efficiencies?

We need a plan.

Planning is something that we do everyday. Sometimes we are not even aware that we are doing it. Planning is the process of thinking through the different steps needed to reach a desired end state or goal. Without a plan, the chances of reaching your goal or desired outcome are low, hence the common saying ‘If you fail to plan, you should plan to fail.’

Here are my five key things to remember when creating your own income generation plan.

1. Have a Visionexpand
Take hold of your school development plan and create a one-liner from the school vision that you can easily and clearly communicate to others. A vision is the most powerful tool a leader can own. Your vision will allow you to galvanise supporters and keep them motivated in times of slow progress. Visions create a big picture and are aspirational with a utopian feel about them. They might not be achieved in your lifetime but will provide focus for generations to come. Spend time getting your vision right and use it wisely. A vision is like north on a compass; change it and people can lose their path.

Example: To become the UK’s most forward thinking school with an aim to prepare our children for a rapidly changing world.

2. Set Mission Goalslist
If your vision sounds intangible then your mission goals will help you explain to others how you intend to achieve it. Mission goals break your vision down; what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and whom you’re doing it for. It still needs to be punchy, you can use bullet points and there should be no time limit on your mission goals. See your mission goals as a high-level summary of what you do on a daily basis.

Example: To equip our children with critical thinking skills, global perspective and respect for core values of honesty, loyalty and compassion.

3. Define Projectsaddress_book
Vision and mission goals cost nothing to create but delivering them will take money. If you want people to support your activities and make donations then you need to tell them what their money is going to be spent on. When deciding which project you should undertake, ensure you think about the outcomes it will deliver and how they relate to your mission goals and vision. What will be different after this project is delivered and how will you measure this? How will you tell your supporters about your success? Finally don’t forget to let them know about the activities that will help raise funds to deliver this project. If the vision is looking into the distant horizon then projects are looking at the path beneath your feet.

Example: We plan to install an Inter-school Web Portal which will be used by our children before, during and after school. The Inter-school Web Portal will be used in partnership with our twin school in Nepal. We will alternately host two lessons every week with our twin school that focus on developing critical thinking skills and collaborative working. It’s our aim to deliver on our mission goals whilst improving technology and communication skills. Within ten months the children will showcase their ability to set-up and host Inter-school connection with a second school of their choice. This showcase will be demonstrated to parents, community members and local businesses with a live carol service between the three schools at our school’s Christmas Fair.

4. Create Activitiesbox_check
Schools are traditionally great at creating activities. Activities are your summer fairs, clubs and fundraisers which will raise money for your projects, which in turn will deliver on your mission goals, which contributes to your vision. Make sure you create a range of activities that don’t exclude those supporters who can’t visit your school. Where I see big mistakes made are when schools spend huge amounts of time on an activity and don’t factor time as a cost. If you’re not commercially savvy then find someone who is. Those schools that make the biggest return on their time investment are entrepreneurial. Those that aren’t either fail or end up subsidising the project from an already tight budget. Don’t make this mistake and create both financial and time plans for any activities you do.

5. Tell Supportersspeech_bubble_exclamation
Your plan should include communication. When you’ve done all this good work don’t forget to tell others. It very easy to push your keyboard away after you’ve spent all this time writing your vision, mission goals, project and activity plans. Your work is not done. This is where you must pick up your megaphone because you won’t get supporters sitting in the back of your chair. Social media is the cheapest and most powerful mega-phone that can reach billions of people. If your vision truly resonates with other people then Twitter, Facebook and the internet will allow you to connect with them. Make some decisions about your supporters and the best channels to reach them on. If you can’t update every social media channel every day, then don’t. Pick one channel and do it well. When you’re able to recruit a supporter to help you with the next channel then add it in afterwards.

In conclusion, we have seen all sorts of plans from different schools on how they are going to generate additional income. Some are 100-page documents and others are just two sides of A4. Both can work to keep you focused and effective. More importantly, a plan can be passed to others and they can use this plan to understand what’s inside your head. Being super efficient with your time is one thing but if you can use your plan to empower others who have time; that’s a whole new level. Maybe your issue with time is not that you don’t have any but the fact you are unable to share your workload with those that want to help.

For more tips on Income Generation get in touch with us at 0845 310 1788 or We’re experts on finding creative ways to get more funding using less time.

Tips For Funding a Beautiful School Garden

Spring has sprung at Pebble HQ! We have our windows open wide and have been trading tales of recent Sunday afternoons spent digging in our respective gardens.

We’re not the only ones feeling the pull of the outdoors. Pebble have had many calls from schools who want to add lovely outdoor spaces including sensory gardens, vegetable gardens, outdoor library areas and even a

It’s no wonder. Being outdoors has wonderful benefits to both health and well being for pupils including: fresh air, reduced risk of a multitude of health baddies, stress relief, mental clarity, a feeling of community and giving back to the Earth. What’s more, if you have a vegetable garden there’s one more added benefit…yummy fresh food!

Donors know this and absolutely love to give money, time and resources to gardening projects. Here are a few ways you can let your garden inspire those around you to get digging:

  • Send a note out to parents about your garden plans and ask for their help. Many parents love to get involved in projects like this that benefit the school and ultimately, their child. They may be willing to donate money, supplies, equipment or even their time to get you started.
  • Visit retailers in your community to see if they would like to help. B&Q has a Community Reuse scheme to donate items to schools; you just have to visit your local store.
  • Scour the internet for freebies that may be of use in your garden. For example, Grow Your Own Potatoes will send you a free potato growing kit for you to use when you register!
  • Enter competitions such as The Harvest-ometer Challenge (London-only). Good old competitive spirit is a big driver for some. Use that to your benefit to get even more donations.

If you carrotswant more tips and tricks, links to other freebies, competitions and grants or if you’d like to get started with our Funding Passport which will get your gardening project ready and put forward to donors in just two weeks, give us a call on 0845 310 1788.

The Importance of a Project Narrative

Your project narrative is the foundation of all of your income generation efforts. Not only does it give you a framework for grant applications, it can also be used as part of your other income generation activities. A strong narrative may encourage more people to engage with your school and therefore, further increase your income. See below how you can maximise your income generation with a strong project narrative:Female hand writing on a sheet of paper

Clubs: The income you generate from the clubs at your school can be used for your project. With a clear project narrative in place, it can be used within the club and distributed to parents to inform them of how the club is helping your project.

Donations: If you have a donations page, you can use the project narrative to describe what you are raising money for.

Events: Use some of your project narrative on promotional posters, flyers and literature for your events to raise awareness of your project and to make supporters aware of how they are contributing to your project by attending the events.

Grants: Your project narrative can be used and adapted to apply for multiple grants. Once you have a clear project narrative that outlines each aspect of your project, you will be much more likely to secure funding.

Lettings: If you advertise your lettings through your website or through local media, you can use aspects of your project narrative to explain what project the money from your lettings is funding.

Services: Your project narrative can be used within your services portfolio to explain to customers how they are helping your project by purchasing your services.

Sponsorship: When approaching businesses for sponsorship, your project narrative will be a useful tool for explaining the project to them. Furthermore, if you have already set up a sponsorship deal, the text from your project narrative can be used on their website or literature.

How to write a Project Narrative?

At our workshop, ‘An Introduction to Income Generation and Grant Writing’ you will have begun to write your project narrative with the guidance of your workshop leader.

However, please do not feel that once you’re back at school that you are on your own! We are here to help you every step of the way. As you write your project narrative on our Arro system, our dedicated copywriter will give you regular feedback. Then, once your narrative reaches 75 % on Arro, you will receive bespoke feedback from our copywriter so that you can complete your narrative with confidence.

Starting with ‘why’ is the best practice when writing your project narrative. Why have you decided to undertake this project? Why do you want people to attend your activity?  ‘Why’ is the foundation underpinning the reason for your school, what your school aims to deliver and the difference your school is going to make. One of the best ways to identify the need for your project is to ask yourself why five times. That way, you will get to the core of your reasons for pursuing your project and will identify the key need.

Consultancy Option

If you would like a project narrative written for you, a Project Narrative Draft can be
purchased for £55 per hour. A professional draft of your project narrative, written iStock_000070911049_Fullby our in-house copywriter,  will save you time and strengthen your chances of securing further income. For £55 per hour, you will receive  a detailed discussion of the aims and objectives surrounding the project, a sharing of research and resources and a complete draft of your project narrative written for you by our copywriter. The estimated time to produce a project narrative, from inception to completion, is four hours.

Don’t Just Take Our Word For It!

We could write all day about the benefits of project narratives, but don’t just take our word for it. Many of our customers have found success thanks to their strong project narratives.  Read about our success stories below:

John Ruskin School, Jonathan Verity, School Business Manager:

“From start to finish, Pebble remove the complexity from grant writing and support you along the way with helpful tips and advice. With their help, I’m now confident about successfully generating income and funding streams for my school.”

Millfields Primary School, Nina Hearty, Teacher:

“I found the experience of completing a narrative for my project an interesting and worthwhile task. The process allowed me to focus and identify clear aims for the project and work collaboratively with others to create a shared vision. Arro staff were consistently quick to respond to my requests for guidance and support and were always able to offer very helpful and detailed advice.”

The Redeemer CEP, Maggie Duncan, School Business Manager

“My biggest success was applying for an Awards for All grant. We were awarded £10,000 towards an IT projects and I believe that this success was mostly due to Pebble.”

So, What Are You Waiting For?

You have already made an excellent start by reading this article and beginning your narrative at our workshop. Log onto your Pebble Arro account to add to your project narrative. If you would like some feedback, contact our copywriter, Lucy at:

We look forward to hearing from you!

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