Covid wipes almost a third off academies’ fundraising income

Charity Parentkind said PTA fundraisers upped their hours last year, but suffered from cancelled events and less lucrative virtual ones

Charity Parentkind said PTA fundraisers upped their hours last year, but suffered from cancelled events and less lucrative virtual ones

24 Jun 2022, 5:00

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Academies’ income from donations plummeted by a third last year, as fundraising efforts were ruined by the pandemic.

Schools Week analysis of Department for Education data shows they received £145.4 million in the past academic year in “donations and voluntary funds”.

It marks a significant drop on the £163 million raised the previous year, and an even larger 32.2 per cent fall on pre-Covid levels in 2018-19 of £214.6 million. 

The average academy raised £14,909 last year, compared with £24,348 two years earlier.

It comes in spite of rising academy numbers, and chimes with separate figures shared with Schools Week by Parentkind, which represents parent teacher association (PTA) fundraisers.

In data released to mark National PTA Week, the charity suggests that PTA income has almost halved on pre-pandemic levels. It estimates that associations raised £60.8 million for their schools in 2020-21, down from £79 million the previous year and £121 million the year before – a 48.2 per cent decline. 

The average PTA reported making £4,367 less than usual in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Parentkind highlighted the cancellation of traditional fundraising events, with 56 per cent of members reporting virtual events were less successful than in-person events – despite efforts to innovate. Only one in ten said they had been more successful.

Ten per cent said the Christmas fair, typically the most successful annual event, had managed the same feat this year. Twenty-nine per cent said a raffle was their top earner.

John Jolly

Now the charity fears PTAs “face the risk of being impacted by the cost-of-living increase, meaning that families and well-wishers will struggle to donate as much”.

But John Jolly, the charity’s chief executive, said the £369 million PTAs had raised in three years remained “admirable”, and falling income “hasn’t been for want of trying”.

Fundraisers gave “almost two million hours’ worth of volunteering time” in 2021, which was more than in 2020.

Official figures suggest income from donations and other voluntary funds fared far better in trust central teams than at academy level – increasing from £25.3 million to £34.5 million.

The average central team also raised £12,998 in 2020-21, up from £8,792 in 2018-19.

The rise could reflect growth in the size or number of trusts, and increased pooling of income or centralisation of fundraising.

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