Charity may begin at home but it can really start to flourish at school.
Along with supporting a good cause, fundraising for charities through the school community offers a lot of positive benefits for students. Helping those in need not only feels good, but it fosters a sense of responsibility for others in the community. It allows students to understand just how much of a positive difference they can make to those around them.
The first steps on the road to charity fundraising at school can be a little daunting (and a fair bit of work). To help get the neurons firing we’ve put together a guide (with free resources) to make sure you’re on the right path. We’ve also enlisted the support of experienced school charity fundraiser and Brisbane Year 6 teacher Leanne Reid.
Find a Charity That is Close to Your School’s Heart
It’s important that you embrace a charity or event that means something to your school. Maybe there’s a child or parent at your school that is connected to a cause, or a charity that your students are passionate about. It might even be the case of building a shortlist for students to vote on.
At Teach Starter, we support numerous charities as a company and though our employee groups. We have also partnered with the Leukaemia Foundation to produce teaching resources to support the World’s Greatest Shave. Many of these could also be easily adapted to other charities or as stand-alone, curriculum-aligned teaching resources.
For some more ideas you could also read Emma’s great blog on Easy Ways to Support Bushfire Relief.
Ferny Grove State School teacher Leanne Reid, says her school started supporting the Leukaemia Foundation after consultation with the school’s student leaders. In 2019 the school raised almost $20,000 for the cause, hitting the top-twenty World’s Greatest Shave fundraisers for the year.
“We began doing ‘Spray for a Cure’ about 10 years ago (or it could be longer) at the behest of the Student Council,” Leanne says.
“Our success is because the kids make a connection with the cause.”
Donations to the World’s Greatest Shave help support patients with leukaemia and their families by paying for accommodation, care and treatment. The donations also fund research, improve accuracy in diagnosis and treatment, and help search for a cure.
Leanne says: “We are extremely lucky to have a very supportive boss. A couple of years (after we started) one of our deputies said if we raised $1,000 for him he would shave, so that was the beginning of the shaving process. It has continued to grow since then. In 2017 one of our Year Five students had leukaemia so that was the real beginning of huge numbers shaving.”
While there a many important and pressing charities to support, the key to success is choosing a charity or event that feels right for your school and to start methodically.
“The trick is to make it meaningful to the students. Don’t go too hard-core too early,’’ Leanne says. “Ours has just grown over the years and is now an important date on our school calendar.”
The wider your community reach, the greater your pool of resources and, potentially, the more money you can raise.
Over to Leanne: “We encourage anyone in the school community who wants to shave to join our team. There are kids from Year 1 to Year 6, parents and staff members involved.”
“We run colour for a cure (as well as shaving) so all children in the school become involved. Derek Richards, one of our dads who is a doctor and has been involved in research dealing with (leukaemia), was a guest speaker. We have shared stories from parents in the school who have had first-hand experience with the Leukaemia Foundation.’’
Spread the Word
Use emails, newsletters, social media and school signs to tell the world and encourage support for your fundraising efforts. Make sure to involve the P&F and class representatives and encourage those taking part to spread the word.
Leanne says: “Our main promotion is the school newsletter and each shaver basically does their own promotion.”
Set a Fundraising Goal
It’s great to have a realistic fundraising goal in mind but remember whatever you can raise will be a great help.
Leanne says: “This year I think we set $15 000 but normally we just go with the flow and what we raise we raise.”
With many charities, help is just a click away. If you search their websites they often have ideas for fundraising events, resources and tips on the best way to raise funds. There are also plenty of online fundraising platforms you can research. Many charity websites also offer a way to donate money online but make sure you also have a plan on where to park cash donated on the day.
Logistics Are Important
To spread the load and ensure a smooth event it may pay to set up an organising committee for your school charity fundraising. They can either manage the event or work with the children, if it’s a student-led event.
Leanne says for her school’s World’s Greatest Shave day event organisers make sure there are enough volunteers, not only to have their head shaved or coloured but also do the shaving and spraying.
“On the morning of the (World’s Greatest Shave) we spray before school, setting up stations around the school – preps and year ones, twos and threes, fours and sixes and year fives and OSCH. The year 6 student councillors and their friends spray the hair, aided by staff and parent supervision.
“We ask for donations of coloured spray and usually use about 120 (cans) in the morning. We charge $1 for each colour or $5 a full head colour (most make a donation).
“Ensure you have enough people to do the actual shaving … and you also need plenty of towels for the spraying.”
Celebrate Your Success!
You are doing an amazing thing for the community … it’s important to recognise this.
Leanne says the Ferny Grove students celebrate with a school parade: “To add to the morning the admin team have their hair sprayed by the Student Council executive to begin our parade. To conclude the parade all those who have shaved walk down the centre of the hall to much acclaim and high fives.”
Incorporate Into Your Lessons
Along with the obvious benefits of teaching students about altruism and giving to their community, why not also make it an opportunity for additional learning. Some charities offer support with resources, including World’s Greatest Shave.
“Last year I used a book from the (World’s Greatest Shave) website to tell the story of leukaemia,’’ Leanne says.
Our World’s Greatest Shave resources include two curriculum-aligned open-ended maths investigations. One is designed to deepen students’ understanding of financial mathematics and the other is a data investigation. We’ve also included a crazy hair drawing template for the younger students. The associated, age-appropriate lesson plans are designed to support teachers to use these resources.
Ferny Grove State School also uses their event to teach about sustainability.
“We use the services of two of our local hairdressers who run a sustainable hair salon, so the kids gain an understanding of recycling and re-use,’’ Leanne says. “Nothing is wasted – cans recycled, hair clippings sent to be used in the mopping up of oil spills and long hair sent to make wigs.”