Step by step Your first challenge is to schedule a suitable date and time around existing school events, PTA events, lettings and other commitments! Consider the needs of your target audience – in winter it’s dark by 4pm, so will they want to travel home after that time? Once you know the capacity

of your venue, move on to refreshments. Source potential donors or, if your school kitchen can provide refreshments, seek sponsorship to cover the costs. Work to a budget of £1.50 to £2 per head. Decide whether you will charge

for tickets or run a free event, perhaps inviting donations on the day. If selling tickets, consider how you will collect payment – especially from those with no existing connection to the school. Marketing is vital – do you have

a database of grandparents you can contact and how can you reach a wider audience? An email to parents asking them to share details with grandparents might yield some uptake, but older generations may be more likely to respond to a physical flyer. Contact your town council, GP surgeries, churches, retirement homes and local branches of organisations such as Age UK or Carers Support. Include contact details in all

marketing collateral and invite guests to book a place in advance via email or phone. This will help you manage numbers, both for venue capacity and catering purposes. Discuss the format with the

people running the entertainment. As a gauge, 40 minutes of dancing, a 40-minute break for refreshments, followed by another 40 minutes of dancing, works well. Many guests will arrive early and want time to settle, so aim to be ready 15 minutes before the event officially starts. Make a note of students with

special requirements, for example you may want to keep those with nut allergies away from food preparation, and avoid having products that obviously contain nuts (such as coffee and walnut cake). Know how many students

you need (say two serving per table, plus a few on the door welcoming guests and others helping to prepare food). Draw up a list of jobs that need doing on the day for both adult volunteers and students – from laying tables to taking drink orders.

Rising to the occasion n Welcome guests at the door and

ask them to sign in. n Once everyone’s seated, run

through the format of the event and

point out emergency exits and toilets. n Explain that each table will have

its own waiting staff. n Introduce the dance company and hand over to them to start

the dancing. n At the end of the interval, mention any fundraising the school is undertaking and let guests know

how they can support this. n Half-way through the second half, get students to hand out feedback

forms and pens. n At the end, thank everyone for coming, thank the dance company and any sponsors, and let guests know about any upcoming events or how they might keep in touch (website listings, Facebook group and so on).

The icing on the cake Anticipating and meeting guests’ needs will build engagement and encourage support for future events. Will you offer gluten-free and vegan options? Is your venue within easy access of a disabled toilet? Tablecloths, cut flowers and

low-level lighting can transform a school hall and disguise utilitarian canteen tables. Contact local hotels for tablecloths and cake stands, and ask electrical suppliers about donations of festoon lighting or portable downlighters. Think laterally and capitalise on

the opportunities you have created. Seek feedback from students (using a quick Google quiz or Survey Monkey) about whether they enjoyed the experience and are likely to volunteer for future events. Send a press release to local publications. Share the success of your event on social media and in an email to parents. Follow up with guests by emailing out a summary of feedback. Thank them for attending and let them know about other opportunities for them to engage with the school, for example careers talks, reading with students or running after-school clubs. Nurturing relationships with those who have more available time and disposable income than parents might yield unexpected benefits!


n Letter to grandparents n Letter to parents n Volunteer sheet n Guest sign-in and contact sheet n Guest feedback form n Risk assessment

FundEd SPRING 2020 43

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