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  • Writer's pictureDan Wilson

Investing in education: the vital role of fundraising for UK schools and MATs | Dan Wilson

Dan Wilson, Director of Education

Dan has a career spanning 20 years in education, sport, and the charitable sector. He has worked as a teacher, consultant, director and then founder of a community interest company. With a strengths based leadership philosophy, Dan supports several organisations as a trustee, including Rotherham United’s Foundation, and is Chair of Governors at an academy in Yorkshire.

At Oaks, Dan specialises in supporting schools and trusts to strategically grow, operate more efficiently and better support children’s development.

In the education sector, the saying "knowledge is power" is often used. However, empowering students with knowledge requires more than just outstanding teachers and well-equipped classrooms. It demands a supportive infrastructure that often hinges on effective fundraising efforts. In this article, I’ll explore the importance of fundraising for schools and the pivotal role it plays in supporting central services of Multi Academy Trusts.

Bridging Financial Gaps

One of the primary reasons fundraising is vital for schools is its ability to bridge financial gaps. Despite the allocation of funds through government budgets and educational grants, many schools still find themselves lacking resources to provide comprehensive learning experiences. Fundraising steps in to fill these voids, enabling schools to acquire essential supplies, update technology, maintain facilities, and even offer extracurricular activities that enrich students' educational journeys. Despite the government claiming education funding is at its highest ever level, many campaigners say that schools are struggling with the essentials, with spending freezes regularly preventing the purchase of essential items like pencils and glue.

Enhancing Educational Opportunities

Fundraising opens doors to a plethora of educational opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible. Through donations, sponsorships, and events, schools can finance field trips, guest speakers, workshops, and other enriching experiences that supplement traditional classroom learning. These activities not only broaden students' horizons but also foster critical thinking, creativity, and social skills essential for success in the modern world. Many schools rely on their Parent and Teacher Association. However, this is a big responsibility for volunteers that regularly struggle with membership numbers and significant time commitments.

Supporting Central Services

While much attention is rightfully directed towards students and classrooms, the importance of supporting central services within MATs cannot be overstated. From administrative staff to school improvement professionals, these behind-the-scenes heroes ensure the smooth operation of schools. Fundraising efforts that support central services can contribute to more efficient services, more effective recruitment and retention, higher quality procurement of services and maintaining a safe and conducive learning environment for all.

Unfortunately, as these functions are far less tangible than school trips or boxes of new books to traditional funders, central services are significantly harder to raise funds for. One solution could be the Department for Education’s  Trust Capacity Fund (TCaF) and Trust Establishment and Growth fund (TEG), both aiming to support MATs to grow. TEG through providing start-up funding for projects in their initial stages and TCaF for trusts once growth projects are approved.

Fostering Community Engagement

Fundraising initiatives serve as catalysts for building strong, supportive communities around schools. Whether it's organising charity events or crowdfunding campaigns, these endeavours bring together parents, staff, local businesses, and other stakeholders in a shared mission to enhance education. Through active involvement in fundraising activities, community members develop a sense of pride and ownership in their local schools, fostering a culture of collaboration and support.

Encouraging Innovation and Excellence

Innovation is the lifeblood of progress, and fundraising provides the means to fuel it within educational settings. By securing additional resources, schools can invest in innovative teaching methodologies, curriculum enhancements, and specialised programs tailored to meet the diverse needs of students. This commitment to innovation not only cultivates a culture of excellence but also equips students with the skills and knowledge required to thrive in a rapidly evolving world.

Oaks are currently working with Endeavour MAT in the West Midlands to harness their staff’s creativity and provide a business case to help the Trust develop a product or products that can be sold commercially. While not traditional ‘fundraising’ as such, this model of income diversification will be increasingly required if cash strapped schools are to maintain the high standards demanded of them by their communities and the government.


Fundraising for schools is not merely about generating revenue; it's about investing in the future of our communities. By supporting central services and enhancing educational opportunities, fundraising efforts play a vital role in empowering students, fostering community engagement, and driving innovation within educational institutions.

As we recognise the immense value of fundraising in education, schools must continue to innovate and look outside of the box for opportunities. Sometimes the best ideas come from within but may require external support to develop and capitalise on. In this increasingly competitive sector, schools must operate more like businesses and effectively diversify their income. It’s unfortunate, but the sector must become less dependant on Government funding to be able to ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to the world.


Oaks is currently supporting MATs to apply for up to £200,000 TCaF and TEG funding to pay for central services including promotion, establishing professional networks, processes such as IT, finance and HR, training and continuing professional development for staff and paying for new staffing posts within the central trust team. Applications are open from 1st March to 25th June. They also offer bespoke business planning and growth strategy services, including bid writing retainers and consultancy.

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