If you are looking to involve parental input into financing your programme then you will need to also consider how you will be managing the admin and monitoring contributions. This section looks at the options available to you.
There are three main approaches to managing this task that you can take, as follows:
DIY – Self Administration
To manage donations effectively you need an efficient system for collecting and recording donations or payments. You will also need staff with the capacity to keep track of the accounts, handle parental amendments or queries and produce the management reports needed to ensure information about the programme is available for the Senior Leadership Team, the Governors and the auditors.
Because contributions to the programme will usually run for two or three years, you also need the ability to accept and manage regular payments. However, if you are collecting via Direct Debit, or taking credit card payments, there are important regulations that you are legally required to comply with.
CC – Collection Contractor
You may already use a contracted payment collection service for school meals, trips etc. It is possible that they could also be used to manage your programme. This will depend on the type of programme you are planning to run and how flexible this service provider can be, what many of them can’t offer is the flexibility and reporting that a donation programme needs. You may end up with more work than you would have had running it yourself! They also cannot offer the additional income opportunity of Gift Aid that can make a significant difference to a programme.
Charity – Donation Management Services
If you are worried about the workload and cost involved in collecting regular parental donations then the good news is that there is an affordable alternative to doing it yourself. The Donation Management Service (DMS) is a service run by the Learning Foundation for schools that are running a Gift Aid compliant programme.
Using this service will enable you to benefit from the additional Gift Aid income from the Government without having to become a registered Charity yourself. The service can also take away almost all the administrative burden of collecting donations from parents.
What other schools do
To help you with your decision making here are a few observations and thoughts from schools that have chosen to use the DMS option to manage their administration needs.