Generating income and maximising funds

With uncertainties around the cost of living, you might be thinking about how to raise more money for your school. Read on for ways to make the most of your funding and post-Covid premium, how to generate extra income and how schools have put their ideas into practice.

Last reviewed on 26 September 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
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  1. Maximise your funding
  2. Be resourceful with staffing
  3. Use your school site to make extra money
  4. Develop relationships with local businesses
  5. Apply for grants
  6. Encourage parents to contribute if they can
  7. Case study: community spirit through lettings
  8. Case study: discounted rates for the community

The cost-of-living crisis will impact all schools differently. Learn how to manage the impact of the crisis on your school in our other article. This guide will help you find ways to raise more money.

Maximise your funding

Start by making the most of the funding available to you. Have a good marketing plan in place to attract more pupils and fill your published attendance number (PAN). Having higher pupil numbers means your school will receive more funding.

Make sure that as many eligible pupils as possible apply for free school meals (FSM). This will boost the amount of pupil premium funding your school receives. Use our template letter to encourage parents to register their children for FSM.

Check how much recovery premium you are receiving. Schools that are eligible for pupil premium funding are eligible for the recovery premium. Read about post-Covid funding for more information.

You can also carry unspent funding from the catch-up premium from 2020/21 into the next year and beyond. You don’t need to do anything different to do this, but make sure you are assessing the impact it will have.

Be resourceful with staffing

Staffing is where you’ll find you spend most of your budget. To generate and save funds through staffing, you can:

  • Work with other schools to share services, such as site, finance and human resource teams
  • Outsource staff with specialist skills to schools that need the support but cannot afford, or don’t need, full-time staff
  • Employ a procurement consultant
  • Employ a timetabling consultant who will maximise the efficiency of staff and room timetables
  • Hire volunteers

Further reading

See how you can organise a cost-effective:

Use your school site to make extra money

Consider letting out your school premises to generate additional income. You could provide space for:

  • Yoga, pilates and other exercise classes
  • Weight loss and other support groups
  • Evening and weekend adult education classes
  • Children’s groups, such as Brownies and Scouts


You could use your school’s car park to provide:

  • Additional parking facilities for nearby events, such as concerts and fairs
  • Space for car boot sales, where the organiser would pay your school a percentage from each car's entry fee


Think about setting up an on-site café to generate income from pupils, staff and visitors. It could be something as simple as selling coffees, sandwiches and cakes.

IT equipment

Offer printing and design services to local businesses through your reprographics and media departments.

To maximise efficiency:

  • Create a marketing document of the facilities available for hire and send it to local organisations
  • Make sure school staff dealing with lettings respond quickly to enquiries

Further reading

Develop relationships with local businesses

Approach local businesses about sponsoring activities or facilities, such as:

  • Sports events and clothing
  • Prize-giving events
  • Open days
  • Community events

Look into developing relationships with companies under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes. This could give you access to free services such as mentoring, or assistance with small capital building works.

You could also work with retailers and restaurants to earn cashback on purchases of certain products or services. These businesses may participate in this in exchange for promotion to the school community. For example, local restaurants may give your school a percentage of the profits from certain meal purchases.

Look for match funding opportunities

Some companies have a scheme where they match the amount of money raised through fundraising by their employees. For example:

  • Thames Water does pound-for-pound matching up to a maximum of £2,000 for registered charities
  • Experian will match raised funds up to £250 per person per year

Ask parents to check with their workplace if they offer this. Some schemes have terms that only registered charities can benefit from matched funding, but this varies by organisation.

Please note that reference to commercial organisations here does not represent endorsement from The Key.

Apply for grants

Take a look at the funding opportunities available from grant-awarding bodies.

Some are unrestricted, while others are aimed at funding a specific project or purchase, such as building refurbishments or new equipment.

Encourage parents to contribute if they can

Raise funds and make savings by working with parents in your school.

Parents might be able to contribute to fundraising through school fairs or other fundraising events, such as quiz nights.

Another way to generate revenue is to sell items directly to parents and pupils, if it's appropriate in your school community at the moment. This might be:

  • Annual school photos
  • Personalised jumpers with pupil names on the back
  • School merchandise such as stationery, water bottles and hats

Parents can also help in practical ways

If you know your school community is particularly struggling during the cost-of-living crisis, an alternative might be to ask parents to donate their time.

For example, you could ask parents to help with DIY projects, reducing the need to employ contractors or additional members of staff.

Case study: community spirit through lettings

Cotgrave Candleby Lane Primary School in Nottinghamshire has over 500 pupils. Through the letting of school buildings and resources, the school generates additional funds and helps create a feeling of community spirit.

Extended opening and differential rates

The school is usually open until 9pm to host a range of community and business activities. These include Scouts groups, training sessions for local sports teams, cinema nights, and local authority and business meetings.

The school has set different rates for different users: business rates and community rates.

The business rate is:

  • Set competitively
  • Similar to rates for other facilities, such as leisure centres and conference facilities

The community rate is:

  • A lower charge levied for local groups
  • Decided by the governing board if there is debate over what rate should be set

Site staff are responsible for closing the school at the end of evening activities. The site manager has a contract stating weekend working and receives an hour in overtime pay at the beginning and end of each session.

Interacting with local businesses

The school also has a creative curriculum, with the aim of introducing 'real-life' situations to the children. For example, pupils set up mini-businesses as a way of learning about their community.

The school works closely with businesses of all sizes – from small family businesses to large corporate organisations based nearby.

Proactively generating ideas

The school has been proactive in sourcing potential customers for its facilities.

It has approached local sports associations directly, and through marketing campaigns such as:

  • Sending out e-leaflets
  • Displaying banners on the school gates and around the site

It has also sought to integrate itself into the community by approaching local businesses and asking how the school might be involved in their CSR initiatives.

Case study: discounted rates for the community

Paddington Academy in the London borough of Westminster is a secondary school with over 1000 students. The academy remains open in the evenings to host local sports activities. It provides facilities and grounds for various groups and occasions at competitive rates in the evenings, on Saturdays, and during the holidays.

The academy also develops a feeling of community spirit by offering discounted rates for those in the local community.


Nazli Hussein is an experienced school business manager who has worked in both primary and secondary schools. She has a degree in business/finance and a diploma in school business management.

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