Voluntary funds: what can they be used for?

Read guidance from the Charity Commission and our education experts on using voluntary funds. See examples of how schools use their funds, including cases where the school is registered as a charitable organisation.

Last reviewed on 6 June 2023
School types: All · School phases: All
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  1. Check with your LA or the ESFA
  2. Advice for schools with charitable status
  3. AP academies can hold voluntary funds, but PRUs cannot
  4. Converting to academy status: what happens to the fund?
  5. Schools with registered funds: examples 
  6. Use of the voluntary fund: example

Non-public funds might be called something else in your school – for example:

  • Private funds
  • School funds
  • Unofficial funds
  • Governors’ funds

For ease, we’re using ‘voluntary funds’ in this article.

Check with your LA or the ESFA

Maintained schools should check with their local authority (LA) for guidance on spending their voluntary funds. A representative from the Department for Education (DfE) told us this.

Academies should contact the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for guidance if they have specific questions about how the funds should be spent.

Spending should relate to the reason the funds were raised

There's no central rule on spending voluntary funds, but any spend from any type of school should be defendable and proper.

For example, spending voluntary funds on a