INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: Member viewpoint - Corporate fundraising for schools can make a real difference to lives

Kieron Nolan, development officer of Education Extra

Schools want to produce numerate, literate, inquisitive, aware, articulate, confident, skilled and generally well-rounded young people. It's quite a mouthful, let alone task, especially considering they have to deal with the national curriculum, meet government targets and compete with other stimuli such as games consoles and pop stars like Gareth Gates.

Although the Government recently pledged support for schools wishing to innovate and try out radical ideas, there is a great deal of work being done through the education system that is supported by the voluntary sector.

In order to innovate, however, school staff need to have freedom over their budgets and generate money through fundraising activity.

Corporate organisations with social responsibilities often like to give to schools as a way of investing in their community, and, increasingly, companies are keen to discuss with schools the objectives of funded projects and provide volunteers for one-to-one reading or mentoring.

As somebody relatively new to fundraising and with a corporate background, I find corporate fundraising fascinating. From personal experience, I have found corporate community affairs officers humane people who are eager to learn more about helping young people. Visiting projects and showing the effects on children's learning strengthens the relationship and can lead to a long-term partnership.

The effect on the ultimate beneficiary, the young person, is a joy to observe, whether it be the advancement in the reading age of a refugee child or hearing an underachiever in maths say they now enjoy the subject.

With this in mind, all the work that goes into striking that happy balance between corporate and school is worth it.

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