If your school or youth organisation is strapped for cash (whose isn’t?!) but you are in need of resources to encourage children walk more and help, you can contact a local business or businesses to ask for help. Many are keen to do something to support their local community and your road safety or walk to school initiative may tick their boxes. Here are some tips to help you plan your approach…
What Do You Need to Support Your Walk to School or Road Safety campaign?
- First, think about what resources would be of most use for your campaign. For example do you need a couple of class sets of high vis waistcoats to use when taking pupils out and about? Or maybe a reflector to give to each child in the school/group which can link in with the road safety messages you are teaching? Or a small incentive for pupils to take part? What kind of product would be suitable for the age group, how will it be used? Be open-minded; a sponsor may prefer to choose the product themselves.
- Be clear in your planning about quantities and consider including any associated groups in your numbers, for example a brownie group may wish to include a rainbow group; a scout group may wish to apply as a district.
- Some sponsors may take longer than others to provide funding so be clear about when you would need the items for if the timing is an issue for you.
Who Can You Ask for Help?
- Although times are tight there are still businesses out there willing to support schools with road safety initiative funding. Think local and start by approaching businesses in your immediate vicinity, those you already have links with or those with connections to governors or parents at the school.
- Some businesses such as Barclays offer match-funding to charitable organisations (such as a parents association or scout group) their employees are involved with.
- Supermarkets such as The Co-operative already have funds put aside from which community groups and charities (eg some schools’ parents associations) can apply for funding to support local community initiatives.
- If houses are being built in your local area, contact the development company as they may be happy to fund your project, especially if the building work is having an impact on local children’s walk to school due to closed footpaths or site vehicles.
- Transport-related companies such as haulage firms may also be interested – some may even like to get involved with your road safety education activities with a visit to demonstrate how lorries have ‘blind spots’.
- Other local businesses which sell products or services to families are also good to approach, especially those that usually find it hard to make families aware of their brand, for example solicitors.
- You may choose to approach one sponsor at a time or several at once to hedge your bets.
How Should You Approach Potential Sponsors?
- A popular approach (if you don’t already know them and can’t simply ask) is a letter from the pupils – this could be something your JRSOs or School Council do.
- An email could also work but be sure to put something catchy and relevant in the subject line and make sure they know it’s a local request, eg ‘Can You Help *insert name of your school* Primary School’s Road Safety Campaign?’.
- Pupils may need guidance to make sure they include key information with their request (who/where they are, what they are trying to do, when and why they need help, how the sponsor could help) but it should be in their own ‘voice’ and style.
What about Logos?
- When businesses sponsor campaigns they often, but not always, want to have their logo, name or website printed onto the reflectors. Although they are ultimately sponsoring because they care about their community, they may also appreciate having their branding included.
- This can often be printed alongside the school name (if it is just for one school) and maybe also a campaign message. Logos can be printed on reflectors if large quantities are being ordered (minimum order for most custom printed reflectors is 250+ from Brightkidz).
- If they don’t want their logo or a special message included or are ordering a smaller quantity they can choose products from a stock range so there is no minimum order (for example 30 owl shape rigid reflectors would be ideal for a local brownie pack).
- From the outset it is good to check that a sponsors logo/brand is suitable for your pupils, consider if parents would be happy with it and make sure sponsorship branding isn’t too heavy.
Planning your Initiative
- Once you have found your sponsor, or sponsors, follow up their positive responses straight away so you can get started.
- Liaise with your sponsor so you both decide who is going to order the resources and who is going to approve any print layouts.
- Also discuss with them how much (or how little) involvement they would like; whether they will attend a launch event or road safety presentation assembly.
- Decide what press and social media you will use and whether you have parental permission to use photos of pupils or not.
- Your sponsors may have their own PR company and industry press but your pupils could also prepare a local press release at least a few days before the event – they may send a photographer, or you may even get a local television news crew!
Giving Out The Resources
- Although the resources are ‘free’ to the school it’s good to make sure the children value them.
- One way to do this is for them to ‘earn’ their reflector, for example by completing a simple road safety quiz, joining a walk to school or taking part in a road safety classroom activity.
- Helping children to be safe and seen isn’t just about giving them a reflector – it is also about providing the education so they understand how the reflector can help them and why they should use it. Hopefully they will also take those messages home when their parents ask them about their new reflector.
They Think it’s all Over…
- Once you have received and distributed your resources there are a few more important things to do.
- It’s courteous (and may help with future requests for help) if pupils write to thank the sponsors. Email them any photos suitable for them to use for their own press releases. Tweet a thank you message via your school’s twitter account.
- Guide pupils in writing a press release to the local newspaper if it wasn’t done beforehand. (They can do two press releases: a ‘what’s going to happen’ beforehand and a ‘how it went’ after the event).
- If your school is taking part in the STARS (Sustainable Travel Accredited and Recognised) scheme, make sure you upload your evidence (photos, copies of press articles etc) to your STARS account.
- Use your school social media and website to record your experiences (more class activity opportunities for the pupils, with guidance). Include it in your school travel plan, eco diary and if OFSTED inspectors pay a visit let them see these records!
ST:EPS Project Links Businesses to Schools:
Pupils from Grange Primary Academy in Kettering received road safety workshops and reflectors courtesy of Angela Stokes of AJ Wills through the Brightkidz ST:EPS project.