A complete guide to school trip finance and fundraising ideas

Cost shouldn’t be a barrier to an unforgettable experience for your students. Explore the many ways a school trip can be financed in this complete guide.

School trips offer an unforgettable experience and an unmatched level of immersion for students of any age. Whether your pupils are speaking a foreign language with a native, visiting key historical sites, or witnessing scientific phenomena in person, a school trip can bring your curriculum to life.

With the rising cost of living, however, pupils, their families, and their schools may be finding it harder to justify the expense of a trip — but this needn’t be the case.

In reality, there are several options available to schools, students, and parents for financing trips. In this guide, we’ll explore the funding options available, from grants schools can apply for, to fundraising ideas for students.

Do I have to pay for school trips in the UK?

Payment requirements for school trips in the UK will depend on the nature of the trip.

Mandatory residential trips that form part of the national curriculum, as well as trips relating to examinations, will be funded by the school.

Optional trips on the other hand, such as school trips abroad, will typically require some level of funding from pupils and their families. Despite this, schools may be able to fundraise money to make these costs more affordable for individual pupils.

The fundraising mix

A school trip doesn’t need to rely on one single source of funding. Instead, a combination of sources could provide the finance for the trip.

Financing your school trip in this way makes it easier to overcome any setbacks caused by a funding option falling through.

Examples of the various fundraising options include:

  • Grant fundraising
  • Crowdfunding
  • General fundraising: As a school
  • General fundraising: As individuals

We’ll explore each of these routes in the sections that follow.

Grant fundraising

Several grants are offered by organisations throughout the UK. These grants provide funding towards a specific purpose, such as a school trip, often based on certain criteria.

To get a grant towards your school trip, you will need to:

  • Find a grant
  • Confirm that you fit the criteria
  • Apply for the grant

While this may seem intimidating at first, there are organisations that can help. We have recently partnered with FundEd, a UK organisation offering services around school trip fundraising. FundEd can help you generate additional income streams, create an effective fundraising strategy and deliver successful campaigns.

With that in mind, let's dive into the grant fundraising steps in more detail.

Finding a grant

To look for a grant, you may want to try one of the following approaches:

  • Research past applications made by your school and contact the provider of any successful grants to discuss your current goals
  • Manual research through the internet, identifying funders and reading through the information provided on their websites
  • Enquire with other schools and ask for recommendations
  • Work with a funding consultant, who will often initially work for free and then charge a fee for helping with the application, taking a commission if your application is successful
  • Look into local sources such as your council, charities, the local PTA, local businesses, and more
  • Use a funding database, such as the FundEd database, which allows you to search grants by education level, category, region, and more

Applying for a grant

When you apply for a grant, your chances of success come down to your eligibility and the strength of your case.

As a result of this, writing a compelling bid is an essential part of the grant fundraising process.

To help with this, consider the following:

  • Do any parents, governors, or staff members have prior experience writing bids for grants?
  • Research past successful bids for the grant, what have they done to stand out and succeed?
  • If the grant requires a charitable status, consider contacting the local PTA for support

If you are successful in your application for the grant, keep the funder updated with progress on how the grant is being used. This will help to establish a relationship, making future bids stronger.


Through online platforms such as Crowdfunder, it may be possible for schools to run a fundraising campaign that collects donations from members of the public.

The aim here is to attract a large number of small donations that total larger amounts. For example, if a local community of 5,000 people were to each donate £2, this would produce £10,000 towards a school trip or related project.

Of course, nobody is obliged to donate to a crowdfunding campaign. The success of the initiative therefore comes down to how effective the campaign is, both in terms of reaching potential donors and encouraging them to support the fundraising effort.

When creating your project page, FundEd has an excellent guide on crafting a compelling and effective campaign page.

In addition to this, FundEd also offers its online fundraising platform, Funding Wall. This allows you to develop crowdfunding and regular giving campaigns, create other fundraising and donations pages, highlight lettings and other sources of income, and create a community page for local businesses and other support.

Talk to our team for more information about setting up your own Funding Wall.

General fundraising ideas for school trips: As a school

Of course, while grants and crowdfunding can provide a huge benefit to school trip finances, nothing beats a good old-fashioned fundraiser to give pupils a sense of excitement and involvement in helping to raise money for a trip.

There are many ways to fundraise as a school, below are some examples to spark your inspiration.

Bake sale

A bake sale is a classic school fundraising activity, through which pupils and their families bring cakes and other baked treats from home, which are then sold to the wider school during break time.

Fun run

Fun runs can be a great way to promote healthy living and exercise while raising money for your cause. Simply invite the whole school to participate and charge a small participation fee.

Car boot sale

Hosting a car boot sale at the school can be an excellent way for students and their families to dispose of unwanted belongings in an ecologically friendly manner, without needing to throw them away. The profits of any sold items can then go towards the school trip fund.


Raffles and lotteries can be particularly effective for fundraising, especially if the prize pool grows the more people buy a ticket.

A great example of this is a 50/50 raffle, in which 50% of the money raised through ticket sales goes towards the fundraising cause, while the remaining 50% is available as the grand prize. The benefit of this approach is that it can snowball in popularity as more people sign up and the prize starts to grow.

You could also supplement the prize pool with smaller gifts for runners-up to sweeten the deal further.

General fundraising ideas for school trips: As an individual

In addition to fundraising activities carried out as a school, it can be beneficial for students to undertake independent fundraising. Not only does this give them a sense of pride and achievement in hitting their fundraising goal, but it also teaches them valuable lessons about earning money in the process.

Below are some examples of independent fundraising activities pupils may consider.


Gardening can be a great way for students to earn money, help the local community, and spend time outdoors. This could be anything, from simple tasks like raking leaves or weeding flower beds to more complex tasks for older pupils, such as mowing lawns.

Sponsorship letters

A sponsorship letter is a way for students to request funds from local businesses and people in the community. Typically, the business would have a vested interest in the fundraising cause. In the case of a school trip, it may be a local business that operates in a field relating to the subject of study.

In any case, a student’s sponsorship letter should include the following information:

  • The student’s name
  • A description of the fundraising goal
  • The overall budget the student is aiming to raise
  • An incentive for the business to become a sponsor, such as being featured in a newsletter that goes to all parents
  • A call to action, such as a way to get in touch and donate
  • A strong closing statement that shows gratitude for their support


For older students, tutoring younger students could be an easy way to earn some additional cash and help fellow pupils in the process.


Similarly, older students may want to consider babysitting in their local community as a way to raise money, while helping parents of other pupils.

Ready for your next adventure?

When you book a school trip with Next Generation Travel, you get support from our team of experts around all areas of your trip, including planning and funding your trip. To get started, contact our team for a quote on your next trip.

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