Patchwork: Pivot from an online wedding registry and honeymoon fund to hosting virtual fairs for schools.

All fees waived

Patchwork is an alternative gift registry that enables people to contribute cash towards much wanted gifts and experiences or donate their time or skills to help organise special events. So in normal times our platform is used by couples planning weddings and people organising birthday parties, baby showers and other celebratory occasions.

In March last year, along with many other businesses reliant on in-person events, we saw a dramatic drop in user numbers as people postponed weddings and parties. It was a tough time not just as a business but hard to see so many people having to postpone such significant life events.

Being a digital platform did offer some advantages though and one of those was the opportunity to pivot our business to support schools and local community groups wanting to organise virtual events both to raise funds and to bring families together in a safe way online.

The idea of hosting virtual school fairs on our platform actually came from local schools themselves. Schools found that Patchwork had all the benefits of a crowdfunding platform but also the added option to enable the school community to make and do things. And the design and experience of the site – providing a ‘patchwork’ of images to bring to life an occasion – was really appreciated too. People could visit the patchwork page to see the colour and joy of the ‘virtual school fair’ and then click around the various images (or patches) to purchase a raffle ticket, enter a virtual bake off or pet show, or chip in for some new tech equipment for their child’s classroom. It meant families could take part at home safely and donate funds online at the same time.

As a business we usually take a small (3%) commission on all cash gifts given through our platform. But in the last year we completely waived our own fee for schools that used our platform meaning they could keep more of the money that they collected and put it to good use!

It was really a perfect match between the Patchwork platform and the flexibility it offers for this type of event, and schools desperately in need of a way to fundraise whilst keeping things fun, accessible and engaging in a time of great stress and uncertainty. In the couple of months before Christmas we saw a huge number of schools sign up to use Patchwork for virtual fairs, and at a time when we would otherwise have been fairly quiet, we were able to devote our time and energy to supporting our amazing schools, who we knew had worked so hard to try to keep our children safe and continue to educate them over the previous months.

It really felt good to be able to give back and support those that were working to support us all and to have some Christmas cheer in the inbox with all sorts of funny emails and LiveChats… naming reindeers, decorating Christmas cakes and sliming teachers! The feedback we had from PTA, and families taking part was so positive – all in all it gave our team a huge lift knowing that kids and their families were enjoying some collective festive fun in a safe way, and raising much needed cash too.

One of the schools we supported is actually right behind my house and on the last day of term they slimed a teacher in the playground whilst all the kids looked on from their classroom bubbles. One of the patches on their virtual fair was a “dare the teacher” and they had promised to slime him if they reached their target of £150 raised through the Patchwork.

The squeals of delight coming over my garden fence from children who had missed out on so much during the year actually brought tears to my eyes. Knowing that across the country Patchwork virtual fairs had brought joy and excitement to other schools at such a time really was a feel good moment.

Kate Frood, Headteacher of one of the schools we supported:

“Covid 19 has meant a loss of about £10,000 of fund-raising from our usual array of PTA events in the last 6 months, from weekly cake sales to our Summer Festival. This at a time when we have additional expenditures such as the installation of our ingenious outdoor hand-washing troughs and buying new IT equipment. It was so easy to build the Patchwork page and our virtual summer fair looks instantly engaging and attractive. We’ve been able to put together a fun mix of real events and ways of simply donating. It has really captured all our  imaginations and we’ve managed to re-create that wonderful community spirit.”

Photo of example Virtual Summer Fair event page:

Schools can set up their own virtual summer fair by using our readymade template:

Questions? Contact: Rosie Hurwitz:

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