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Most small businesses rely on their local community to get them started, and so are usually more than happy to give back. Here’s one way that you can.

Parents with young children or anyone who has done any fundraising before will know that it’s the local Chinese restaurant that you turn to first for some fundraising assistance.

Amy Miller, a mother from Sydney’s inner-west, realised that’s exactly what her children’s P&C was doing and decided to turn that into a business.

In June 2012, Miller established her new site SocialSchool, a place where parents could come together to help fundraise for their children’s schools and share their business know-how. “Being a parent of primary school students initially inspired me to start SocialSchool. I found myself attending more social events for parents and meeting a lot of local consultants and business operators from my own school community. The playground before bell time started to become a social and business network for the parents. I was keen to capture this opportunity into an online model that would keep parents connected as well as bring benefit to the actual school our kids attended.”

The website, which allows parents to register and receive newsletters based on their local area, connects both parents who are business owners and local small businesses with the parents of a school. The site is also designed to raise money for schools. “SocialSchool negotiates great dining deals with local restaurants which parents and class groups can redeem in a selected month. When parents dine with a participating SocialSchool restaurant, a refund from the total food bill is given back to the group to donate back to their school. This provides value to the school and more reason for school groups to socialise,” says Miller.

Businesses and schools have been quick to get involved, with parents from over 40 schools from Sydney’s inner-west, east, north and south registering and parents who own local businesses have been joining in turn. “I know parents who have used the school business register to source an architect to look over renovation plans on their home and I even used a graphic designer in Leichhardt, hoochiemamadesign.com.au, to design my launch invite and other marketing materials!”

For businesses looking to get back in touch with their local area, SocialSchool could provide a path to reaching out to the community, says Miller. “Business can connect easily through their listed school via the SocialSchool website. If it’s not listed, we will aim to get that school into the network. Businesses can provide a special offer for parents and their local public school. For example, 10 percent of sales in a particular month will be fundraised by that business for the local public school. It will be listed for free on the school business register and featured through e-communication to members.”

While the business register is primarily for school parents in business, other small businesses can also feature for a small fee. “Small business can benefit greatly by being more visible in the local area,” says Miller. “Interestingly local primary schools and parent communities are very local focussed. At this stage of my family lifestyle (with young primary kids) we don’t tend to go further than five kms from home! So the local small business community provides quite a lot of services and needs. The aim is for small business in the area to find a way of benefiting and providing support to other groups and networks, and the school network is a prime example.”

For more information on the SocialSchool, visit the website.

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Rhiannon Sawyer

Rhiannon Sawyer

[NB: Rhiannon Sawyer no longer works for Dynamic Business]. Rhiannon Sawyer is the editor for Dynamic Business online. She also looks after online content for Dynamic Export. She loves writing business profiles and is fascinated by the growing world of homegrown online businesses and how so many people can make money in their pyjamas.

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