Few things feel better than helping raise funds for a noble cause, especially if it has anything to do with kids – and that’s precisely what school fetes are all about.
Still, don’t let the enthusiasm and anticipation of fete fun fool you: staging a charity event may sound like a piece of cake in theory, but it’s a completely different pair of shoes once the board of parents and teachers lands the responsibility for the fair organisation in your lap. To see the fete prep through to the end successfully, you’ll need to plan each and every move well in advance and keep an eye out on quite a few things.
The good news is that you can hack fun fair staging like a pro, even if you’re a total beginner, by sticking to tried and tested tips you’ll find below.
1. Pick the date carefully
If you want the fete to go down in school history as the best fun fair ever, opt for a warm month and triple-check the weather forecast when picking the day to schedule the event. The date and time you’ve chosen for the fete shouldn’t clash with another school or local gathering, national holiday, or a similar event such as a major sports match or world championship.
Also, be realistic about the amount of time it will need for you to put the fete together: a fair staged in a slapdash manner won’t raise as much cash as the one that’s well thought-out and organised accordingly.
2. Armed for a rainy spell
Though the fete will take place on school grounds, you should make sure the school hall or gym is available and ready to take in all the fair staples and guests. As hot and sunny as the fete day may be, it’s always better to stay safe than soaked in case a few stranded clouds decide to join in on the fun.
Also, notify the authorities about the fete at least a week in advance so that they would be able to divert traffic or provide police officers for event security purposes.
3. Budget hammering time
The fete budget is one of the fun-fair aspects that will require an extra dose of care. You should hammer the fair budget in place by defining the fundraising target based on the amount of cash raised the year before.
To stay on the safe side of the fundraising agenda, go with a target 10% higher than last year’s revenues, and see if and where planned expenses fall within the ballpark. In some cases, the final costs can fall short of the anticipated mark, so it’s safer to set the target amount slightly higher (but not unrealistically high, though).
4. If the fete committee fits
The fete won’t come together all on its own, and you’ll need to appoint a committee to oversee and coordinate each stage of the organisation. You can appoint committee members for each event aspect, such as finance, marketing, sponsorship, donations, catering, risk management, entertainment, venue, refreshments, and stalls, and volunteers.
By delegating authority, you will be able to handle the work with greater ease and speed while allowing other parents to feel they can make a valuable contribution to the common goal.
5. Promote the fete like a pro
Everyone’s on Facebook these days, so it may be a good idea to set up a dedicated page, event, or both and get everyone from the school to like or follow (and preferably share it, too). You can use the Facebook page to express gratitude to individuals, businesses, or school teams for their contribution to the event staging.
The page will also allow you to keep your followers up-to-date about organisation progress and post pics and videos to help spread the enthusiasm. Also, you can drop a note about the upcoming fair in the school newsletter, and consider announcing the event via local newspaper or radio station.
Finally, you can hand out flyers and put up posters at prominent spots around the city and get other school mums to spread the word about the fete.
6. A friendly hand in need
A handpicked committee is the safest guarantee all the vital aspects of the event will be covered 24/7, but even with the committee’s selfless assistance, you’ll still need a few helping hands to see the prep work through without hitches. Don’t hesitate to post a call for volunteers on the school and/or fete Facebook page, ask other parents to help out with the fair staging.
Also, you can try and include school communities in the fete by having the venue include a hoop shooting tournament featuring school basketball stars, dance performance by the school dance troupe, and have the arts and craft teacher help with decoration making.
To nail the fete game, you can also ask a popular local band to perform at the fair opening for free: it will help local musicians win new fans while dialling up the event turnout and revenues.
7. The sponsorship sparkle
When setting up the fete committee, don’t forget to appoint one or two of members who’ll be in charge of sponsorship-related tasks. The sponsorship team will approach local businesses and try to convince them to contribute to the fair by donating cash, prizes, or equipment for the fete in return for publicity points, advertising space, or honourable mentions.
If you don’t want to rely on the power of charity marketing tactics, you can also try and barter sponsorship as packages which entitle sponsors to fete signage, stalls, prospecting, or direct address to the community.
8. It’s cookies and circuses
As for the choice of fete staples, your decision should be guided by the total fair budget and ROI potential. As a general rule, raffles, Haunted Houses, bumper cars, carousels, animal farms, face painting, jumping castles, dunking machine, mechanical bull, bat-the-rat, and other amusement options are a safe fete bet because both kids and adults love them.
For bonus revenues, you can also have a white elephant stall and an auction of DIY jewellery, old toys, clothes, or even cakes. If you’re staging a raffle, start selling tickets for it as soon as possible to max out turnout; likewise, if the fair is going to feature a cake auction, be sure to rent out display fridge or freezers a few weeks before the fete, just to stay on the safe side.
9. A small price to pay
With the fete venue, promotion, and entertainment set and ready to roll, one of the final things you’ll need to do before you open to public is define the prices for each amusement item. When setting ride prices, be reasonable and bear in mind that low upfront costs seem less intimidating from a parent’s perspective.
Although you’re aiming to raise as much cash as possible, you don’t want to fleece the parents: instead, you want the families to stick around all through the day as it promises highest revenues. After all, fetes are about fun, not just money, so don’t take the fun bit out of the puzzle by overcharging it.
Organising a memorable fete is a pretty complex task that requires lots of forethought, budget planning, decision-making, and collaboration, but an average Supermum can do it with her eyes closed – and now you can pull it off too, with or without your Batmum cape.
Have you got any tips to add? Share with us in the comments.