There's a variety of fundraising events available for schools to choose from including Fetes, Fairs, Festivals, Fiestas, Carnivals and Fun Days. All vary in terms of the effort required to organise, and the final results achieved on the day.
Fetes and Fairs
The school playground has become the urban battleground where parents try to out do each other with school fetes bigger than Ben-Hur. Fetes now offer multi-cultural Food Courts, bands & musicians, Sky Divers, performers, fireworks, stalls galore, and spectacular carnival rides. While many of the traditional fair favourites remain, such as face painting, fairy floss, craft and cake stalls - the modern school fete has grown into a mini-festival that takes a good part of the year to organize. Highly profitable too! The biggest and the best school fetes and fairs can earn well over $100,000.00.
As Fetes have grown in size over the years, so has the demand on resources. The workload is huge, with a team of dedicated volunteers required to organise the wide variety of Stalls, Entertainment, Food and logictics. Unfortunately, many P&C/P&F committees cannot find sufficient support within the school to hold a Fete or Fair. There are alternate fundraising formats available, which we will now take a look at.
One option to the traditional school fete, is the scaled-down weekend Family Fun Day. No rows of stalls or on-stage performances - just a few of the simple basics, such as food, drinks, games & rides. Sounds too easy? It is!
Entertainment, performances and stalls may require the most effort to organise, though these are your main draw cards. Without them, the organiser is facing lower attendance, particularly from the general public outside of the school who have become somewhat spoilt with the extravagance of Fetes. Facing lower potential sales, the Ride Operator will cut back on the number of attractions offered, while outside vendors & stall holders may not see the event worth their while. With reduced profits, Fun Days have become more of an enjoyable day out for the school community, than an actual fundraiser.
Mini Fair & Car Boot Sale
Beware the Mini Fair or Car Boot Sale....you inevitably end up with a "mini crowd"!! As far as Fairground Operators are concerned; there's as much profit in providing amusement rides for a Car Boot Sale, as there would be in sending swimsuits to Alaska!
Most suppliers & external stall holders are aware of this, and stay clear of such events. Some may initially agree to participate, though quickly drop out when a better offer comes along, which can be frustrating and embarrassing for the organisers, especially if outside operators withdraw at the last minute (as they often do).
Mini Fetes & Car Boot Sales serve a purpose, and can generate useful funds, though they should not be seen as a replacement for the fete.
Friday Night Carnival
There is an answer for committees who wish to hold a Fete or Fair without the ensuing workload. Firstly, consider a Friday "Carnival Night" - yes, run a Family Fun Night or Big Night Out on a Friday from say 3.00pm to 7.00pm or 3.30pm to 7.30pm or 4.00pm to 8.00pm. Night time events have the best atmosphere and everyone loves the music, flashing lights and party-like excitement.
Being a Friday night, the event is not intruding on parent's weekends or the children's sporting activities, plus Mum & Dad have the night off in the Kitchen. Most importantly, the public's expectation of entertainment & stalls are nowhere near as great, as that of a weekend fete. No need for a stage, sound system, organising performances, flyers, programs, Stalls, Trash & Treasure etc. Best of all, you can out-source just about everything. Parents are happy to drop in for a meal, a few drinks and some light entertainment - so all that's needed is a few of the basics such as:
- Hot Food - BBQ Hamburgers, Sausages, Steakburgers, Pizza, Chips
- Sweets - Cakes, Fairy Floss, Snow Cones
- Rides - Plenty of flashing lights and popular music.
- Games/Activities - A few assorted in-house Games or external displays/activities.
The more the merrier, so these events are usually open to external stall/activity operators.
As with most things in life - "You only get out, what you put in", so don't expect to make a fortune from this type of event. However, Carnival Nights are a great opportunity to earn some extra funds, while providing an enjoyable social occasion for parents and their children.
"School Hour" Week Day Fetes
The second alternative is the "School Hour Fete". Fetes running from say 10.30am to 2.30pm during weekdays are becoming ever so popular. This is due to the fact that children must attend school, so their presence is guaranteed - you have a captured audience!
Each activity is given to class to supervise - you don't have to find volunteers. Teachers can assist with the overall organisation. Like the Friday Night Fete, there's no great requirement for entertainment, though student performances always add to the atmosphere and are not that hard to organise.
There's potential for plenty of stalls and activities, as classes provide the helpers. Many parents can leave work early on a Friday, and will drop in after lunch for an hour or two.
Being held during a week day, "School Hour" Fetes tend not to draw the same size crowds as Friday night or weekend events. However, these events are a viable alternative, especially when the support is not available for the more traditional Saturday or Sunday Fete.