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PTA Fundraising: Fall Festivals 101

Fall 8 min read
PTA Fundraising

Planning a fall festival as a PTA fundraising event this year? Here's what you need to know.

Fall festivals are a PTA fundraising staple and we've compiled tips, ideas, and techniques to help make your event a huge success. Not only will we go over fall festival games, activities, food options, marketing, and logistics, but we've created a helpful checklist you can use to help you organize your efforts.

1. Logistics

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Before diving into the event details, make sure you check your local calendar to make sure there will be no major conflicts between your festival and other things your audience is likely to attend.

Think about the weather when deciding on festival hours. If you don't have a lot of shade, you may want to consider holding your festival during morning or evening hours. Your audience will want food no matter when your festival is but if your festival is during mealtimes, you need to plan accordingly.

Since festivals are huge PTA fundraising events to organize, make sure you have a good rain plan in place so that all the resources - money, food, manpower, etc. - doesn't go to waste if the weather decides not to cooperate.

2. Volunteers

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You can probably make a good prediction about how active your volunteer base will be. Consider this when making decisions about the number of booths, activities, and big events to host.

Since this particular PTA fundraising event requires a lot of help, think about ways you can generate interest and the desire the help. To broaden your volunteer base, we suggest choosing an effective way to communicate with parents from the start, ensuring the door is wide open for new people to get involved in planning the event, and not just the 'regulars' you may have on your personal contacts list:

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Once your planning committee is all set, you need more help to run the booths. It's time to open things up for everyone to pitch in and make it a true joint effort. Remember, people are more likely to volunteer if you break down your volunteer needs into small tasks so that even busy parents feel able to commit. After all, it's easier to volunteer to run a booth for 30 minutes than to organize a silent auction.

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The other thing to think about is how you will effectively communicate with your volunteers once they are signed up to help. You want to be able to pass on new information or updates as quickly and easily as possible.

PTAsocial's message boards allow you to send messages to everyone, or contact just the people volunteering for a particular activity. This cuts down on unwanted and unnecessary emails, saving everyone time and hassle. No need to find all the right names and email addresses and type them all in... just post it on the wall and the right people automatically get notified!

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3. Business partnerships

Advertising at a school festival is usually a good gig for local businesses. They get their name in front of a large group of potential customers while helping out a worthy cause.

Source: Giphy.com

Make your case as compelling as possible by telling them what the festival earnings are earmarked for so businesses can clearly visualize how they are helping out the school. After all, there are many PTA fundraising campaigns; make yours stand out by connecting it to the desired outcome:

"The money raised goes towards a number of activities and supplies but a bulk of the money raised from this event will go towards building a track for our playground area. We want to help the students build healthy habits by walking or running twice a week and this track will allow us to do that. Your donation towards our festival will help make this a reality."

Present businesses with a menu displaying ways they can support the school for your PTA fundraising event. Include a variety of different price points so that all businesses can help out, even if it's just a little.

4. Food, food, and more food

Source: Giphy.com

What is a good festival without food? Since this is such an important aspect of the festival, spend time thinking this through. You have to provide enough food options so that the lines are manageable as well as organize the layout of the booths so that workers have access to power, fridges, etc.

One way to make this easier is to plan a few food booths that don't require much equipment. For instance, one booth can sell a variety of candy bought from a bulk warehouse store. Or you can sell cookies that are brought in by parents.

Keep in mind that you want to keep as much profit as possible while balancing out the workload of your volunteers. You may have to allow outside food vendors to provide food for this particular PTA fundraising event, but make sure you charge a fee that benefits the school as well.

5. Game booths and activities

Source: Giphy.com

Along with food, game booths and activities are a must at festivals! There are a number of ways to plan these booths so that parents and staff get excited and more involved.

  • Assign each class a booth or let them pick their own. The booths can have teacher names associated with them which will draw in kids wanting to visit the booths of teachers they know. Ask for parent volunteers from that class to decorate and run the booth.
  • Have a number of fun booths planned out so that volunteers only have to set-up and run the booth. Have directions, supplies, and booth decorations ready to go for them.
  • Allow students to vote for one or two surprise booths. They vote at school from a few booth choices and have to come to the festival on the day of to find out which booths were chosen.

6. Add-on events

Other big events that are sometimes held at festivals - silent auctions, ticket auctions, bingo, talent shows, karaoke, dancing, etc. - can increase your earnings drastically. Try to secure as many donations as you can for any items that you will be raffling off or that will be part of a silent auction.

These events often bring in crowds so you need to plan accordingly. For instance, think through the walking paths people will most likely take. Will there be enough room for people to get through the door or do you need to make adjustments so there aren't throngs of people waiting to get in the doors.

Will people eat in this area? If so, make sure there are plenty of trash cans and volunteers to periodically check wipe down tables.

Will this area be loud? If so, you may want to put other events further from this one so that there won't be any problem hearing people or holding conversations.

7. Effective marketing

Source: Giphy.com

Your marketing doesn't need to be as ambitious as this guy's...but you do need to get the word out to as many people as possible. Consider the following ideas:

  • Post festival information on your website and social media sites
  • Post flyers in the windows of local businesses
  • Put information in the local paper and supplemental publications
  • Advertise at Mom groups and churches
  • Display a road banner with information about your event
  • Put up large signs in front of your school to grab everyone's attention

Make sure that you publicize the event at your school so that you get a big turnout from the most invested people - your school community. Talk up the event on the announcements, put up posters and flyers at your school, and send home frequent communication to your parents, especially the week of the event.

8. After the event

After your event is over, take some time to reflect on what worked for you and what didn't. This will save you time on your 2019 planning and will guide your decisions. Questions to answer include:

  1. Where did most of our profits come from?
  2. Where did we lose money or make very little?
  3. What events were most enjoyable?
  4. What events were easiest/hardest to run?
  5. What just didn't work this year?
  6. What was an outstanding success?

Make sure you also follow up with businesses that donated or helped out in anyway. Consider sending them a thank-you card and/or letter of appreciation. Not only is this just a good practice to get into but there is a better chance that they will be willing to work with you next year when you request donations.

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There are many moving parts to planning a fall festival! To help you stay organized and keep your sanity, we've created The Ultimate Fall Festival Checklist. We'll email it to you when you sign up for our blog here.

Already a PTAsocial customer?

Then make sure you head over to our members-only area for our 2018 Fall Festival Event Guide!

PTAsocial Fall Festival Event Guide
(Premium Members-only Content)

In it we cover everything you need to know to plan your festival - over 45 pages filled with dozens of specific booth, food, and game ideas plus unique ways to get the word out to increase your turn-out.

There are also tips on how to creatively get students and staff involved along with ready-to-go templates and freebies so you can start getting donations right away!

If you aren't a member and are interested in this guide or learning more about our free trial for parent school groups that want a seamless and easy way to increase volunteers, check us out!

About PTAsocial

PTAsocial’s easy-to-use digital tools empower PTAs and PTOs to efficiently plan school community events, and radically increase volunteers and funds raised. Find out more here.

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