Whether you call it the summer fayre, summer fair, summer fête, summer extravaganza, summer festival or summer fun day, this event is likely to be one of the most important fundraisers in your school calendar.
However, to make it really successful and have a really big and lasting impact on your school community, you’ll need lots of PTA summer fayre volunteers - even more than you thought you did. We’ll explain why...
It’s a popular event
Your summer fayre is a popular event that families look forward to. There are dozens of stalls to source stock for, set up and manage on the day, food to organise and serve, entertainment to arrange, sponsorships to secure, and so on.
So basically there is a ton to do, and to be really successful it requires a lot of help from parent volunteers. Typically, PTAs we speak to say they usually only have 5-10 volunteers for the majority of the school year.
However, they do try to get more people involved on big events days like the PTA summer fayre, because there is a huge opportunity to raise some serious funds, but also - importantly - to have LOTS OF FUN with loads of amusing activities and yum food and drink, laid on with a little help from a lot of people.
First get your core team together to lay down the ground work
These grafters will be the people who get things set up for success and plan well ahead. They’ll be willing to do the strategic thinking and come up with original ideas, then plan what needs doing and rally the troops.
Your first meeting should be a brainstorming sesh... no idea is a bad idea etc.
But then yeah, you may need to whittle it down to the better ones quickly before you push forward!
Pull together any information from previous years’ events - useful facts and figures like how many people attended, how many hot dogs were bought and sold, and for how much. That sort of thing.
What were the most popular stalls last year? Which were the most profitable? If you don’t have this information to hand, make sure you take notes this year instead.
Being strategic about it can make a big difference to your bottom line, and therefore have a huge impact on the amount of funds you raise going forward.
Add some new summer fayre stall ideas to the mix
You may want to freshen things up this year by introducing some new stalls, so take a look at this huge list of hundreds of great stall ideas for your summer fayre here.
Somebody will need to liaise with the school office to work out a suitable date, as it’s usually held on the school grounds. You also need to come up with a rainy weather backup plan for your summer fayre.
Put out feelers in the business community
The great networkers amongst you will put on your power outfits and make a beeline for the local business forums. That’s a great way to secure some sponsorship and raffle prize donations well ahead of time.
(Check out some great tips on how to attract PTA event sponsors here.)
Set up your online sales machine
You’ll also want to think about what you can sell in advance, e.g. entry tickets, raffle tickets, picnic hampers, etc. This is a neat way to get paid up front, and then scan and redeem pre-paid vouchers on the day. Gotta love some positive cash flow!
Keep track of volunteer offers
But how can you manage all of the extra volunteers needed for the PTA summer fayre, and keep track of who’s doing what?
Many PTAs just ask people to email them or respond via social media, and then use a spreadsheet to manage the stalls and tasks, followed up with paper and email appeals for help. It’s a bit of a pain to pull it all together, but just about doable if that’s how you’d like to spend your time. (More on this soon..!)
Using Class Reps
Hold several PTA meetings to organise the plan-ahead tasks, and use those vital Class Reps to reach out to the parent community. They need to use all the charm and persuasion they can manage to drum up some support.
It’s great if the PTA class reps can take the lead, but a bit of a big ask for them to run the whole stall themselves. Some good ol’ sorts won’t mind, but frankly most people could really do with a bit of time to relax with the fam.
It’s advisable instead to frame the Class Rep’s role as a facilitator and delegator, and make sure this is clear to ALL parents in your PTA newsletters and social media messages. I.e. Class Reps are there to liaise between the PTA and parents - not be a dogsbody and get lumbered with everything!
Maintain an overview
Keeping track of all the responses across all classes can end up being a bit fraught and chaotic, and it’s especially hard to keep it all in synch when you are fielding replies from multiple channels like social media and email.
Not to mention, as the PTA Chair or event manager, it’s really hard to get general oversight if you don’t have instant updates from all your reps to gauge how the rotas are looking. The time slots can get out of synch pretty quickly.
In the end, it might seem like more trouble than it is worth to involve more than say 20-30 people, so you can keep tabs on what’s happening. Which is why a lot of PTAs end up panicking about getting enough volunteers, and instead have the same handful of (slightly/very stressed) people setting up, running the stalls all day and then tidying away.
But wait - don’t give up on getting more help!
Before you give up on rallying all the troops, remember that there are multiple benefits to NOT limiting your group of volunteers to a small tight group, and instead persevering with your volunteer recruitment drive.
Top reasons to radically increase the number of volunteers at your summer fayre:
- Listing all the volunteer tasks in full promotes the good work that the regular helpers do — hardly anyone really appreciates the extent of the preparation involved.
- Many Hands Make Light Work. Self-explanatory.
- The better the experience each volunteer has this time, the more likely they are to volunteer again next time.
- If you and your little team do *everything* yourself this one time, guess what? You’ll be expected to do it again next time!
- When you get lots of people involved, you’re likely to have a bigger, better event that makes more money.
- As more people start helping, it becomes more appealing to even more people. It feels like it’s the norm to muck in a little.
- The more diverse the group of people volunteering, the more representative it is of your school community, and the more likely it is that the activities will appeal to a broader group of people.
- When a large part of your school community has joint responsibility for the success of the event, they also share in the glory when everything goes well. And that’s a great feeling!
Hopefully you’ll agree that there are distinct advantages to radically increasing the number of volunteers at your summer fayre event.
Apart from running a bigger, better event with a ton of fun activities, you’ll make more money and - most importantly - build a stronger and more inclusive school community.
Next you’ll be thinking... ok so yeah - we want a lot more volunteers. But how do we get more parents to actually help out? If we struggle to get 20-30 people, how on earth will we get 100 or 150 or even 200???!
All is revealed in our next blog: How to Get (a LOT) More PTA Summer Fair Volunteers (coming very very soon - sign up here to be notified!)
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