Are you a new PTA volunteer and have suddenly found yourself on the Summer Fair Committee or are your PTA trying to work out how to raise more funds?
Here are my TOP TEN TIPS for maximising profit! I have gone into lots more detail in the YouTube Video below. The broadcast was recorded live in our Stamptastic Private PTA & Schools Facebook Group. The group is really welcoming with lots of great tips and advice 🙂 Do come over and join us, we would love to have you 💙
Please note, these are tips that worked at our PTA Summer Fair. Just because they worked for us might not mean they work for you! All PTAs are different and operate differently so pick and choose any of the below and let us know how you get on!
1) Going straight in with a controversial one......No external stalls, unless you are getting a decent amount of money in from them. People tend to visit a Summer Fair with a fixed amount of money to spend and if they buy from an external stall then that's less money for the PTA coffers! Plus external stalls can be a headache, you need to have copies of their insurance and have to include them in your risk assessment. Why let an Ice Cream Van pay you £50 when you could have your own Ice Cream Stall 🍦 and make the profit? I know a lot depends on if you have the volunteers but if you do have the volunteers then consider dropping those external stalls.
2) Try and hold the Summer Fair over a mealtime. Eg 11.30am to 2pm or if you are having a Festival type fair then 4pm to 8pm. Our food stalls were always one of the top earning stalls at our Summer Fairs, so try and maximise that by running your fair over lunchtime 🍔 Also, if your fair is at 1pm to 3pm for example, many people might come up the to fair after they have had lunch so take that opportunity away from them and get them to come up to the School before lunch so they are hungry 😋
3) Have demonstrations throughout the day to keep people entertained and to ensure that visitors stay as long as possible and are therefore spending more cash 🤑 We had our school choir perform at the beginning of the fair at 11.30am so all those parents came up to the fair to watch their children (and so were there for lunchtime, see above!). What clubs do you have at your school? Karate, Dance, Maypole, Gymnastics, Choir, French or what about a teachers versus kids netball match? Invite all the clubs to have a slot at your fair and make sure you let the school community know before the big day what time all the clubs will be performing. This increases excitement levels, parents will normally stay to watch their kids ☺️ and highlights what's on offer at your school.
4) Seems an obvious one but KEEP COSTS DOWN! Give your PTA Committe a budget for every stall and make it very clear that the budget needs to be stuck to. A trip to Costco can be very helpful but we all know what happens when you go to a wholesaler...you go crazy and add unneccessary items to your basket....(I'm sure that can't be just me 😝). I did an excel spreadsheet and itemised every item we needed and totalled how much should be spent so that it was very difficult to go over budget. This takes time but is worth it as you don't want to be celebrating the success of your fair only to start getting in all those unexpected invoices!
5) Allocate a stall to each class. This is a tricky one because some schools are teeny weeny who might struggle getting more than a few stalls or you might be at a school where some classes won't participate at all. I think we can safely say that one thing we all have in common is that we ALL struggle to get volunteers, regardless of the size or demographic of the school 😏 We were able to implement one stall per class because we already had a Class Representative System in place, where Class Reps met with the Headteacher once a half term. It's the Class Reps duty to get the time slots on the stalls filled. We gave the "harder" stalls to the more enthusiastic year groups (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) and the "easier" stalls such as the tombola to classes who were less likely to find volunteers (Year 6!)
6) What stalls can you have that require very little financial outlay? These are the ones that are in essence pure profit! I was a little dubious about having a Second Hand Stall as in the past it was a headache to sort and clean the toys (some of them needed anti bac 😷) and then deal with all the leftover crap HOWEVER I was amazed how well it worked and we took well over £1,000 pure profit on this stall. It helps if the stall is well laid out with some tables being 50p tables and other £1 etc. We even had about 5 bikes donated which was fab 🚲. This is a good stall to give to Reception Class because it's quite a lot of effort but also makes sense because they often have the most toys to donate! Other similar stalls that work well are Cake Stalls, Salad Bars, Tombola and Pick a Bag.
7) SPONSORSHIP! Not everyone has the time or energy to try and find sponsorship and a lot of people feel awkward about doing it but if you know someone who is up for the challenge then go for it! Sponsor your raffle, stalls, programme, silent auction, anything!! Just be bold and don't undersell yourself or your school! A lot of local businesses would love to gain access to your school community so offer it to them for the right price!! This became a bit of a full time job for myself and a friend but approximately half the profit at our fair was raised through sponsorship and was banked before the main event 💰👍🏻
8) The Raffle! In my humble opinion you don't need 20 prizes for the raffle. It's hard getting prizes and vouchers donated and also no one wants to wait around for an hour whilst the raffle is being announced 😂 (By the way, announce the raffle at the end of the fair so people stay to the end!). So I would aim for 8 prizes and have 3 good prizes listed on the tickets. If you can get a cool prize donated by a local business or generous parent that's great but it might be easier to offer a cash prize. It's less hassle and we found that we sold the same amount of raffle tickets if not more when the top prize was cash. I mean who doesn't want to win cash?? Also, if you can sell tickets before the big day that's fab but please note if you do this you must register with your Local Authority as a Small Society Lottery and make sure you allow plenty of time to get your application in and approved.
9) If you manage to collect a lot of prizes 🎁 and vouchers and don't use them all in the raffle (see No. 8 above) then consider holding a Silent Auction. There is software available that can help you easily run a Silent Auction and it is a GREAT way to raise money. If you are lucky you will get some parents bidding the actual value of the prize rather than nominal amounts and it's brilliant when parents get into a bidding war 😭 You could even get you silent aution sponsored (see No. 7 above).
10) Finishing on another controversial one! Charge entry on the gate. Obviously this completely depends on your catchment area and you want to make sure your fair is inclusive as possible so if charging is going to prevent people coming then don't do it. If you can charge, then consider how much. We charged £1 per adult when I was Chairperson and I know that my old school now charges £2. Have someone "tough" on the gate who isn't going to let people in for free! Also, be careful of *coughs* "volunteers" sneaking up ten minutes before the fair starts to avoid paying entry. We closed the school gates one hour before so this didn't happen 🙏🏻
So there you go! Those are my Top Ten Tips! Like I mentioned above, they won't work for everyone but they worked for us. Some of them won't make you popular 😳 but it's how we raised over £16,000 profit at our Summer Fair. Oh yeah, and a lot of blood, sweat and (mostly my) tears!
Wishing you all the best of luck with your fundraising!
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