1. Selecting a date
Don’t just set a date blindly and then rush to try and meet it. Break down tasks based on what you want to achieve, how long each activity will take to organise, who is responsible and how much it will cost. You will then be able to set milestones indicating when certain tasks need to be finished.
Now you are ready to set your date.
Check that your date doesn't clash with any other school fetes or local events. Also consider national public holidays and major events such as sports finals.
Once you've set your date, let other schools know so they won't set their dates too close to yours.
2. Selecting a venue
While the venue for a school fete is (usually) obvious – the school grounds – it is important that it has a wet-weather capability. This usually means a large indoor space such as a stadium or hall.
You will also need to check with local authorities regarding relevant regulations such as traffic management and security.
Other regulations that may apply to school fetes include health and safety, food handling, liquor licensing, insurance and more. See our fundraising legislation and regulations page for more information.
3. Selecting a committee
You are going to need a committee to oversee the planning phase in particular. While many hands make light work, the committee is responsible for coordinating and managing the overall event.
The committee may be divided into areas of responsibility such as finance, risk management, marketing, sponsorship and donations, venue and facilities, entertainment and activities, stalls, catering, and volunteers. Remember, some people are better skilled for some tasks and positions should be selected on the basis of experience and ability.
4. Managing the budget
The budget needs to be managed closely. There is nothing worse than your expenses being more than your income – you are fundraising after all.
Begin by setting a fundraising target (if you've held this event before, a good starting point is what you made last time plus 10%). Then ensure your planned expenses are well within that target. If it looks like you might get even close to the wire cancel before you start.
You will also need a process for managing money and banking on the day of your fete. Our events budget tool can assist you to start building your own budget.
5. Involving others
Consider other community groups – local sporting clubs, for example – that may want to be involved in your fete.
Other groups can help bring other people to the fete, create a specialised attraction and it can help them raise funds as well. For example, you could incorporate a goal shooting competition from a basketball or netball team, a hole-in-one competition from a golf club, or a handball target competition from a football club (with a 50-50 split on profits).
Local dance studios or community bands may also provide performances and displays.
6. Promoting your fete
You should take the opportunity to promote your fete whenever and wherever you can. The school newsletter is the obvious place to start, however other opportunities include emails to the school database and notices on the school website and social media.
Many local newspapers and radio stations – particularly in regional areas and community radio stations – provide free community service announcements for not-for-profit events. Call up and ask if and how you can provide a listing.
Also don’t discount more traditional advertising methods such as flyers and posters at local shops, libraries, community centres and schools and billboards at the front of your school.
Finally, check these links for some tips about how to promote your event on the internet:
7. Sponsorship and donations
Local businesses can also be approached for potential sponsorship. This is not just limited to donating money or prizes – businesses may also be a source of equipment or expertise. In return, you can offer them publicity on promotional material or even stands at the fete from which they can promote their business to the community.
Try to come up with a proposal that suits both parties before approaching the business – and be prepared to follow through on your promises.
You also need to thank sponsors and donors proactively and personally. One school took a unique approach to this by preparing small cards which they handed to fete attendees with a request to leave them at local businesses that had supported the fete. It had an amazing impact by showing businesses which customers were there simply because of their sponsorship or donation and demonstrated the benefit of supporting the event again in the future.
In addition, you may ask students to write thank you letters.
Our sample sponsorship letter may help you to get started.
8. Standing out from the crowd
It's worth considering whether you can create a unique selling point for your fete. This could include a celebrity appearance, Guinness World Record attempt or a staff and student fashion show.
Such events will help set you apart from other school fetes and help attract more attendees and possibly increased media coverage.
9. Old favourites
You should always include favourite fete staples such as animal farms, face painting, jumping castles, dunking machine and other rides. They are at every fete for a simple reason – they work.
You could also include an auction of donated goods or cakes – perhaps approach a local real estate agent to act as the auctioneer – or feature a performance by the school band, which will encourage a good turnout of family and friends.
If you are holding a raffle, the key to success is to start selling tickets as early as possible – send them home with students before the fete and sell them on the gate when people walk in.
10. Planning for next year
As the day progresses, keep notes of any problems or issues, ideas for next year and comments from stall holders or visitors. These will be useful in helping you make improvements for next year’s fete.
You should also hold a post-event gathering for volunteers, not only to thank them for their time but also to debrief on what worked well and what didn’t. Thanking your volunteers is so important you should put one person in charge of this task to ensure it's done properly.