SO school is back and the dreaded P&C or P&F meetings shall soon begin again. In most cases the P&F will have their AGM this month and many parents will sheepishly attend because they feel obliged, others will run to the meetings blindfolded, naked over hot coals to regain a little bit of power they had in their lives PK (pre kids).
Last year I attended the AGM out of boredom. Maternity leave was driving me mental and quite frankly, I wanted to get out of the house. What the **** was I thinking?
I got bullied into running the school Fun Fair. Yes BULLIED! Ok, it wasn’t bullying but for the sake of drama……
They said: “You’re a leader! You will be awesome! You’re the one! We’ll help you! You won’t have to do a thing” – They clearly knew how to appeal to my mega-ego.
I said: “How hard can it be?”
Oh Lord. How hard can it be? HOW HARD CAN IT BE!?!?!?!
Well it’s as hard as you make it but if you do attend one of these meetings over the next couple of months and get ‘nominated’ running the school fete or fun fair, it’s incredibly rewarding and a great way to get to know everyone at school. Here are my tips on how to survive!
HOW TO RUN A SCHOOL FUN FAIR OR FETE
- The best piece of advice I received was from my predecessor who said “focus on fun and not the fundraising. When people are having fun, they forget about how much money they are spending” – so so true! (also see point 7)
- Whilst you’re paying it forward and logging up serious karma points, just remember it’s not about you Ms Co-Ordinator. The less you make it about yourself, the more successful it will be. It’s a high profile gig so manage it properly, politics and power plays should not play a part. A Fun Fair is about an entire school community coming together to set up a great day for the kids. It’s not your time to get on a massive power trip. As much time as you put into it, there will be 45 others lining up to tell you how generous they are – go with it and accept ALL the help you are offered.
- Set up a Facebook Page for the Fun Fair. This will be your best form of communication with parents and friends. Make sure EVERYONE likes your Fun Fair page and shares the message. Communicate daily and WHENEVER someone does something, ANYTHING for your Fun Fair, thank and congratulate them for their generosity on the Facebook page. Loads of photos too – everyone loves to see pics of working bees and preparation in the lead up to the big day, it generates unprecedented excitement. People also LOVE seeing their name up in lights and a little bit of Facebook fame goes a long way (as it should).
- Somewhere in your school community will be a graphic designer. Find them and become their best friend. You need them for logos, signage and general communication. Ask them for free design work and plug them on Facebook, anywhere you can. The more professional your Fun Fair looks, the more people it will attract. Especially if you are able to spread the word via social media as everyone loves a loves Fun Fair.
- Your sponsorship team will be the most important people helping you on the Fun Fair. They are in charge of pulling together Chocolate wheel prizes, raffle prizes and selling sponsorships. We had the best sponsorship team on the planet and it made a huge difference to the bottom line. We set up a sponsorship package and sold Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze packages – the sponsors were allowed signage at school in the lead up to the big event, stalls and signage on the day as well as other opportunities to speak to the school community.
- Suss out every family at school with a business and or/connections to big business. Start with a raffle, it’s the best way to pre-sell tickets to cover the bigger costs of running a Fun Fair. Donations are how you’re going to get maximum profit out of your Fun Fair and this is where local businesses can help. Get the Principal’s permission and give away advertising space in the newsletter in return for prizes. The more you can have donated, the better.
- Become best friends with the Fun Fair Co-Ordinator from the last few years, their knowledge is the only way you will succeed and they will save you months of research, time and money. Ply him or her with loads of alcohol and make sure you ask them which parents to stay away from (you know, the ones who are going to be more painful than helpful). Erk, did I just write that?!?!?!
- Plan for weather – Summer months? Buy more drinks and ice blocks. Spring? Stock up on Hot Chips. Have four runners at the ready to provide cold drinks to stall holders and to be able to run to shops if you run out of supplies. Make sure they have a reserved car space!
- Learn how to suck up to everyone. Big time. You will spend the entire year telling everyone how awesome they are and they will pay you back in giving beyond what you thought was possibly imaginable. People in general are incredibly kind and generous and if you simply take the time to say thank you, it’s amazing how much people will give if you make them feel special.
- Ask people for help. People always want to help but if they’re not an outrageously outgoing person they are often waiting for an invite. Invite everyone to help you at craft days, sign making days, cake making days. Include the new kindergarten parents and make them feel welcome, it can be intimidating for newbies. You are leading the way on this so lead by example.
- Bring in a portable ATM for the event. These are readily available for about $250 hire these days and can add $2k-$5k to your bottom line.
- Decide on your stalls. Best to stay clear of the ones that didn’t make money last time and always bring in something new. This year we bought in a Haunted House, a donut stall, Sideshow Alley and 10 other incredible new stalls to keep it fresh. We didn’t bring in any outside stalls which meant all money at the Fun Fair stayed on the bottom line. We hired professional stalls for consistency and had parents staff the stalls. If you don’t think you will have that many volunteers then open the Fun Fair to outside stall holders and charge them a Fete Stall rental plus $XX per stall for the day.
- Beware of carni’s (Carnival Folk). The one’s who bring in the rides. If you’re running a Primary School fair it’s always good to ask if the rides have big busted women graffiti’d all over the ride. I made the mistake of walking outside on the day of set up to see two massive bazookas staring at me. The Dad’s naturally loved it…..I was mortified. Carni’s are a special lot and you need to be very specific and have, in writing, the types of rides you are getting, the costs and most importantly, get a copy of their insurance. Recommendations are the best way to go so ask around other schools on who they would recommend.
- Remember that a Fun Fair is a big expense for the parents. Often your rides can be the most profitable item but you want to make sure you’re not fleecing the parents so much that they have no money left for food. Offer a family ticket for 3 of more tickets to keep bigger families from being scared off. Keep prices reasonable $2 per can of drink etc. People love value for money and will stay longer if they don’t think they will be bankrupt by the end of the day. Similarly be careful not to ask too much of the parents in donations beforehand. We asked for Cake Ingredient and Basket stall donations as well as a cake donation but our P&F funded the lolly stall ourselves. I heard of one school who asked parents to provide art supplies for art works then charged parents to enter the “art exhibition” and then charged parents to ‘Buy” their child’s artwork – triple hit on one event is just not acceptable.
Could keep writing for days on end about this but shall not bore you with the detail – good luck with it all and remember above all – make sure the kids have FUN!
(Do you know your P&C or P&F President this year or the Fun Fair Co-Ordinator – share this post on Facebook below and tag them – I’m in a competition with myself to see how far this post can reach – hopefully there are Fun Fair co-orindators in Ireland who will find this useful too! xxx)