Overcoming Planning Challenges for your Fete or Fair

Overcoming Planning Challenges for your Fete or Fair

Just as I was planning to write this post I happily came across a post by The Fundraising Whisperer page on Facebook. They talked about a wonderful bit of research that was published in May this year, called the National Fete Research Project. It surveyed 497 volunteers fete convenors throughout Australia and published its findings to better help other committees judge their fete or fair’s performance against the findings. It also has some wonderful suggestions for overcoming challenges, and areas of most profitability on average.

The part I was most happy about was that these findings were quite consistent with our experiences after 11 years of helping school committees organise their fetes. So I thought I’d share a little bit of our experience with you to help you jump through some of the hoops that are most difficult when organising a fete.

Setting a Date

Spring is always the busiest time of year for school fetes. But remember it is also the busiest time of year for end of winter sporting season events, other community events, and as you head into November, end of year events. In the last five years March is also becoming an increasingly popular time to hold a school fete or fair.

With this in mind, carefully research other events held within your local community area and make sure you don’t clash with them. Your immediate community is going to be your primary audience so don’t cut it in half through poor date choice.

Recruiting Volunteers

This seems to be increasingly challenging each year. Ironically, it seems to be more difficult for larger schools to find volunteers than small schools. Perhaps this is because it’s easier to hide in a crowd? The National Fete Research Project identified “can’t get a firm commitment until the last minute” as the biggest challenge when planning your fete. Here are a few suggestions to overcome this.

1. Make it a small commitment when looking for help within your planning committee. Don’t ask people to join the committee – ask them for help with a very specific role within it. That way they know they won’t be asked to take on a number of roles and it seems a more manageable commitment.

2. Likewise, roster smaller time slots for help on the day. Don’t expect one person to man a stall for the entire day, but instead offer a roster where people can volunteer for a hour or two shift.

3. See if you can recruit a “Dad’s Army” for Set Up and Pack Down.

4. Shower your volunteers with appreciation. Facebook post your appreciation to each group of volunteers throughout the whole year. Offer a special raffle, with a ticket entry for ever hour volunteered on the day. People who feel valued always do more.

Attracting Visitors

Your local school community is always going to be your biggest source of attendance so make sure you utilise it well.

1. Consider roadside banners and other community advertising portals.

2. Ask local entertainment and sporting groups to attend your event and offer demonstrations.

3. Approach other schools and preschools within your area. If your school has a few specific feeder preschools.

4. Use Facebook, and consider using their paid advertising to specifically target your local area. 

5. Make your event stand out in some way. Find a theme or a drawcard that is different to others in your area.


Small schools were less likely to provide a handover report to the following years committee. These reports can provide invaluable information, and save so much time in planning, so consider using them.

Make sure you have all your permits and insurances in place. Consider this being a single role within your committee if you require a lot of permits. Each event has different requirements, but make sure you have considered it if you need the following:

1. Food permit

2. Local Council permit

3. Gambling/raffle/fundraising permit

4. Road Blocking permit

Also consider the role of someone ensuring all the stallholders and outside entertainment have provided their relevant paperwork and insurances.

Also, check out our other blog post on resources for planning your event for some shortcuts on paperwork.

Planning your fete can be an amazing and rewarding experience. You have the opportunity to make a difference within your community, as well as make some wonderful friends along the way. If we can help you in any way please don’t hesitate to contact us on 1300 CAMELOT.

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