10 Do’s and Don’ts for School Carnivals
DO recruit local businesses to sponsor your event. This is a great way to raise funds and promote community involvement! Businesses that provide services to children, such as after-school classes and sports leagues are great choices.
DO consider your school demographic when pricing tickets. Make sure your event is affordable for everyone. Consider working with school counselors and administrators to make free tickets available to needy families. This will not affect your bottom line, since most of those families would not attend the event without assistance. Plus, you’ll know you are truly being inclusive and giving back to your school community!
DO put fundraising second and fun first. Let’s face it - a big school event is a lot of work, and there are way easier ways to raise money. A carnival in a school of 500-1000 students typically raises less than $5,000 after expenses. An a-thon or catalog sale can raise twice that with a small fraction of the effort. So relax and put the fun back in fun fair!
DO invest money in quality rentals if you can afford it. Most parents consider value for the money over total money spent, so if they pay $20 for tickets and feel like they didn’t get much in return, they’ll consider skipping the event next year. On the other hand, if they see a well-organized event with eye-catching activities that have kids ooh-ing and aah-ing, they’ll appreciate the value they got for their money.
DO offer pre-sale tickets. Pre-sale tickets, even at a steep discount, add to your total ticket sales. Contrary to intuition, they don't affect the bottom line at the door. This may be because people buy more tickets at the pre-sale than they do at the door, or it may be because 30-40% of pre-sale tickets are not used. Either way, it's a great way to offer discounts to early birds and can increase ticket sales by up to 25%. Just make sure your pre-sale campaign lasts at least several weeks and includes plenty of reminders for parents.
DON’T ignore fire safety. Situate vendors, food trucks, and games well away from fire lanes (your fire department can provide you with specific clearance distances) and know the maximum capacities of indoor spaces. Leave exits clear of games and tables.
DON’T rent equipment without checking your insurance policy first. Many insurance companies will provide a specific list of event items that they won’t cover - watch out for common exclusions, such as a dunk tanks, go-carts, and rock-climbing walls. You may even need to purchase special event insurance.
DON’T surprise the principal. Whether you’re planning to throw a pie in her face or park a 50-foot game truck in the parking lot, make sure you include the principal in all of your plans right from the beginning. Being respectful of the principal’s authority and accountability will go a long way towards keeping your working relationship pleasant and productive.
DON’T burden teachers with your event. Teachers today are already over-burdened, so make sure that your event isn’t taxing them more. Don’t rely on teacher volunteers, or ask them to use instructional time for event-related activities. Instead, include teachers by making sure they know what’s going on, copying them on emails and information that affects them directly, offering them free tickets for their family members, or inviting them to join in a fun way. But if they’d rather have their Saturday off, remember that teachers deserve a life too!
DON’T try to do it all yourself. An event this large is a huge undertaking! Aside from stress and burnout, if you’re the only person who has been involved in the planning, you’ll be running around like the proverbial headless chicken on event day because no one will know what to do without you there to tell them. And you can’t be everywhere at once to make sure things are running smoothly. Delegate big portions of the event to others and empower people to make decisions.