Read the research before planning your next school fundraiser

25 May 2018 General

In an Australian first, a nation-wide research project has captured what exactly makes school fetes successful. Including what organisers can do to plan these events for maximum profit and minimum stress, which is the aim of the game!

The National Fete Research Project has revealed that, in many schools, fetes are critical to school income and community engagement. However, more can be done to increase their success.

Conducted by QUT’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, with support from the Fundraising Directory, the study involved nearly 500 school fete conveners from schools across Australia.

The most profitable fete stall or activity was a barbeque, followed by amusement rides, with a cake stall coming in fifth.

The average fete profit for a large school (more than 700 students) was approximately $26,000 and for a small school (fewer than 300 students) it was approximately $10,000. One fete even pulled in a mammoth $93,000 in profit.

QUT Researcher Marie Balczun said the study showed that “while larger schools naturally had higher average profits, smaller schools actually did better on a per student basis, raising more than $70 per student, compared with $30 per student for larger schools.”

The report provides key tips from fete organisers, to help improve the running of a fete and boost profits. These include:

  1. Start early– a year out if possible, straight after the previous fete.
  2. Use online signup for volunteers– this will help with recruitment.
  3. Prioritise safety- have someone responsible for Occupational Health and Safety matters.
  4. Hire a portable ATM- more cash means more sales.
  5. Have a wet weather plan- especially for the rides.

QUT Associate Professor Wendy Scaife, director of The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, said there was also a key opportunity to involve more men in the running of fetes.

“Apart from security roles, females made up most of the volunteers,” Professor Scaife said.

“In fact, more than three-quarters of volunteers are female and, when it comes to the organising committee, that number jumps to almost 90%,” she said.

Research partner Mandy Weidmann from the Fundraising Directory said the research aimed to give fete organisers access to benchmarks and guidance that have not previously existed.

“For example, only 40% of state and private schools in the study received a handover report from the previous fete,” Ms Weidmann said.

“Information sharing such as this could save time, and stress, and make fetes even more profitable,” she said.

One area that remained contentious though, was the role of alcohol at school fetes.

“On average, alcohol was only available at 30 percent of fetes and attitudes remain mixed on the issue,” Professor Scaife said.

“Some schools saw it as inappropriate, with a view that fetes without alcohol have a more family friendly atmosphere. Others reported it was popular and easy to keep as a ‘kid-free’ zone,” she said.

We know that P&C members and volunteers are busy people. Busy people who often don't have time to read long reports - no matter the findings. However, this is one report all P&Cs should make the time to check out before planning the next school fundraiser.

The full report can be downloaded free at QUT ePrints.