Six Steps to Successful Fundraising With Craft Shows by Karen S Musselman

Although it requires a little more time and organization than a basic raffle or car wash, fundraising with craft shows is an excellent way to raise funds and raise awareness for your organization. Craft shows are also a great way for community organizations, schools and churches to reach out to their communities while raising funds.

In today's economy with companies shutting down and unemployment on the rise, a lot of people today in all age ranges are getting into making and selling their crafts as a way to make money due to job loss supplement their unemployment or to supplement disability and retirement income. Many crafters are actually trying to build a business by showing at craft fairs too.

Fundraising with craft shows take a little bit more effort, time and organization to set up but if you have a large enough organization to delegate out the different responsibilities, the end result is a lot of fun, meeting new people and raising funds and awareness.

How do you get started? Follow these steps to a successful craft fair fundraiser:

1. Find the location

First, you need a place for people to set up. Craft fairs can be set up virtually anywhere that has level ground and is easy for visitors to move around in and for vendors to get set up in. Unlike flea markets, craft vendors often have items that may not fair well in inclement weather and their displays are a lot more organized and professional than you'd see at a typical yard sale or flea market.

If you're planning an indoor⁄outdoor event, a paved lot is ideal so vendors can set up outdoor canopies with sides to protect their craft items. But it's also a great idea to offer some indoor or covered spaces as well, especially if some of your vendors require electricity for their displays.

High schools often make use of as much space as possible; gymnasiums, auditoriums and even hallways if they're wide enough. Churches may have large social rooms and outdoor parking lots and local communities may use areas of parks or community halls.

If you're a new organization without your own space, call around to different places that have large rooms and see what they charge to rent space. Depending on the place and your organization, you may be able to negotiate a discount.

2. Set Your Table / Space Rates

If you have a lot of 8-10 foot spaces available, fill them all up by charging less. If you charge too much, you may not get all your spaces filled up. If this is your first event, you might want to make this first year a special and either offer free space or a token $5.00 per space to get the most vendors.

Other options would be offering a free space if the vendor brings his⁄her own table and $5.00 if you provide the table for them. You could also charge $5.00 if the vendor requests electricity. Don't get greedy by trying to make money off the tables! Your organization will have other opportunities to raise funds at the event without gouging vendors for money to set up.

Visitors want to see a lot of vendors when they come to your event. The more crafters, the more traffic, which equals more money raised.

3. Advertising to get Crafters

Advertising for vendors should be started as soon as you know where you're having the event and how many spaces are available. The earlier you get those ads out, the faster you'll fill up the spaces.

Advertise heavily so you 1. get enough vendors; 2. get enough visitors! Event Lister is one of the most popular online services where vendors go to find places to set up.

Locally, be sure to advertise to the local community with email, newsletters, flyers, and local newspaper ads. If your organization has a Facebook page and Twitter, use it a lot. Besides the main Facebook page, have your members post about the event on their individual Facebook pages too.

All of your advertising should include a Crafters Needed statement and contact information.

4. Keeping Track of the Vendors and Their Assigned Spaces

As soon as the advertising is out there, you want to be ready for the crafters to sign up. You should have your tables designated by number or letter or even section if it's a large area.

Once the vendors send in the application, you assign them a space and write their name in that space. You can then call or email them back with their table assignment or you can appoint someone for the vendors to contact the day of the event about where they're to set up.

As a vendor, I'd prefer knowing all of that ahead of time so I can go directly to my spot and start setting up without disturbing the event organizers.

5. Contracting the Vendors

You want to have packets made up ahead of time for your vendors outlining certain conditions for the event; i.e., rain or shine, nonrefundable deposits if they don't show up, any liability claims or statements that are important, parking accommodations, setup dates and times and most importantly, directions to the craft show location.

You want to make your event as organized as possible for the vendors. They're the ones who are going to make you money because once they've committed to being at the show, they're going to tell their friends and family and their clients. Word of mouth will always be a wonderful advertising resource.

When a vendor contacts you about setting up, simply get their email or mailing address and send out an application with where to send the deposit - if you're charging for tables and space.

The information you need on the application is:

Their name
Website (if any)
What type of craft item they're selling
How much space they need
Are they bringing their own tables or will they need them provided
Do they need electricity
When you receive a vendor application

Once you receive this information or you get this information over the phone, you can assign them their space.

6. Ways to Raise Funds at the Event

Of course, if you're charging for the tables and spaces, that's your first way of fundraising with craft shows. But it doesn't stop there. Here are some ideas for raising the most funds with your event.

Sell Baked Goods and Other Food. Many organizations set up tables filled with home-made baked goods and candies. If your location has a kitchen or food stand, sell sandwiches & drinks. You can give your vendors a special ticket for free coffee or drinks or even offer the vendors a free or discounted lunch.

Have a Raffle. A great way for vendors to really showcase their crafts is to have a raffle. This can be optional or it can also be used as an incentive to set up. For instance, the fee for a table or space can simply be a donation of an item to be raffled off. Or you can advertise that it's an option for the vendor to donate one of their items.

As you're setting up the tables or marking the spaces for the show, set aside an area specifically to set up the raffle items. Set a bag or container next to each item and sell raffle tickets to visitors as they enter. Vendors are also encouraged to participate in the raffle by buying tickets to try and win other vendors' items. Raffles are great fundraisers, especially when you have a wide variety of items on display.

7. Raising Awareness as Well as Funds

Fundraising with craft shows is also a fun and creative community outreach event for various organizations and churches to raise awareness and reach out to the community. You can have special brochures or pamphlets made up to hand vendors as they come in. Or better yet, once the show kicks off, you can have someone from the organization visit each vendor personally. Have them pick up a business card at each table to add them to a special mailing list or follow up with a thank you letter for participating in the event.

If you get enough crafters to set up and they all have a great day because lots and lots of people showed up, the vendors would be more than happy to participate in another event and it could even become an annual fundraising event!

About the Author

About the Author: Karen Musselman and her husband set up at a several craft fairs during the year displaying their lighted wine bottles and lighted mason jars. Karen is also the author of [the website cannot be found].

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