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5 More Ways to Make Money at Your School Carnival – Updated For 2010 School Year
A carnival is one of the best and most fun ways to raise important funds for your school. However, the amount of work needed to turn your carnival into a money-making machine can be intense. Here are five suggestions you can use to really increase your income generating potential.
1. Use the latest technologies in your marketing campaign
A basic tenet of marketing is getting the message across to your audience the way they consume information. Since your primary market is families with young children, you can safely assume that a large percentage of these parents are active online. Therefore, you need to make sure that you use social media as your main way to spread the word.
Create a Facebook fan page for your school and fill it with quick posts such as:
· Important dates/times for the carnival
· Notifications on wristband sales
· Cool activities that you have booked, such as a bungee race or inflatable jousting
· Popular shows you have scheduled, such as local bands or the high school cheerleading squad
· Incentives like shaving the principal’s head if 80% of the school’s students buy wristbands in advance
Any specialty foods you’ll be selling at carnival, such as deep-fried Oreo cookies
Spread this information in real time and specifically ask your readers to spread the word by emailing links or suggesting their friends check out your school’s fan site.
I would also suggest recruiting a handful of students who are big texters. Ask them to start a “text tree” where they text ten of their friends and family members. Then these ten each send an SMS to ten other friends and so on, until the numbers explode. It can be a simple message like “don’t forget to buy your carnival wristbands by today”. It can be a very powerful tool for you.
Be sure to ask your school district if you can use their automated telephone alert system, if they have one. It’s the phone system calling you home to notify you of a school cancellation or something similar. Often, schools use these systems to notify parents of school plays or shows. Request permission to use the system for your school carnival announcements to parents on their cell phones or at home. It is a very effective means of communication at your disposal. If you have it, use it!
2. Be more honest in your marketing
Admit it, it’s hard to get people to spend money on charities, which schools are, in a bad economy. People are scared and want to keep their money. This is understandable. However, it is also true that schools need to fundraise for things, important things, that the budget will no longer cover. Therefore, I would suggest two very important messages to embed in your carnival marketing plan.
First, be very specific in your material. Tell the parents exactly what the money you raise will be used for. Work with the school principal and teachers to make a list of all the items that depend on fundraising. Tell parents that these items will be cut if your goals are not met. Even go so far as to create a priority list – name which item will be cut first, etc. Your message might still be ignored by some, but for others, this reality check will be a good incentive. And at least we can say that they were warned.
Second, be sure to start advertising your carnival LONG before it happens. I’m talking about six or seven months before. Then, after telling them what their money will be used for, specifically suggest families SAVE for your event. If you give them six months (24 weeks) and ask them to set aside just $3 a week, that’s $72 at the time of the event. If your school has 250 families and only half of them (125) save to spend the $72, you will get $9,000. 75% to that amount would equal over $13,000. Would it be useful for your school?
I would even go so far as to start a school-wide project where kids get coffee cans or milk jugs and decorate them as personal savings boxes for the school carnival. Even with tight budgets, many families can find ways to scrape together $3 a week. It’s only 43 cents a day! But, you are going to have to make a plan for them.
Unless families know the specific need and are given a specific plan on how to reach the goal, you won’t be able to raise the funds your school needs.
3. Pre-sale of activity bracelets
In the sections above, I mentioned presale activity and game wristbands. Basically, this is a concept where people get a discount for buying their games in advance. full access game tickets. If a person decides not to pre-purchase the wristband, they will have to pay more at the door on the day/evening of the event. Usually, a $5 rebate for pre-purchase is enough incentive.
I would suggest setting a school-wide goal for selling wristbands. This means that you or the school principal will need to do everything possible to keep track of the children’s progress. Once a day or once a week, calculations should be made and announced to the school to find out how close you are to the goal.
This can be done with a simple “lens thermometer” that you make with some thick Sharpie markers – black and red – and a sheet of large poster board. It doesn’t have to be fancy to make the point. Really excite children. Of course, that means you’ll have to offer them something pretty good in return for their effort.
Even if he’s an elder, the principal of the school having his head shaved in front of the school is a great motivator (unless the principal is already bald or is a woman who refuses to undergo the mower). But things like a meeting, a free day at school, a day off (if private) or anything else that doesn’t cost you money would also be good.
By pre-selling a large number of activity bracelets, you not only pre-load your income, but also get a good start in estimating how much food you will need. By adding the goal/reward system to the presale, you are proactively increasing your revenue.
4. Be smart about prize spend – use prize packs
It’s easy to want to splurge on the prizes you offer kids for the games they play. Some schools really get into it and set up a “prize redemption” station, where kids redeem tickets they’ve won playing games for various prizes, very similar to how arcades do. .
I would suggest staying away from this system. While the kids love it, it presents a logistical nightmare for carnival organizers. You need to understand all the mathematical calculations of how many tickets each child could possibly win in each game, for each time they play it. Next, you need to figure out how many small, medium, and large prizes you should buy based on what you think the kids would actually do. And you better not fool yourself by not having enough “big” prizes. You could have disgruntled young people on your hands…
Also, it takes a lot of time for kids to decide which prize(s) they want. Have you ever stood in line behind a seven-year-old at the Chuck E. Cheese prize counter? It takes them eons to figure out how to spend all their tickets. You’ll have a line snaking all around your school trying to handle this!
The solution, while not the most fun for kids, is to opt for pre-packaged prize packs that are all identical. You can create separate packs for boys and girls, if you wish. The good prizes are pencils, coupons for McDonald’s, small candies, a homework pass, a few small toys, a tracing tattoo, etc. In the long run, a kid won’t be disappointed with this loot bag, and you’ll have saved a lot of heartache for everyone involved.
5. Merchandise like crazy with add-ons to earn money
Ok, so you have people buying their activity bracelets and food, but how do you get them to part with some of their heard dough?
From the moment a family enters your carnival, they should be overwhelmed with opportunities to spend money. The games and activities are attractive, but you can also create a bunch of other very attractive money-making stations.
For example, you can sell “cascarones”. These are decorative eggshells hollowed out and filled with confetti. Once they’re stuffed and decorated, you glue a little lid over the hole to keep the confetti inside.
Have volunteers make them by the dozen, then sell them individually at the carnival. A person buys a cascarone, he or she sneaks up behind a friend and smashes it over their head, raining confetti on that person. It’s a good laugh for everyone. Just make sure the person buying the egg knows not to hurt their target by smashing it too hard on the head.
There are many articles online, giving instructions on how to make and decorate eggs. Do a simple Google search to find out more.
Another good idea is to set up a prison at the carnival. For a fee, like 2 tickets (about $1), you can hire one of the prison guards to “arrest” one of their friends. The “arrested” person must stay in jail until they pay 4 tickets (about $2) to get out.
The jail should be in a prominent place where everyone can see who has been arrested.
If you really want to up the embarrassment factor, blackmail the inmates for the crowd while incarcerated. Once I had to sing “Little Bunny Foo Foo” while waiting to get out of jail. It was very embarrassing, but very fun!
Another idea for making extra money at your carnival would be to have a volunteer who is on hand with a camera to take candid photos all night long of friends having fun together. With a digital camera and a portable color printer, you can print copies to sell. Price the photos to move and make sure the photographer is also a good seller to get people to buy.
These are just a few of the many strategies you can use to make more money at your next school carnival. The most important tip is to make sure you give people what they want. The more you can tempt them, the more money they will spend.
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