Okay, now you know what a Festival of Trees fundraiser is from part one of this series, you know who to get donations from, what they should donate, and suggestions for their donations. After you round up a committee of volunteers to help: What’s next for your plan of action?
You need to secure a place to hold your Festival of Trees. Suggestions:
- Church Social Hall
- Fraternal Organization Hall
- Town or Community Room
- Country Club
- Hotel Banquet Room
Try to get a discount on your room rental with a venue. If it is at a fraternal hall, church hall or town/community room, see if someone on your committee is a member and if you can use their discount.
- Churches usually have discounts or free use for church members
- Fraternal organizations like Knights of Columbus, American Legion, VFW posts have a member rate for rentals too. Usually pretty inexpensive.
- If you have a town/community center room, talk with officials to see if they will co-sponsor the event along with your non-profit organization. A Festival of Trees is likely to attract much of the population and your city will look good if they cooperate.
One big room works well for this event, though any facility you can secure can be made to work. We will assume it is one big room. Now, what is needed to make a set-up plan?
- If you haven’t already, make a detailed floor plan. Estimate the number of tables you will need for donations and estimate floor space needed for easels or larger donations. Create a pathway — pattern — for the flow of traffic while drawing your floor plan. In addition to these, you will need…
- Décor - you will need some festive décor to make the atmosphere holiday-ish and in keeping with the theme.
- Ask someone to play Santa. He could give away inexpensive candy canes to the children after listening to their holiday wishes. Let parents take pictures for free.(This is a big draw around the holidays. Letting parents take their own pictures instead of charging and you having to do it, will send goodwill and get you lots of attendees.)
- Ask your committee members/friends/relatives/neighbors if they have any large holiday décor you can borrow.
- Sleigh, faux fireplace, large chair (for Santa), North Pole free standing signs (or ones you can place in a planter), blow up yard décor (not too large), etc…
- Make inexpensive décor
- Get boxes from small to large, wrap them in festive holiday paper, and add ribbons. Stack them large at the bottom to small at the top. These can be used as an entrance and/or for columns on either side to designate Santa area.
- Get boxes to make a faux fireplace. Wrap them in red paper(or corrugated brick pattern paper), add a fireside chair, borrow a rug, place a Christmas tree and you have created a vignette in a dead area.
- Make cardboard or foam board standees of stockings, snowmen, candy, gingerbread house, etc… Simply cut the design out of the cardboard or foam board, have someone talented paint it and then attach wood to the bottom to make a base so that it can be freestanding. (If it is top heavy, tape a dowel rod or 1” x 2” piece of wood running up the back of the cut-out.)
- Use lots of Twinkle lights - These can be placed anywhere and always add a festive note. You can usually find some to borrow.
Set-up a food and drink area
This can be farmed out to another non-profit group. For instance, if your venue is a church social hall, consider asking the church’s ladies (or men’s) group to run the food drink area. That way the church can financially benefit too and they are more likely to barter cost of the room.
- One advantage to this option is that the group you choose will help in the marketing of the event by calling on their supporters to attend. Another advantage is that you plan for the area needed but don’t have to secure volunteers to man it or secure items to sell. Some groups you could ask:
- Church Groups
- Boy Scout or Girl Scout Troops
- Grandmothers Clubs
- Fraternal organizations (especially if using their venue)
- Whether you run it or not, popular items to sell could be hot chocolate, coffee, bottled water, sodas, homemade whole pies, cakes and rolls (pumpkin or jelly rolls), individually bagged/boxed decorated cookies, Rice Krispy® treats, divinity, peanut butter balls, brownies, peanut brittle, mini loaves of assorted breads, etc… Just be sure to comply with any state/local laws concerning selling homemade goods.
- Name your food and drink area to go along with your theme. Ideas:
- Sugar Plum Bakery
- Candy Cane Concessions
- Gum Drop Confectioners
- Rudolph’s Refreshments
- Make signs to advertise where it is in the room
Sample Floor Plan:
Now that you have donations, a venue, floor plan, décor and a food area, you are ready to start publically promoting the event. Some ideas for this include:
- Writing a PSA to submit to local newspapers, radio and television stations. Some newspapers will let you send them a short article and picture about your event and print it in the community section for free. Others will actually send a reporter to interview someone about the event.
- Flyers posted on bulletin boards of local businesses and organizations
- Grocery Stores
- Drug Stores
- Factory Breakrooms
- Chambers of Commerce
- Similarly, ask these types of businesses and organizations to add your event to their website. Most Chambers of Commerce and cities have “Community Calendars” where they will post your event for free. If not, ask if you can include an advertisement for the event in their newsletter if they have one.
- If your organization has a website or newsletter, post an open invitation with details.
- Ask friends or committee members to post a blurb on their blogs. They can give some background information about your organization and how the proceeds will be used as well as pumping the event itself.
- Committee members (and anyone else that will) can post homemade yard signs in their yards a week or two before the event to help with promotion. Think of how the real estate industry does this. People are naturally curious and will read your signs.
Now you have a complete Plan of Action and can get started on all the tasks at hand. Use your committee members — meet regularly or keep everyone in the loop thru email. Communication is key!
You are now prepared to have a success Festival of Trees Event!
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