How Book Fair Fundraisers Work
The general principle behind book fair fundraising is fairly simple. Your organization obtains books and sells them at a profit to people who come to your fair. Book fairs are often paired with other kinds of fundraising, such as bakesales and silent auctions, and are most often held on Saturday afternoons.
In order to hold a book fair, you'll need:
- About six months for planning.
- A large room or hall.
- Display materials such as bookcases, tables, hook-holder book stands, and posters.
- Advertising with posters, fliers, and through local media.
- A fundraising committee to help you with all aspects of the event.
- Lots of great books!
Where to Find Books
First off, let's start with where to get the books for this kind of fundraiser. Work with your fundraising committee to form an extensive list of popular authors and book titles from lots of different genres, so your fair will have something for everyone. Children's literature and seasonal books are proven sellers. Once you've got a good list going, begin gathering titles. Asking your congregation for donations of old titles can be a great place to start, but don't stop there!
Local flea markets are one of the best places to find extremely cheap used books -- you can find hundreds of popular titles on a given morning. Contact local bookstores to see if they'd be willing to donate books to your cause or offer you a discounted purchase price. Many such stores are happy to help in return for advertising their community service at your event.
Working with Book Fair Companies
There are also a number of companies designed specifically to help you hold a book fair. These businesses are designed to make your fundraiser as easy as possible -- they provide an extensive list of books from which to choose, advertising materials, suggestions for displaying your product, and even people to help you with setting up and tearing down after the event is complete.
As you might expect, such help carries with it a stiff price -- you can expect to receive about 30% of the revenues from a book fair if you choose to work with a company. However, for some churches (especially those for whom the costs of running their own fair might be prohibitive), working with a book fair company is a wise choice, and can generate some good revenue.
Where to Hold Your Book Fair Fundraiser
Whether you're obtaining books yourself or working with a company, large spaces are best for fundraisers of this kind -- the more room you have available, the greater the number of books you'll be able to display and sell. Church meeting halls and basements are typically well-suited for an event of this kind, but use your best judgment -- you want a space in which there's proper lighting and plenty of space for both the tables and bookcases you'll be setting up and your guests who will be moving in and around them.
Book Fair Setup and Display
Selling is often a matter of presentation -- you want to display your books in a logical and attractive way, so that people will be drawn in and, once they're in, will be able to find what they want. After you've chosen the space in which you'll hold your book fair, create a floor plan of the room and draw up a map of how you'd like to arrange your bookcases and tables where you'll later display your titles. Some great ideas for laying out your space include:
- Making a semicircular display of bookcases facing the entrance to the room.
- Keeping tables six feet apart to allow plenty of space for people to move between them.
- Setting up the cashier's table to the side of the entrance / exit so that people will have no trouble finding it when they've found the books they'd like to purchase.
Once you've decided on how to set up your room, think about how your tables and bookcases will look. Choose popular, colorful titles for the areas that will be the most prominent. On tables, think about decorating with fabric and boxes, creating an attractive "tiered" effect that will bring people from across the room to look at a title.
When arranging your books, you may want to organize first by reading level, and then by subject. One table can be devoted to children's books, for example, with subcategories of fairytales, Dr. Seuss, etc., while the other tables can be designated as grown-up literature, with categories like romance, history, science fiction, western, etc.
Book Fair Advertising
Lastly, let's look at one of the most important aspects of any fundraiser -- advertising! Fliers and posters can be put up in local bookshops, libraries, community centers, and grocery stores about a month before the event, and again a day or two before your book fair is schedule to take place. Your fliers and posters should be classy and attractive, possibly incorporating some appropriate images from sites like Faithclipart.com. They will need to include all of the relevant information people need to know about your event -- who it will benefit, why you're holding it, who's hosting it, when and where it will be held, etc. If you have room, also consider including a small map, as this will greatly aid people in finding your fundraiser.
You may also want to contact your local media as a way of advertising your event. Place a notice or advertisement in your local paper's community calendar to let people in the community know about your book fair. Newspaper editors and "Lifestyle" or "Religion" section reporters may be interested in writing human interest pieces on your fundraiser.
Area radio stations may be willing to run public service announcements for you, so be sure to get in touch with them as well. Finally, prepare a press release, and send it to editors, reporters, book reviewers, education representatives, and the leaders of other area churches about two weeks prior to your event in order to drum up further interest.
Book fairs can be complicated affairs, but with proper planning and a lot of hard work, they can be a great way to raise money for your church or religious organization.