Planning Your Craft Fair
You should begin planning your crafts fair at least two months prior to the date you'd like to hold it. The most successful shows, however, are often planned about six months in advance. This will give you plenty of time to arrange all of the necessary details, as outlined below.
How Craft Fair Fundraisers Work
In terms of fundraising, craft fairs generally work by charging some sort of fee to those artisans who would like to display and sell their goods at the show. Sometimes this is a flat fee (fifty dollars for floor space, twenty dollars per booth, etc.), but it can also be a part of the booth's take for the day, normally ranging from 10% to 25%.
In order to run a craft fair, you'll need two things -- artisans to display their work, and a place for them to display it! This could be your group's meeting hall, basement, gymnasium, field (if the weather's good), or other suitable space, but also think about how your artisans will display their work - will you have tables and booths available, or will they need to bring their own?
If your church doesn't have appropriate space or equipment, talk to local schools and civic centers, which are often willing to allow use of their space and set-up at no charge for community service projects. As a last resort, these necessary items can be rented for a small fee.
To gather your artisans and craftspeople, it's best to go to other craft fairs throughout the year and to talk to the people who have booths set up to display their wares. Many of these folks are constantly on the lookout for new places to sell their handiwork, and will welcome your invitation. They may also be able to spread the word among the local craft community about your upcoming show.
If you're looking for more contacts, consider calling local Chambers of Commerce, who may be able to provide you with names and telephone numbers of craftspeople and craft fair organizers.
Scheduling Your Craft Show
Try to schedule your craft show on a weekend afternoon at a time that doesn't conflict with other craft shows, art openings, flea markets, or any other event which you think might draw people away from your fundraiser. The most popular time for craft shows is after Thanksgiving and prior to Christmas, but late spring and early fall are also great times to host an event of this kind.
Advertising Your Craft Show
There are many ways to successfully advertise a craft show. About a month before the show's scheduled date, print up fliers with all of the relevant information about your event, including a map to help people find you. Call your local newspapers and have the show placed in the Community Calendar section. Of course, spread the word to your congregation and those people on your mailing list.
You might also consider talking with an area radio station about creating a public service announcement, or even about setting up a booth at your craft fair with a live feed, which is sure to draw more people to your fundraiser. Approach local woodworkers about holding free lessons or demonstrations on the day of your craft show - if they're willing to donate their time, advertise these no-cost workshops to the public in your fliers and radio announcements.
Supplementing Your Craft Show Fundraising
Craft shows are great events to coordinate with other small kinds of fundraisers. You might hold a free drawing, gathering names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers in return for a shot at a prize donated by a local business. You can then use this contact information for newsletters and direct mail campaigns!
For a variation on the free drawing, have entries cost a dollar, gathering more money for your cause. It's good to hold multiple drawings of this kind throughout the course of the show, as it inspires continuous interest. You can also sell drinks and baked goods for a small fee, in the style of a bake sale. Another excellent supplement for this type of fundraiser is a silent auction, in which people write in bids for items donated by local craftspeople and businesses.
Hosting a craft fair can be a big project, but with sound planning, dedicated volunteers, and talented local craftspeople, this form of fundraising can be a great moneymaker for your church or religious organization.