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Many schools struggle to raise the needed money for important needs. School fundraisers are a great way to help raise money, but pulling off a successful fundraiser can be tricky. Fortunately, parents and kids alike can usually get excited by a carnival-themed fundraiser, if it’s done well. From carnival games to planning strategies, here are six tips for making your carnival fundraiser do what you need.

  1. Get the right people going in the right direction. The first thing you’ll need is a small, but enthusiastic team of parents to serve on a committee to arrange the event. Too many people and you’ll never get anything decided. Too few and you people will get overwhelmed. With your committee, set a concrete goal (raising X amount of money; raising awareness for the school or for a charity, etc). Finally, make sure you’ve set a clear theme, as this will help bound and direct ideas.
  2. Set your initial specifics of where, when, and how. In this phase, you need to decide where you’ll hold the event and when. You’ll also want to know how much space you have to work with: will there be room for inflatable obstacle courses, or should you stick to just a jump house? How many carnival games can you set up? Will there be room for a good variety of snack and carnival food stands? What is your budget?
  3. Get all your permission in order before you do anything more. Before you start planning who will man the popcorn stand, plan any carnival games, or get an inflatable slide rental, you need to make sure that school admin and boards have signed off on your idea. Then make sure you have the right insurance coverage and that you’ve obtained any permits you might need. Some cities will require permits if there is any food offered for sale, or if electricity is needed for outdoor use.
  4. Find and nail down staff as early as possible. You don’t want to plan everything and then discover you don’t have enough people to man all the carnival games! You’ll need staff to welcome and direct visitors, to help with setup and cleanup, to man booths for carnival games or food, to keep an eye on your inflatables, and even to keep an eye on the money. You’ll also want a few people available to run for anything that might be needed, from a first aid kit to more cupcakes from the fridge. If you can find a nurse, doctor, or even off-duty EMT who might be willing to be around for possible emergencies, that’s always great.
  5. Make your games fun and interactive. It might seem impossible to plan carnival games that digital-age kids would like, but you’d be surprised. Anything where they can interact, and be cheered on by friends or family, are usually a winner. There are lots of carnival game ideas online. Just be sure to field test them with your own kids first.
  6. Get your food in order early. Food is one of the best things about your carnival fundraiser. It’s a great way to provide interest and make money, but things can go badly wrong without careful planning. Get as many donations as you can, and use volunteers as much as possible. Plan amounts well: always plan for a bit extra just in case. People get hungry in between carnival games.

It’s hard to pull off a successful fundraiser, but the rewards of doing so can be immense. With some careful planning and helpful volunteers, your school even can be a huge success.

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