20 Tips for Planning a Spring Carnival

Whether it’s for school, church or another organization, hosting a carnival is a fun, community building way to raise money. However, it can be a significant undertaking, too. Whether this is your organization's first carnival or an annual event, you need to ensure that all the pieces come together on carnival day.  Here are some great tips for a successful event.

1. Be organized! It is the single most important factor in planning a successful event that will continue to grow each year. To save time and cut down on distracting delays, go electronic and be e-mail accessible.
2. Set goals. Before you start, make sure your objectives are clear and concise. You are more likely to reach goals that have been set from the beginning.
3. Attend other events. Before planning one of your own, do your research. Attending other events in your community will help you determine must-have’s for yours.
4. Budget. Don’t even think about starting to plan without having a budget mapped out. Appoint a treasurer to be responsible for money coming in and going out.
5. Determine theme. Consider setting a theme for your carnival for added fun.
6. Assemble your team. Recruit coordinators and schedule your volunteers well in advance. Set a timeline and assign tasks.  For volunteer recruitment tips, click here.

Genius Tip: Save time and frustration by organizing your entire event on SignUpGenius, and email your sign up to interested parties so they can sign up for activities at their convenience.

7. Communicate. Give directions from the onset for fewer questions, less back-and-forth and less frustrated volunteers and vendors.
8. Committee Planning. A big helpful group is great, but it’s always better use of your volunteers’ time to form smaller groups to tackle each area including volunteer recruitment, collecting donations, selling sponsorships, decorations, set up/take down, advertising, games and entertainment.
9. Keep it simple. Choose attractions that require minimal setup, that are easy to get involved in, and not too complex in the planning.
10. Sell sponsorships. Want to take your fundraising efforts to the next level AND pave the way for a more successful event year after year? Sell corporate sponsorships and provide exposure to local businesses on event signage, marketing materials and advertising prior to, during, and after the event.

Genius Tip: Make it easy for sponsors to get involved by outlining perks clearly and offering several different price options. Sell sponsorships online by creating a real time sign up with SignUpGenius Payments!

11. Know your audience. Although you should have something for everyone, high school carnivals may require different attention grabbing, mature activities than an elementary school event.
12. Plan something for all ages. Include a wide variety of games with lots of different prizes, a silent auction, concession stands, and a small general store for selling branded items.
13. Booth-planning begins! Plan your booths or attractions with the following criteria in mind: your carnival's budget, both daytime and nighttime asthetics, adherence to theme, game playability and appropriateness of prizes.
14. Tried and true. Test your carnival toys and games before selling. It can be frustrating to purchase items only to find out during the carnival that they do not work.
15. Get community involved! Invite community organizations or campus groups to partake in your carnival events to diversify and enlarge the crowd. Possibly showcase another community group to provide additional entertainment or attractions.

Genius Tip: Create a list of community “needs” or set up a donation list via an online sign up. It’s a great way to get more people involved! See EXAMPLE.

16. Mementos, please! Include creative attractions that allow the kids to create a memory and take something home with them. Whatever you choose to have them create, include your church or school name and the date.
17. Emergency back up. Always plan for emergency situations and have back up help. When you have an event that is open to the public, be aware of city guidelines and restrictions.
18. Advertise. Get the word out on the street – literally. Spread the word about your event in areas people pass a lot to draw a crowd of passersby. Most local businesses are happy to post signs for community events.
19. Make the most of the crowd. Advertise any upcoming school, church or community events or recent accomplishments in a prominent place during your carnival.
20. Give back. Announce in all your advertisements where your carnival proceeds will go. With all of the events that you do throughout the year, make it clear that the money is to put back into the community or school.

Now you are all set to coordinate a great Spring Carnival for your organization. Happy planning!

by Kate White and Helena LaGarde