Monday, December 5, 2016

Is your Holiday Fair Fun?

You’ve heard the saying Shop Local, well I really put it to the test shopping ‘til I drop at the schools, churches, community centers and libraries, supporting my nonprofits.  I buy almost all my gifts at these events and then I supplement by making calendars of photos I’ve taken throughout the year.  Of course, if you have a teen boy to buy for, it may not work completely for you and you may end up at the mall.  Power tools also don’t seem to be sold. 

As a management consultant, however, I’m always thinking about what makes sense.  Of course, the first question is: do these holiday fairs raise money?  You can, of course, add up how much you make.  That doesn’t require a consultant. 

That brings me to an issue I can help you with.  Is there a purpose to your holiday fair?  I’m dismayed there are no signs informing me about a goal or purpose. I suppose they assume it is a given that the money helps the community center or daycare or library.  Of the many fairs I attended this November and December, my local high school fair was the only one with a purpose and I’m jealous; it was to raise funds for the kids to go to Guatemala.  Even the church fair, temporarily in the local firehouse, didn’t have a sign even though I full well know that the church is remodeling its kitchen and community room. 

I recently read that nonprofits are increasingly using twitter to raise money.  Since these are short bursts of information, the nonprofit must keep to the point, something like only $2,000 to reach our goal for a new gym.  A simple sign as you enter the holiday fair might do the same   Of course, I’ll still go no matter.

Maybe the purpose is tied to tradition and emotions.  It’s fun to shop, get together, and have a homemade doughnut or muffin in the morning at one fair and wind up at another fair to have chowder or soup with friends, acquaintances, and parishioners.  That doesn’t mean your nonprofit board shouldn’t look at the cost and commitment.  I was concerned when I saw one of the libarians volunteering her time at the holiday book sale.    Librarians don’t get paid much and to volunteer is a commitment. 

My question to your board is: is the holiday fair fun for volunteers and staff?  I hope you answered yes, because I’ll be there!