Online fete!?

The school fete is among the long list of cancelled events this year. While other events have been moving online, could that really work for a fete? Latham Primary School P&C decided to give it a try!

“It has really been driven by need,” explained Fete Coordinator, Jo Dynon. “Pre-COVID, we had collected items for hampers, gathered donations and prizes. We had to sit down and think - what do we have, how can we deal with it now, what is perishable, what is possible?”

“We ended up doing a quick raffle for the perishable items and then taking a bit more time to look at each part of our fete and what we could do now. All along we have been driven by what volunteers have been interested in and offered to do.”

The result is a rolling program of events, sales and fundraisers, culminating in Online Fete Day on October 24.

The lead up included off-site and virtual White Elephant stall, a student-based “Latham’s got talent” competition, and $1000 cash raffle.

“For the White Elephant, we worked closely with the school to decide what they were comfortable with, and had a wonderful team of mums work offsite to sort through the items we had collected for our physical fete,” explained Jo. “We sold the items via bank deposit using our closed P&C Facebook group, with pre-planned pickup times. Anything not sold was offered to our school (books), our OSHC (games, puzzles, dressups etc), a garage sale, and then our local Buy Nothing group. This was all very time and labour intensive.”

The $1000 raffle was the re-birth of an old school tradition, but this time was online.

“We have gone through Raffle Link,” said Jo. “They have been great, there’s someone to help you set it all up. It’s been pretty easy, and there’s a smaller than usual commission for schools because of COVID.”

Fete day itself will run from 3-7pm as usual and will start with ‘Lap around Latham’ – a parade of classic and muscle cars that would otherwise have been on show at the fete.

“The cars will follow a known route around the suburb, including passing the school twice and we will live stream it to Facebook as well,” Jo said. “That will be followed by videos on Facebook and the fete website with more entertainment.”

Entertainment will include special guest appearances, kids’ challenges, raffle draws, and some of the usual fete performances.LathamOnlineFete

“Fete day ends with an online Trivia Night. It’s one of the few things we are charging for - $5 entry. We have a parent who has done something similar at work and is taking care of that. She is using a platform called Mentimeter. It has a fun and engaging look. We tested it over the holidays.”

As Jo is explaining, it becomes clear she has a great team of people behind her. “There’s a person looking after the details” she keeps saying.

“It is wonderful. I have lots of parents who take on a piece of the whole and just run with it. You know it will happen. And they’re doing that piece how it best suits them.”

One parent built the fete website. The site makes a range of fete favourites available for sale – show bags, fairy floss, plants and craft items, play-dough buckets and raffle tickets.

“We’ll start really pushing all of that the week of the fete” said Jo.

With fete day fast approaching, are people looking forward to it?

“It’s a bit hard to tell when you are not seeing people face-to-face at the moment and not able to remind everyone,” said Jo. “We have had to be creative about getting people’s attention. We have a parent who is a graphic designer who has made some template graphics for us to use in the newsletter and on Facebook so people know what is happening.”

“The fete is not really going to be how I envisaged it, but I like to see things through to the end when I’ve committed to something.”

So, how did it go?

Well, they hit their fundraising goals, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Jo got back to us after it was all done and dusted with an update:

"On the day, we unfortunately had to make the call to cancel the Lap Around Latham due to weather, but on the other hand this meant we had some extra families viewing the online activities! Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which has been lovely, and over the next few weeks I will finalise Lucky Door Prizes and Thank you's before we wrap up," she said.

"Overall, including the fete-related fundraising earlier in the year, we had a profit of approximately $9700!" This included:

  • $3550 in sales on our website (the Mega Raffles, Fete Favourites and Trivia), after over 6556 website views, 1016 on Fete Day, and 139 orders for 596 items. 
  • We had $2510 worth of sales for the Raffle via Rafflelink (who were just fabulous throughout - lots of easy to digest documentation showing processes, but also happy to answer emails and phone calls). 

"The gratitude we have for our families, supporters, sponsors? It's absolutely endless!"

We asked what platform the P&C used to take online payements and Jo explasined. "we were going to use a simple Big Cartel site (free if 5 items or less - easy to use) combined with PayPal for payments. Then one of our mums offered her skills for free and set up a site and added sales functionality using the free WooCommerce plugin."

"With the right knowledge, creating all of this is free (except for registering domain etc), but having Roxanne involved meant we could utilise her skills to easily set up the framework/correct plugins and provide us with some basic graphic design styles. For a number of reasons we used PayPal as our payment gateway, but I’ve also heard good things about stripe, and others, like eway."

"Having a parent with website/graphic development knowledge was invaluable. Oh, and Canva is my new best friend! How awesome is it!?"

"Families loved the Fete Favourites (especially the showbags created by the teachers) and the drive-through pickup at the school on the Friday worked really well!"

"I think with online, it was always going to be really hard to capture all families (especially this year - many families are a bit over technology), but the dual use of website and Facebook (and the blog style email updates for subscribers) seemed to work well for those who were interested. I've had several families tell us their grandparents watched all the videos and it has really opened up family dialogue (with new plans for wicking beds and all kinds of family projects!)."

A brilliant outcome, congratulations team!

This article is part of a series "At Out P&C..." sharing great things that ACT P&Cs are doing.