Connecting with community groups

Connecting with Community Groups

Whether you’re organising a school open day, carols by candlelight, market day, fete—even a trivia night or musical—you don’t have to ‘do it all’ yourself. This is particularly true when your group is small but your ideas are big. By inviting other community groups to play a role you can make your event happen without spreading yourself too thin.

Here’s how.

List the myriad of activities that your event could benefit from. What do you have the capacity to do—and do well? What is the expertise of your members? How can you fill the gaps by inviting local community groups to come in and support you?

For example, a local botanic garden’s hall is booked most weekends for exhibitions hosted by groups of greenfingers (floral society, bonsai, orchid growers) and a few specialist craft groups (woodturners and glass artists). The exhibitors charge a small entry (to cover the hall hire), run a raffle and are on hand to raise their group’s profile, provide advice and sell some of their wares. But they value-add to the experience by linking with another community group or two (such as Red Cross or Countrywomen’s Association) to provide a café.

This provides the caterers with a small revenue source and turns the host’s exhibition into more of an outing. It can benefit sales too.

Likewise school fetes. Food stalls run by different ethnic groups, for example, add flavour and variety. Need entertainment? Create a program of events mixing it up with Year level performances and ‘outsiders’ —dance troupes, the local taekwondo club and so on. Chances are they’ll also draw in their own supporters (family and friends) who are unlikely to leave your event without spending a few dollars.

The 2017 Bribie Island Fete saw many local groups running activities to support the school. Rotary ran the ‘Chocolate Toss’ and the Lions ran the sausage sizzle. In this way, they were able to offer a full range of activities even with limited support from volunteers within the school.

One ‘out of the box’ idea I have heard of happens at a school open day. Amid the classroom exhibits and performances, the cake stall and sausage sizzle, a priest (who was a hairdresser) has his barber’s chair and clippers at the ready and offers haircuts in exchange for a donation. Visitors love the unexpected advantage of getting the kids’ hair trimmed—and he raised money for an overseas orphanage. Involving other community groups instills goodwill. It can boost your event’s offerings too.

If it isn’t help on the day, perhaps it can be the loan of equipment, shared contacts to approach for sponsorship, or some other form of co-operation. Many a raffle barrel have been borrowed from your local RSL club!

Other ways to work with your local community include inviting your local firies or police to attend your event as a display. This is always popular with the community!