How to run a successful twilight market fundraiser
The phenomenon of twilight market fundraisers has nothing to do with sparkly teenage vampires and everything to do with community fundraising! They are an increasingly popular fundraising event run by schools, clubs or church committees that offer a mix of stalls – the centrepiece of which is often a craft stall.
Typically held in a familiar onsite environment, twilight markets provide a relaxed space for guests to wander around buying refreshments, browsing the stalls and enjoying the opportunity for some peaceful shopping without young children around.
Twilight markets are all about the stalls and tasty fare on offer and are made even more appealing for attendees when themed to coincide with special times of the year like Christmas, Mother’s Day and even Halloween.
Here are few tips event organisers should consider when planning a twilight market:
The craft stall
Craft stalls typically include items handmade by the community and donated for sale. Some committees form a craft club (sometimes cheekily referred to as a ‘stitch and bi*ch club) well in advance to ensure that there is a well stocked selection of beautifully presented items to sell on the day.
Suggested craft items
- Fabric bunting – a very popular decorating option for children’s rooms
- iPhone cover – a felt case that is beautifully decorated will be a big seller
- Scarves and beanies – a classic but always a hit
- Pencil cases – always popular and so many uses!
- Capes – of the superhero variety!
- Aprons – for the littlies as well as grownups!
Food and beverage
Cake stalls are a perennial favourite, but are getting edged out by trendy stalls selling cupcakes, donuts and macaroons. A nice addition to cake stalls involves organising a coffee van to set up for the evening – many offer a per-cup fee or percentage back to your organisation.
You can also offer a champagne table and sell sparkling wine by the glass (check whether you need to get a permit). As well as offering refreshments to guests this can also serve as a wine tasting, allowing you to take orders on the night for custom labelled wine that raises further money for your organisation. Mini cheese platters can also be a lovely addition to the evening.
TIP – You can find suppliers of custom labelled wine by searching on this site 🙂
Invite local businesses to have a stall; even if they don’t sell anything it’s a great chance for them to talk to people while they mingle. You can charge these businesses per stall or you can ask for a percentage of sales on the night. I’ve even seen local businesses running sideshow games with the proceeds going to the host organisation!
Party plan companies welcome the chance to participate in twilight markets as it allows them to showcase all their products in one place, often to people who may not feel comfortable with the traditional party plan format.
You’re sure to find plenty of interested businesses or party plan reps within your community, or simply ask around. You can make a ‘wish list’ of stallholders you would like to attend, and work through them. Posting requests on your Facebook page as well as local community pages – until those spots are filled.
Don’t forget, donations from participating business and party plan companies can make great lucky door or raffle prizes.
I don’t even need to talk about decorating – this is the fun bit! You can’t go wrong with fairy lights at night 🙂
Around the world
You can run a competition where guests can complete a ‘passport’. Get people to collect stamps or a secret password from each stall. This encourages guests to mingle with stallholders and move around your event.
A twilight market can be a breath of fresh air and a great night out for your community. With a little prior planning and preparation, they can be a profitable fundraiser for your school, church or community group.
Mandy Weidmann is Australia’s ‘Fundraising Whisperer’ – publisher of the Fundraising Directory and author of the Practical Fundraising Handbook for School and Club Volunteers. Mandy believes that parent volunteers shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time and is passionate about providing resources to make fundraising easier (and more fun). Click here to learn more about school and club fundraising ideas in Australia.
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- Student Run Stalls
- 25 All-Time Best Fundraising Ideas
- Race around your city for amazing fundraising success
- Australian Raffle Rules