Social media is becoming more and more essential in marketing school events and fundraisers, and while it should not be the only form of advertising to promote an event, it is almost imperative that some form of online marketing is considered.
Updated August 2019
It is strange to think that Facebook is only fifteen years old. Many of us have children older than that. Twitter is about thirteen years old, while Pinterest and Instagram are only about nine years old.
Yet many of us use one or more of these forms of social media every day and as such, they have become useful tools for organising and promoting school and club fundraising events.
Facebook is probably the most useful tool for organising and promoting an event, while private Facebook groups can be used by the organising committee to discuss the event without filling up everyone’s inbox with lots of emails.
Twitter is useful to promote the event if you have a school/club/event account (assuming your twitter account has sufficient followers) and don’t forget to ask individuals within the school (or the local newspaper, council etc) who tweet to help promote the event.
Instagram is great when you have lots of beautiful pictures to share, particularly if you have been making beautiful handcrafts, sourcing great donations and prizes or have lovely pictures of people working hard behind the scenes.
Pinterest is brilliant for gathering ideas, although could also be used to advertise an event if you create an eye-catching graphic.
Using Facebook to organise and promote an event
Create a public Facebook page and call it the name of your event ie. Mt Henry Christmas Festival. For larger events, you can set it up three or even six months in advance and use it as a central communication point for the school (ie ask for donations for the plant stall, remind people there is a craft workshop next Thursday) as well as a way of building interest in the event.
Use it to advertise each new stall as they are confirmed: rolling out the information gradually will create a buzz and get people talking. You can schedule posts on Facebook, and by creating a calendar and posting regularly, you will build a following.
Canva is a great (free) tool to create eye catching and professional-looking images for Facebook and other forms of social media. You can also use it to design marketing materials such posters, flyers, invitations and gift cards. Once you have created a logo for your event, make sure you use it consistently on all advertising and promotional material. Here is a great example of a school fete page which used Canva to create templates.
Allow businesses who have stalls or who have donated goods/prizes to post on the page. You can mention this when you are soliciting donations – and if you can demonstrate you have hundreds of people following your page, it will be an additional form of advertising and marketing for them. If you are soliciting for premium sponsors, include a special social-media campaign as part of their package which might also include naming rights, signage, a free stall, VIP treatment or other incentives.
Ask families, supporters and donors to share your ‘Mt Henry Christmas Festival’ page on their Facebook pages.
Ask local businesses to share the link on their pages (real estate agents, local shopping centres, playgroups, other schools).
People like to read websites where they can get more information about an event, and a Facebook page is free (unlike a website). Create a memorable cover image with the main information (date, time, type of event, location) and then put lots of information in your ‘about’ page. You can constantly update this as new stalls and events are confirmed. It is also great to post last minute updates (if the weather impacts the event) and also to answer FAQ that might be asked from the community.
Put the call out for donations from wider community (especially for books, second hand toys, empty jars, plants etc). Clearly explain where donated goods should be left (ie corner of teachers’ carpark, brought to front office) and provide large marked boxes for donated items to be left.
Spend half an hour finding all the local Facebook pages who might share your post – mothers groups, community groups, local bloggers, local papers, walking groups etc… There is nothing stopping you from posting on their pages – they can choose to delete, promote or leave as a visitor post, or you can message them directly and ask them to promote your event.
Use your page to advertise exciting new auction items or raffle prizes, with a link to donors websites or Facebook pages if appropriate.
Don’t forget to let supporters know how much you raised on the day and thank all your donors.
Consider approaching the local newspaper to see if they will do a story on your event and the fact you are now using social media to promote it. If they decide to run the story, it will be even better marketing than a traditional advert in the paper. Find out here how to write a press release.
Be prepared for plenty of small business owners, market stall operators and food trucks to start contacting you via your Facebook page as soon as it goes live. Be prepared with a standard response, and if you prefer, write an automatic response that provides your policy/criteria for external providers and then direct them to email your school committee directly.
Author: Shannon Meyerkort
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