A popular reason for hosting a Christmas Tree Festival is to raise some money and many thousands of pounds can be gained through a spectacular Christmas Tree Festival.
There are numerous way in which a Christmas Tree Festival can generate large sums of money. The locality and where the Christmas Tree Festival is being held may naturally help decide some of these answers e.g. a town centre Festival will automatically have a crowd to draw from whereas one in an isolated location or one without any parking will have to work harder to attract visitors. Either way most people are prepared to donate to charity in some form or other and especially at Christmas, the traditional time of good will. A Christmas Tree Festival can be a popular and major fundraiser for churches, local charities and national charities too especially so if there has been a recent tragic event or natural disaster.
Fundraising by charging to decorate a Christmas tree
Groups and organisations can pay to decorate a Christmas tree. The trees can be ordered or provided by the host and decorators pay the hosts to be part of the Festival. Christmas Tree Festivals charge from £10 upwards to decorate a tree with some Festivals seeing this as an easy way to boost their funds and charge a higher rate especially if their Christmas Tree Festival is well established and popular. Businesses often have more money than a charity to pay to decorate a tree so think about who is going to be targeted to decorate the trees and how much they would be willing to pay. Charities may be put off by paying a large sum of money as they don’t have that sort of spare cash but on the other hand it could be a small price to pay for the amount of publicity it generates. Businesses often have a marketing budget and would be prepared to pay more so it may be appropriate to have a business rate, a charity rate and an individual or family rate to decorate a tree.
Fundraing by charging an entrance fee for visitors
If visitors pay to enter the Christmas Tree Festival this can bring in huge sums. Entrance charges vary with £3.50 being a high charge although this can include refreshments and a programme too. When deciding what to charge for an entrance fee consider if there is to be one fee for everyone or whether to charge child, student and senior discounted rates. Bear in mind that higher charges might prevent some people from looking round the Festival whereas a lower charge would not exclude them but not so much money per visitor will be collected. Is it more beneficial to have more people in at a lower entrance fee or less people in at a higher entrance rate? Or is the Christmas Tree Festival of such a high standard that large numbers of visitors will pay a top price to see the trees?
Fundraising by charging for refreshments
Refreshments could be included in the price of the entrance charge. These could be served on the premises or in a nearby home or hall. Including refreshments will encourage visitors to stay longer and look at what else is linked with the Christmas Tree Festival e.g. a craft stall or art exhibition.
If refreshments aren’t included in the entrance fee they could be purchased separately or served on a donation basis. Some groups find that they can collect more money from asking for donations rather charging a set price.
Having a refreshment area laid out with seasonal tablecloths and fresh table decorations adds to the enjoyment and atmosphere of the experience. Serving drinks in matching crockery and having mouth-watering cakes on plates with doylies and Christmas serviettes is likely to make the experience more pleasant and positively memorable than a drink in a chipped mug with a custard cream or rich tea biscuit.
Refreshments can be donated or made by members. Another alternative is to approach a local shop or supermarket and ask if they will sponsor the coffee or cakes. If not try for a bulk deal or visit a nearby Cash and Carry outlet.
Christmas is traditionally a time to eat Christmas cake, Stolen and mince pies and the refreshments can be focused around these goodies for a seasonal atmosphere. If space and man power are readily available lunches such as jacket potatoes with a choice of fillings or tasty homemade soup with crusty bread may be another and popular option to raise some more funds.
For a Christmas Tree Festival that lasts for a long weekend having a lunch option may be more of a reality as volunteers tend to be willing to help for a weekend rather than be able to commit for longer periods. Again it is something to consider when planning a Christmas Tree Festival at the very beginning but it is worth being aware that light meals can boost the overall total raised by a considerable sum.
Fundraising by having collection boxes under the Christmas tree
Some Christmas Tree Festivals have allowed charities and organisations who have decorated a tree to have a collecting box underneath their tree where visitors can donate directly to that cause. If there are various boxes with money in there is an added security issue to think about especially if the money is left there overnight or for a few days without being emptied. It would be a worthwhile precaution to have various extra stewards on duty if you have a Festival with money spread around the building. Perhaps some of the charities or groups involved may be able to provide some volunteers to help with the Stewarding or at least to stand near their own tree. This would also give the charity or group the opportunity to talk about what they do and answer any questions visitors may have.
Charity collecting boxes prove to be popular and visitors often arrive with a money bag of small change to distribute amongst the boxes. Children can enjoy deciding which trees to give some money too. Having these collecting boxes underneath or next to the trees encourages the decorators to spend time making their tree as best as they are able to and makes the Christmas Tree Festival of a very high standard.
Sometimes the charity collecting boxes can also be linked in with a competition for the ‘favourite decorated Christmas tree’. The box that has collected the most money can be announced as the most popular tree.
After the Christmas Tree Festival is it polite to the let the public know how much money has been raised in the collecting boxes and to say a big thank you to all those who had donated.
Fundraising by having a special collection at a Christmas Tree Festival Carol Service
It is not unusual to have a Carol Service or a Christmas Concert during a Christmas Tree Festival and a retiring or special collection at this can generate some extra funds for the church, group or charity. If the collection money is to be given to a local charity it may be good to have a representative to read one of the Bible readings or say a little about where the money is going.
Fundraising by selling programmes
A programme can list all the Christmas trees and a little detail about them. Some visitors like to take a souvenir of their visit home with them to read in more detail and even to keep. Decorators like to see their names in the programme and if this is the case will often buy a couple of copies for themselves. The programme can list the title of the Christmas trees and who they were decorated by and perhaps some information about the tree or decorations and the group or organisation. It really depends on the number of trees you have and the size of the programme. Details about a large number of trees would create a bulky programme and cost more to produce which would be reflected in the programme charge to visitors. Yet for a smaller Christmas Tree Festival some more detailed information in a programme adds to the personal touch and intimate experience of the Christmas Tree Festival.
Within the programme some other fundraising events that will be taking place the next year could be listed so that visitors can put the dates in their diaries in good time. Something about the Church or organisation or charity where the money will be going is useful and can encourage people to be generous.
Fundraising by having an Art Exhibition
Pictures, especially original ones can make wonderful Christmas presents and where could be a better place to buy them than at a Christmas Tree Festival. If you have half of your building dedicated to Christmas trees an idea for the other half is to use it for an art show where some of the pictures are sold. An alternative venue would be to use a nearby hall or other rooms.
The local art [or photography] club may like to use the Christmas Tree Festival as an opportunity to sell some of their paintings [or photos] and would be willing to organise the show or exhibition with a percentage going to the Christmas Tree Festival.
Fundraising by having a Bric a Brac Stall
People have always got things they don’t want and many like to donate their unwanted items to the church or charities they support. If they are going to get rid of them anyway why not let the Christmas Tree Festival benefit from them. Providing they are in good condition and there is an area without any trees they could be sold at the Christmas Tree Festival and the profits added to the total raised.
If you are going to have a stall you can advertise this a few months earlier and start collecting items to sell so that the stall can be a big one or if smaller, replenished on a regular basis.
An alternative to selling bric a brac is to have a book, DVD/CD or cake stall. Or if you have the space and volunteers you could have more than one stall and combine a Christmas Tree Festival with a Christmas Fair too.
Fundraising by having a Craft Stall
At Christmas a craft stall selling homemade items is very popular. People are always looking for something different to give as a present to someone who has everything so here is the opportunity to fill a gap in the market. Quite often visitors are prepared to pay a little extra for something if they know that the money is going to a good cause. These days there are so many ideas of what to make on the internet so choose what you like and start to be creative. Even better make them with a friend or in a group and encourage each other.
When selling the craft items it is good to have them near the refreshments as people sitting drinking their coffee can eye up the stall as they sit.