A Fair Trade event is a great way to promote Fair Trade in your congregation, campus, or community. You can host it as a consignment sale or as a bazaar. Follow the steps below for a successful event.
SIX MONTHS TO ONE YEAR IN ADVANCE:
1. Educate yourselves on fair trade. Read information from Fair Trade resource websites. Attend some Fair Trade events in your area. Then talk to your school, congregation, or community leader as you will need their support.
- From Ohio Fair Trade Network: History of Fair Trade, Why We Need It, Fair Trade and the Environment, Fair Trade and Faith, Mistaken for Fair Trade
- From the Fair Trade Federation: What is Fair Trade?, Fair Trade Federation Principles
- From Catholic Relief Services: What is Fair Trade?, CRS Fair Trade Program Brochure, Fair Trade vs. Conventional Trade
2. Choose a team. Ideally, a team should consist of between three and seven people. The three core individuals should be 1) a liaison to the community 2) the bean counter for budgets and 3) the scheduler to keep everything on track. Having additional individuals to help out with these functions is great, but teams larger than seven can get unwieldy.
3. Pick a date. Be early on your site’s calendar planning, and make certain there is a space large enough for the event. Holiday sales usually do best because people are buying gifts and are more open to making purchases. There is, however, always the potential of “holiday sales burnout” and any date that works with your mission can be considered. Earth Day on April 22nd and World Fair Trade Day on the first Saturday in May are a couple of examples.
4. Decide on a mission. This should be more than just about money. How much will you promote fair trade and economic justice in the Global South versus your mission for which the funds will be used? Can you turn this into a teachable moment?
SIX TO NINE MONTHS IN ADVANCE:
1. Start to contact the vendors so that you will have a nice selection. As the awareness of fair trade grows, there are a lot of demands on them.
2. As you have a better idea of the space needed and the number of vendors, start a drawn floor plan. Start a list of needs: tables, chairs, table covers, volunteers, etc.
3. Decide if you will create your own table. There are suppliers for product which you can sell. See the Ohio Fair Trade Network website for information on chocolate and flowers, and the CRS website on consignment sales, for Serv products that can be had on consignment.
FOUR MONTHS IN ADVANCE:
1. Consider a product offering if the event is a fund raiser or if you will have a table at your boutique. Make sure that the products fit into your event. For example, if you are solely a woman’s group, consider accessories. If the event is scheduled near the holidays, be sure to offer gift type items. If it’s around Earth Day, products should be from up-cycled or re-purposed material.
2. Choose a supplier for your fund raiser or table at the boutique. There is a list of fair trade suppliers and retailers can be found here, but you can certainly go beyond this list. So long as the supplier fits into your mission and target audience, it should work. Decide if the event will be a consignment sale or bazaar. Catholic Relief Services has information on Fair Trade consignment sales.
THREE MONTHS IN ADVANCE:
1. Begin working on promotion. Besides creating a flyer , consider signs, balloons, a door prize which a local business can provide which fits into your theme. Hand outs explaining fair trade are also a good idea, and material can be found from various sources including the Fair Trade Federation.
2. Create a flyer that can be distributed in both paper and electronic form. Add excitement to it by going beyond the values of fair trade to the wonderful items that are available. Tell your audience what’s in it for them. Give fliers to the members of the planning group to have for handouts during conversations with friends and associates.
3. Make use of your church’s bulletin or community or campus newsletter to introduce members to some of the vendors. The more people know about who is helped, the more they will participate.
TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE:
1. Create an email list to use for promoting the event. This list can consist of church members, community groups, friends, etc. If this is an open event, consider a Facebook page to promote it. It’s free, and if members of your group recommend to their friends on Facebook, it will have a multiplying effect.
2. Find a speaker who can volunteer time to explain fair trade and your mission. Have them available in the period immediately preceding the event.
3. Start recruiting volunteers to help that day. You might need set-up, vendors need help getting product in, you may need runners, and you will need volunteers to offer relief and breaks to vendors. If you have your own product table, you need people to cover that in shifts.
4. Consider having an information table. Decide what information and start collecting it. Some information is free to download, some is free by mail. You just need to allow enough time.
ONE MONTH IN ADVANCE:
1. Send out PR releases to your local newspapers. This is free, and it’s surprising how many people read their local paper. Of course, this is relevant only if the event is open to the public.
2. If you have not created a Facebook page for the event, have members of your group and community post the event on their Facebook page. Again, this applies only if the event is open to all.
THREE WEEKS IN ADVANCE:
1. If this is an open event, distribute the flyers in your area. Post them at local libraries, coffee shops, groceries, convenience stores, etc. Also, do your first email to the list that you created earlier.
2. Schedule your speaker. If you are a place of worship, having somebody talk about BOTH the good that the sale proceeds will do, and the concept of fair trade during the service the week before the event. This also applies if the fundraiser is a part of any group other than a place of worship.
ONE WEEK IN ADVANCE:
1. Meet one last time to review everything. Make a list, and go over it. Who will be responsible for putting up the signs, handing out raffle tickets (if you use them), greeting people at the door, etc.? Proper attention to details can result in a successful sale.
2. Have everything ready for the “big day.” Go over the inventory from your supplier to make sure everyone understands the product. Be sure to have an attractive looking display. Determine how payments will be made (cash, check – payable to whom), and don’t forget a cash box.
3. Send one more email blast out to your list.
4. Brief volunteers. Assign tasks. Volunteers assigned to help vendors should have information about the product.
5. Have a plan to relieve vendors as needed.
THE DAY OF THE EVENT:
1) Arrive early. Enjoy yourselves, and don’t worry. If you’ve done everything outlined above, you can feel satisfied that you’ve done your job “for the cause.”
2) Later in the day, schedule a follow-up meeting. Discuss how you did, what went right, what went wrong, and future plans. And finally, don’t forget to thank all of the volunteers who helped with this and show your appreciation.