How to Make Money From an Event or Festival

29 Aug 2018

The clouds have vanished. The temperature has risen. The sun is here to stay. That means it’s time for shorts, sun lotion and festivals! If you’re tasked with organising a festival, making it profitable is as important as the weather. Below are some tips for making a festival a financial success.

Sponsorship – The biggest money is in getting sponsorships, but it’s also the hardest to achieve with no prior track record. 

Ticket Sales – Selling admission tickets is a great way to cover start-up costs and generate advance publicity for your festival. Advance ticket sales get people psychologically committed to attending your event. Offer early purchasers a discount and a bulk ticket sales discount.

Food Sales – Selling food items is a good way to raise money at any event from cupcakes to hot dogs to gourmet food. 

Food Festival Fundraiser Ideas:

  • Barbecue - Chicken wings/ Fried foods/ Ribs
  • Spices and Chili
  • Cupcakes and Doughnuts
  • Sweets and Confectionary
  • Jams and Condiments
  • Ethnic foods – French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Middle Eastern
  • Seafood – Clams, lobster, mussels, oysters, shrimp, sushi

Drink Sales – Beverage sales are a big money maker as are tastings or samplings of exotic beverages. Craft beer tastings, wine tastings, and specialty drinks will help you raise a lot of funds and make your event a bigger draw.

Drinks Festival Fundraiser Ideas:

  • Beer – Artisan, beer tastings, craft beer, seasonal
  • Coffee 
  • Milkshakes & smoothies
  • Wine
  • Cocktails

Vendor Booths – Charge vendors an exhibitor fee to sell their merchandise or food/beverages at your festival. 

Sell Event Merchandise:

  • Lanyards
  • Programmes
  • T-Shirts

Sell Gifts Customers Want - At festivals, shows and fairs stalls selling specific items, be it trendy jewellery, handmade pottery, floral arrangements, handmade soaps, etc. are popular.

Sell Gifts as Sets - When selling items such as cooking and kitchen gadgets, pottery, or consumables like soaps and lotions, try offering some sets that include your most popular items. 

Tournaments and Contests

Things like eating contests or “best of” competitions can raise money through competitor entry fees. They also provide focal points for day-long events that give people a reason to stay longer and spend more money at your event. 

Here are some examples:

  • Doggy Beauty Contest
  • Pie Eating
  • Best Cake
  • Bale Toss

Fitness Challenges - Whether it is running on a treadmill or rowing the fastest in a minute these challenges are entertaining as well as money making.

Commission from Selling Larger Items - Charge commission for large sales in either art and sculpture.

Hire a Caricaturist - Turn your next event into a money-maker by adding a talented artist to sketch funny portraits for a fee. 

Grab Bag Sales - Grab bags are like Christmas stockings. For your grab bag event, include a few nice items in the mix. There won't be a great gift in every bag, but some bags will be well worth the flat rate purchase price. 

Kids Games

We all know the pull of the arm. Having a few games to entertain the kids is always a winner and can be quite lucrative. Below are some popular suggestions.

  • Buried Treasure:  In a small sandbox, bury prizes and give children one minute to dig with a shovel to find their prize hidden in the sand. 
  • The Locksmith: About 15-20 closed locks must be opened in a certain amount of time.
  • Tin Can Alley: Ask for baked beans cans in advance and make sure they have no sharp edges. Have a book case with the back taken out to hold the cans. Have the cans in pyramids of three, six, etc. and give players super soakers to try and shoot the cans off! A very simple game that, because of the water element, will have children come back time and again. Give prizes out for number of cans shot down - the more cans, the better the prize.
  • Giant Playing Cards: Set up a person with a pack of large A4 cards and a platform to place them on and play the "Higher - Lower" game. If constructing a platform is difficult, just get a desk and sit behind it, holding the cards up as you draw them and then laying them on the table. The person who has the biggest run of cards in a row, wins the grand prize.
  • Toilet Roll Toss: Who can throw a toilet roll the longest? Does not take much money to set up and with a good enough prize will have the kids quickly competing with each other.

Face Painting – Always a favourite with kids and adults alike. 

Photo Booth – A must for any event or festival. 

Lessons and workshops: Group lessons can be an exciting addition to any festival or event.

Craft Workshops - Everybody comes away with something. Setting up multiple tables for different types of crafts works well, and holding hands-on demonstrations is a good way to get people curious and involved.