Fundraising Street Fair Profit Centers

You’ve got a great street fair, now how do you find the profit centers inherent in event promotions. Street Fairs can be a catalyst for terrific fundraisers. Community assets create options.

Fundraising starts by considering the assets of your community. To find the best option, try multiple approaches based on who, or what, is located in your neighborhood or Main Street. Always start by making a list of the assets in your community including the people who might be helpful or supportive of your efforts.

treet vendors are reliable profit centers at festivals

Popular street fairs provide fundraising opportunities


Consider fundraising ideas within a street fair based on the assets of your community.

  1. If you have: Many businesses in your area > Create shared marketing programs
  • Start a “passport program” with local restaurants and retailers to raise money as well as promote in advance.
  • Organize a food or drink-tasting using donated product and selling tickets.
  • Sell SWAG bags with stuff from all those supporting businesses
  • Host a raffle contest where winners pick up prizes at participating businesses

Businesses, property owners or individuals who have a location, or near, the street where the fair takes place, need to be included in some way, a shared marketing program is a natural fit.


  1. If you have: Supporting Anchor Businesses > Offer *Full Sensory Sponsorship Opportunities:
Let sponsors touch fair attendees with booths providing free snacks

Sponsors love to give away treats

Develop a business sponsorship program by offering marketing opportunities based on the five senses

SEE – Advertisements, posters and flyers are the obvious places for sponsors to be promoted. Other opportunities include; banners displayed at activity areas or entrances, signs at stages, in programs and on T-shirts or other items sold.

HEAR – An MC announces sponsors from the stage or a prerecorded tape makes announcements at activity areas. Try to make announcements funny. Street performers can thank sponsors or be posted on tip signs.

TASTE – Sponsors can provide samples of snacks, coupons or water. Sponsored cooking competitions provide free tastes.

SMELL – Aroma is half the pleasure of tasting something. Allow sponsors to cook, give samples and provide food demonstrations that entice audiences their way. Smells are always free.

lively people make fun festival booths

Sponsors can have fun at festivals

TOUCH – Petting zoos or critter displays are a popular activity, especially if the sponsor’s target market is kids. Sponsors provide water, feed, rides or pictures with animals.

Seek in-kind donations from businesses in the district to reduce overall expenses. Most business owners want to promote their business and need a reason to get their name out to the public. Tailor sponsor benefits to appeal to their promotional needs. Sponsor outreach messages should be professional and consistent with your brand but remain lively and informal.

Find out what is important to potential sponsors. Don’t be discouraged by “no.” Large corporations, even small businesses, don’t give away money by nature. Build a relationship with someone in the company because “who you know” works especially well when fundraising by making sponsorship requests.

*Full Sensory Sponsorship Opportunities based on Sylvia Allen’s sponsorship secrets,


3. If you have: Strong Web Presence > Crowd funding

Use online fundraising crowdsourcing tools to raise money to pay for entertainers, buy supplies and equipment. Check out these tested programs or read this article from Go Fund Me article on the top 10 crowdfunding sitesKickStarterIndieGoGoIgnition Deck, Donor Perfect

Holiday shared promo ads

Businesses gain extra promotion on shared ads

  1. If you have: Community Newspaper > Cooperative Advertising

Consider media outlets that reach your target market(s). Ask them to donate space as a sponsor or give a discount on advertising. Make a small profit by dividing up the advertisement into spaces and charging a slight premium to participants. This fundraising idea also has the benefit of advertising your event!


  1. If you have: Many Volunteers > Sell Promotional Items

There are two main expenses involved in selling promotional items: 1. cost of goods sold (COGS), and 2. merchandising.

COGS. Sell the right stuff: Sell merchandise and memorabilia such as such as T-shirts, mugs, photos, food or other items that sell at events in your area.

Consider the kind of products your target market will purchase as a fundraiser. Do not put dates on items so inventory can be sold in future years. If this is not your first street fair, review previous year’s sales numbers to determine popular items.

easy to sell items

Smiley salespeople staff Main Street booth

Buy in bulk to score discounts. Search for low cost hats, T-shirts or SWAG items, and ask for donations or discounts from suppliers. Ask the T-shirt supplier if they would like to sponsor by providing items free or heavily discounted in exchange for promoting their products.

MERCHANDISING. Selling T-shirts, hats, bags, wrist bands and memorabilia not only brings in a little cash, it also provides sponsoring businesses a place to advertise. Decorate and display merchandise in attractive ways. Let fair-goers know you are fundraising!

Create a promo item that everyone will want, be creative, yet cautious. Don’t just print “Street Fair” on a T-shirt – punch it up! In Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood, organizers created “Monta Villains” T-shirts, that people loved.

Promote your items in advance. Dynamic, colorful signs are critical to sales, almost as much as salespeople. use gregarious volunteers to “hawk” wares in a positive and engaging way.


  1. If you have: Large Area
 > Street Vendors

    Food vendors are in demand at Street Fairs

    Select the best vendors for corner locations

The fees that vendors pay can cover as much as one-third of a total fair budget. vendor mix and maximum number are among the important considerations for vendors. Attendance will dictate how many vendors end up happy with their sales. Be conservative at first, starting with a small area. Add more later.

Be consistent with all vendors and groups. Consider the mix of vendors, try to have as much diversity as possible. Keep in good communication with vendors with regular updates. Consider your site design carefully and make sure vendors don’t compete with existing businesses. Your promotions strategy should include social media outreach to vendors.


  1. If you have: Hospitality Sponsors > Beverage Tents
Beer and wine garden fundraisers

Beer gardens raise funds

Seek drink donations and host a beer, distillery or wine garden. The trick is to get your beverage of choice donated, or depending on State regulations, create partnerships that allow for promotions and follow rules carefully. Substantial marketing exposure can be offered with a title sponsorship of gardens. Hospitality sponsors can contribute to non profits in many ways by donating cash, space, equipment, coolers, tables, cups, tents, banners or advertising.

Media organizations love to sponsor beverage tents because people are captured in a defined area for a period of time. Offer sponsored tables within the beer garden. Let them provide games or interactive materials that add fun and keep people there!


  1. If you have: Government Support > Grants

Offer your street fair as a place for partners to host fundraisers. Their organization may be able to solicit grant funding that can pay for organizational or administrative support, paying for an experienced manager or volunteer coordinator. Check with the for grant opportunities, too.

Apply for economic development or arts grants from local Chamber of Commerce, city or state agencies. Make sure your goals match their needs and values. Don’t change the focus of your fair just to get a grant.

It’s easier to apply for grants after the second or third fair. Make notes of goals met and achievements each week during the planning process. Record attendee numbers, participating partners, stakeholders or sponsors.



About Bridget Bayer

Bridget Bayer is an author and community organizer working to create vibrant main street business districts that support local economies. Bridget believes shared activities are a catalyst for positive change. Her professional work fosters community involvement by creating shared events that enhance communication, develop shared interests and support existing and start-up non-profit organizations. At home, Bridget focuses on innovative ecological practices, hates waste and dependably finds ways to eliminate it. After 25 years in the restaurant industry, she still loves to cook especially with locally sourced veggies including those homegrown from her garden. Bridget, the first mate on Ama Natura, lives on a floating home on the Columbia River in Portland with Peter Wilcox, instigator of the Inside Passage Decarbonization Project, and the lovely Luna, her favorite cat.