Multicultural Fair Fundraisers

No matter where we live, it’s likely we know people from other countries, and of many ethnic origins. Still, we may not fully understand a neighbor’s culture or traditions. What better way to experience those things, and celebrate our unique origins than a multicultural fair fundraiser?

By putting together a multicultural fair, you can not only raise money for your cause, but promote cultural understanding and fellowship throughout your community, and celebrate the differences that make us all unique. Not only that, but fairs are just fun events that get a lot of participation, so they’re great fundraising methods for any type of charity or non-profit group, and make especially good school fundraisers.

Talk to your neighbors, friends, church congregation members, parents, and other members of your community to find out what cultures are represented. Ask those people with different cultural backgrounds if they’d be interested in helping put together the fair. Also find out whether there are any culturally focused clubs in your area. People often create clubs or organizations specific to their ethnic backgrounds, so they may be willing to help promote and participate in a multicultural fair.

The main things you’ll want to focus on are ethnic cuisine, arts and crafts, and traditional music and dance. Food booths will go over well at a fair, especially when they allow people to try new things they’ve never had before. Choose a handful of traditional dishes or foods that represent the different cultures, and are easily eaten while walking around a fair. For example, German sausages or Greek gyros don’t really require sitting down with forks. There are a few great ways to set up your multicultural fair fundraiser:

Cultural Pot Luck

If your fair is a smaller affair, forgo the fairground booths for a potluck dinner. Find a space with enough room, tables, and chairs, and ask people to bring their favorite ethnic dish to share with the group. Set up tables to hold the food, and it’s a good idea to ensure electric outlets are handy for crock pots. Attendees can bring the food while your group can supply the plates, utensils, napkins and cups. Don’t forget beverages! If there aren’t enough ethnic beverages contributed, have soda, juice and water on hand. Charge those in attendance either an entry fee, or a per plate fee. Extend the fundraising by collecting the recipes for all the foods contributed, and putting them together in a cookbook you can later sell to the community.

Traditional Storytelling Circle

Everyone loves to hear a good story, and in many cultures, television is still virtually unavailable. Instead, people use storytelling as a means of family entertainment. Many countries and cultures still maintain rich storytelling traditions, and those stories are a wonderful means to experience and learn from the culture firsthand. Multicultural storytelling at your fundraising fair can feature a professional storyteller for a larger performance, or for smaller audiences, participants can share stories of their home countries, or their ancestors and families. You can also find storytelling CDs at the local library or online, and play them at your multicultural fair as a group activity, or broadcast in the background for ambiance.

Music and Dance

It should be fairly easy to find multicultural music CDs at the local library. You can also ask members of the community to loan their personal CDs for the duration of the event. Playing all kinds of traditional music, in many different languages will add to the ambiance of the fair, and introduce people to new sounds.

Many cultures also have traditional dances. Ask community members if they’re willing to put on a show for those attending the fair. There may also be professional ethnic dance troupes in your city that may be willing to donate their time for your cause, or perhaps discount their usual fee. Try to get audience members involved. Taking part is twice as fun as just watching!

Arts and Crafts

Talk to local museums and libraries about displaying items from other cultures at your multicultural fair. They may welcome the opportunity to promote their own collections and programs. Also offer community members of different ethnicities if they would like to make any crafts they create available for sale at the fair. You can charge them a nominal fee for a booth or table to set up their wares, and then both your group and the artisans will benefit from the fair.