Organizing for Success

Secret Sauce?
Have fun!
Each lead manages one or more parts of the campaign.
Trello is a free and easy-to-use project management tool.

Key Concepts

A core team of 2 – 3 leaders/managers can lead your fair to success! This team will:

  • Liaise with important community stakeholders to gain support for the idea
  • Oversee event design
  • Monitor progress and resolve issues as needed
  • Set standards and review all materials for accuracy, quality and consistency
  • Liaise with the larger team of volunteers
  • Attend the fair, greet people at the entrance, circulate throughout the fair space and manage fair operations
  • Set the fair budget and manage expenses
  • Oversee follow-up, and document and publish results

Leaders may come from a variety of backgrounds. Most of all, they need to lead by example and know how to motivate others to get things done. Each leader should manage one or more distinct pieces of the event.

A clearly defined workplan and decision-making process helps everyone know what should be done when and by whom, helps avoid delays and frustration, and leads to a better event.

A high-level fair sponsor/funder can enhance the visibility of the event early on, and bring credibility to the fair as well as important funding.

TIME SAVER: You will save considerable time and effort by REUSING many elements in this Playbook.

Suggested Steps

Click on a section below for lots of great information and resources.

Leaders and volunteers may come from town staff, town committees, grassroots groups and/or non-profit(s). It’s very important to determine who will play the key roles in designing and delivering the Fair. One person may play more than one role. Click on Team Roles for more information.    

Team Roles

BEST PRACTICE:  In Agawam, two retired teachers (one from the energy committee) volunteered to lead the initiative in the schools. They were fantastic and helped pull together 16 exhibits. Retired teachers are perfect for this role. Put out the word that you want to put on a fair. You never know who will step up!

Agawam High School was a great venue

A local school is a great venue

Early on in the planning process, make decisions regarding the following:

  • Paid Staff or Volunteers, or a mix
  • Date of the Fair – The sooner you get your date on the books, the less likely there will be competing events. It’s best to allow about eight months for planning and execution. January to April seems to be a good time to engage communities.
  • The Venue – Look for a spacious location that will easily accommodate the crowd, exhibits and other parts of the Fair. Schools are a great choice and school administrators may waive rental fees.
  • Target Audience – It’s important to attract members of the community who are new to saving energy, as well as those who already are saving energy.

BEST PRACTICE: In Concord, we focused on parents of school-aged children, who are often too busy to think about their carbon footprints. Bundling energy conservation with a fun and educational family event was a good way to get harried parents to focus on saving energy.

  • Focus of the Fair – Cooler Community Fairs focus first and foremost on getting residents to take ACTION to save energy, and measuring the CO2 impact of pledged actions. This focus goes beyond the typical “Earth Day” event, although both types of events may include the arts, product vendors and political organizations.
  • Whether or not to have a Steering Committee – A Steering Committee can help build credibility, guide the event and gather resources (e.g., volunteers, funding, equipment, space). Just make sure that you can move quickly without lengthy decision-making.

BEST PRACTICE: In Agawam, a volunteer from the Energy Commission and the Assistant Superintendent of Schools created a Steering Committee (as requested by the Mayor) which included teachers and members of Town staff. Powerful synergy!

  • Scope of the Fair – Which exhibits? Speakers? The scope can be expanded or pared down depending on the goals and needs of your community. What is important is that you are focused on enough key actions to get meaningful CO2 reduction results. This makes all of your efforts worthwhile!
Results of Cooler Concord Fair

Results of the Cooler Concord Fair

How will you define success? Answering this question early in the planning process will help you focus and plan your efforts.

Some important measures of success to consider include the following:

  • Total attendance
  • All schools in your community participating
  • Attendance by school
  • Total carbon points gathered from actions chosen at the Fair
  • Overall satisfaction of attendees
  • Attendees have a better understanding of how they can reduce their CO2 emissions

Your community might also define success in other ways, such as the following:

  • The student experience, as measured by a short post-event survey with questions such as: Do you feel more empowered to protect the environment? Are your parents more likely to conserve energy? Are you?
  • The quality of the Action Exhibits
  • The number and quality of student exhibits

Be sure to set specific goals for attendance and CO2 reduction so the community has something to work toward and celebrate. And plan how you will measure each goal because a goal without measurement is just a wish!

BEST PRACTICE: In Concord, we set the following goals: 1,000 participants (7% of the community), 20% of families attending from each of 6 public schools, 1 million carbon points gathered from commitments to actions, and a high satisfaction rating from attendees measured via a post-event survey.

Detailed Workplan

Detailed Workplan

BEST PRACTICE We recommend that you allocate 6 – 8 months to develop your fair. This is mostly to accommodate the school schedule (access to teachers, administrators, and students is generally limited to October to May) and to make it easier for volunteers. What is important is that you think through your process and set an achievable plan.

Workplan from Berkshires TIME SAVER

Detailed Workplan

Budget and Fund-Raising Strategy

Budget and Fund-Raising Strategy

Standard line items in the budget include facilities and equipment, marketing, food, and school incentives. 

Funding sources include town budgets, vendor fees, sponsorships, and foundation grants. Also, considerable costs can be saved with free use of town facilities and equipment, and printing services.

Grant options
Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation
Dependent on the combined involvement of the town and school district, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation is offering up to $8000 for towns/year in the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires. For additional information, contact

The New England Grassroots Environmental Fund offers small grants for events.

“We wanted this event to be more than just a feel-good fair, so we needed a way to measure results. In most cases, a shared Google Spread Sheet or Google Forms have proven themselves to be all that is needed. Some districts, and the Cooler Communities team, employ an easy-to-use Application (Mobil phone, Tablet, Computer). It measures the impact of energy-saving pledges made by participants at the fair. Each action has an associated annual reduction in CO2. Check it out. Many fair attendees think it is fun to use.

– Team Leader

Using the Carbon Saver

  • Familiarize your team with your pledging tool
  • Insert a logo and introductory text for your community
  • Develop a strategy and incentives for getting participants to use the pledging tool
  • Determine the carbon reduction points pledged at the fair
  • Determine the carbon reduction points realized by the actions taken within the year following the fair
  • Share the report with stakeholders


Cooler Communities: Berkshires

Cooler Communities: Berkshires

A web hub explaining key ways to save energy and detailing current rebates is available to all Cooler Communities. There are two versions of the site:

  1., for towns with municipally owned light plants, and
  2. for towns with an investor-owned utility and associated rebates for energy efficiency

It is recommended that the website be reviewed and adapted by new communities.To do so:

  • Make a copy of one of the two websites. You’ll need someone with expertise in Word Press to help.
  • Customize the logo and introductory text.
  • Adapt the content as needed, which should involve minimal changes.
  • Insert specific instructions