CAFE Designation Program

The purpose of this program is to provide Canadian fair and exhibition organizations with education, tools and resources to reach their full potential. Individuals will develop a credible foundation of knowledge, skills and abilities essential to perform all components of running a fair or exhibition organization. This is a voluntary designation program where those who meet established standards will be recognized.

Program delivery & Structure

The program is based on flexible learning schedules. Participants must complete each module’s readings and activities within a two-week timeframe but can do so whenever they can during those two weeks because there are no synchronous components. The content is primarily text-based to be accessible by the entire industry and driven to accommodate rural and remote areas. There are six, 8-week courses that participants will be required to complete. The courses that are mandatory to take are:

  • 100: Running your organization

This course is the first step of your learning experience and will provide a broad infrastructure to support you as you run or assist in running your organization. It will help you approach your role (whatever that may be) with a systematic view of challenges and opportunities. This course is intended to broaden your perspective on the impact of a solid foundation.

  • 200: Engagement

CAFE 200 outlines the many different avenues through which your organization can engage new audiences. You will learn to approach your organization’s varied relationships in the most beneficial ways and to understand the unique needs of key audiences you hope to engage with. this course is intended to emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusion while broadening your perspective on the impact of people, the value of communication and the importance of community.

  • 300: Supporting diversification

This course encourages students to explore what is possible for their organization by embracing change and striving for innovation. It explores how an organization can expand its vision using various tools including a variety of business and organizational models, risk assessments to evaluate the challenges facing the organization, and surveys to help better design events for visitors. Finally, CAFE 300 will go over the importance of research and benchmarking to not only understand sector trends but also to help systematically evaluate and measure success.

  • 400: Financial management practices

This course will cover the most important aspects of financial management practices from bookkeeping basics to financial decision-making using budgets and forecasts. Going above and beyond the basics of financial management, students will also finish the course with an excellent understanding of the crucial skills needed for grant writing, forming partnerships, attracting sponsors, and fundraising.

  • 500: Leadership and governance

The fifth course in the designation program focuses on the leadership of an organization from the basics of understanding governance through to the many different roles and leadership structures that apply to organizations. This course will also delve into the details of protocols and practices for efficient meetings and the importance of oversight, due diligence and liability as well as how to plan and develop an organization's board. Students will also leave this course with a concrete understanding of governance documents and procedures to help formalize the leadership structure that works best for them.

  • 600: Event planning

The final course in this program is about the ins and outs of planning a successful event. This course will look at the broad categories of community event planning and event design before getting into the details of project management (including several crucial tools) as well as the importance of understanding logistics and thorough planning methods. Students will also gain insight into tips and tricks when it comes to customer service before finally ending the course with a reminder of the value of continuous improvement through innovation and evolution.

  • Capstone

Welcome to the final component of the CAFE Designation Program. In this section, you will apply the strategies and learnings from the previous courses to do a deep dive on a specific topic of your choice. Upon selecting a topic, you will then put together a report that touches on as many of the learning outcomes as possible to improve the selected topic for an organization of your choice.

You may choose to use your organization, another organization, or a hypothetical organization.

In each week of the program, participants will be required to complete readings (including at least one chapter from the newly designed Canadian Fair & Exhibition Organization Management Book), participate in two discussion groups, share a minimum of one best practice related to the learning outcomes and complete a multiple-choice quiz.

Multiple weeks are also entirely dedicated to completing assignments. To be awarded full participation points, you must participate in each discussion group by not only providing your comment but also by commenting on two of your colleagues’ posts in each discussion. Participation is a key component of evaluation to enhance the learning experience.

There is also a short mid-term assignment as well as a final assignment. No course material, discussion forums, or quizzes will be required the week these assignments are due. We encourage participants to use the assignment as an exercise for their organization to maximize the value of the assignment. Finally, there is a capstone project after all courses have been completed. Courses will be offered twice a year, commencing the first week of October and the first week of February. Students have a maximum of five (5) years to complete all courses to receive their designation.