If you want to raise funds for a deserving cause, you might consider sponsoring an antique show. Numerous organizations and institutions have done this, successfully and profitably.
Each year more groups offer antique shows to benefit such worthy projects as schools, churches, museums, settlement houses, hospitals, scholarship funds, restoration projects, historical societies, and other charitable institutions.
In some cases, sponsoring groups gallantly run their own show, without benefit of outside paid management. In such cases, hard-working volunteer committees plan the show and locate exhibitors - staging, setting up, advertising, and running the event.
With or without outside-management help, a successful show requires a great deal of know-how and the combined efforts and personal drive of many dedicated people. There are no shortcuts, and a few shows have failed miserably because they lacked people with sufficient time and expertise to pull them together and put them across.
For those organizations that prefer to work with an outside show manager, two experts who now run many shows nationally are Russell Carrell of Salisbury, Conn., and Henry Coger of Dallas.
One of Mr. Carrell's larger shows is the East Side Settlement House's Annual Winter Antiques Show, which takes place each January at the 7th Regiment Armory in New York. All proceeds from the show, with the exception of exhibitors' sales , are for the benefit of East Side Settlement House.
This prestigious event, begun in 1955, has maintained the highest standards of taste and quality and demonstrates what able management, backed by a tireless and expert volunteer-committee, can produce. In its first year this show netted gala preview benefit party, sale of advertising and catalogs, and gate receipts.
A recent new show in Baltimore, managed by Mr. Carrell, netted about $100,000 to benefit the Baltimore Museum of Art and Johns Hopkins Hospital. His first show in San Francisco raised $93,000 for the Enterprise High School students program. Nov. 10-13, he will manage the Junior League show in Los Angeles, which will benefit league projects.
Other large shows managed by Mr. Carrell include the Cincinnati Antiques Festival, which benefits a convalescent hospital for children; the Philadelphia Antiques Show, which benefits University Hospital; a Lake Forest, Ill., show, which benefits the Lake Forest Academy; and Cleveland's Western Reserve Antique Show, which benefits a historical society.
June 25, his Ridgefield, Conn., outdoor flea market will benefit a local cat and dog shelter, while his outdoor Shaker antiques festival on Aug. 6 will help the Shaker Museum in Old Chatham, N.Y. His other small shows around New England this summer will benefit the Berkshire Garden Center ; Northfield Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Mass.; the Bedford, N.Y., Historical Society; and the Golden Ball Tavern in Weston, Mass. Even his smallest shows, he says, raise between $10,000 and $12,000 in charity benefits.
Mr. Carrell's advice to a group wanting to sponsor a fund-raising antique show is: ''It is hard work all the way. Be sure you have a chairman who has plenty of time, a love of antiques, and a good sense of organization - and that you have committees that know how to beat the drums for the show, plan advertising, and attract dealers, patrons, and customers.''
He reminds organizations that catalogs make less profit today than previously because of higher printing and production costs. He also warns that junk shows are not doing well at all. The most successful antique shows and flea markets, he says, are those that offer the most quality.
Down in the Sunbelt, show manager Henry Coger has worked with the volunteer members of the Dallas and Richardson Alumnae Chapters of Delta Delta Delta, a sorority, to build the eight-year-old annual spring Tri Delta Charity Antiques Show into one of the top shows in the country.
This show operates with a steering committee of 125 members that works all year on every aspect of the show, from catalog ad sales to public relations, special events, patrons, and manpower. But up to 900 sorority women serve in various capacities during the four-day run of the show, doing everything from selling tickets to providing lunch each day for the 70 dealers from all parts of the country.
As for the ingredients that make up a successful fund-raising show, Mr. Coger says they should include ''a very positive committee that is willing to hustle and work - and a good mix of fine dealers that offers a diversity of objects. I am very careful about not overloading a show with one particular kind of merchandise, and I am careful about how I place dealers on the floor. I try to keep a show balanced and pretty - and a lot of prices within affordable reach of a lot of people. I avoid a high and mighty approach because I think people want to come in and buy and not just look.''
Mr. Coger's next show, the Spalding Antiques Show in Denver, Aug. 26, 27, and 28, will benefit a rehabilition hospital. He is already working on 1984 shows in Dallas; New Orleans; Tulsa, Okla.; and Midland, Texas, to benefit other organizations, such as symphony orchestras and community theaters.
Both Mr. Coger and Mr. Carrell note that the growth of these for-charity shows in many parts of the country means that many areas are being exposed to a far broader range of fine antiques than ever before. Dealers are spending large sums to transport their wares to distant cities and to rent booths and hotel rooms for themselves. One Massachusetts dealer exhibiting at the Dallas show said it cost $5,000 to bring himself and his goods to the show. He said it was worth it, though, in increased sales and exposure to new customers in a growing part of the country.
''We find a very sophisticated clientele in Texas these days,'' the dealer commented, ''and so we bring to Dallas our finest pieces, including Early American, European, and Oriental.'' Many good dealers each year manage a far-flung circuit, which may begin at the Ellis Memorial Show in Boston and circle out to include New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, and the West Coast. The antique show sponsored to raise funds for a worthy cause has encouraged such extensive peregrinations, and the antique-show shopper stands to benefit.
Meanwhile, after a four-year hiatus, an international antique market of note, the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in London, reopened with fanfare on June 9 to run through June 18. Eighty-five leading British dealers provided a glittering array of goods, and the preview gala and ball was staged to benefit London's Westminster Hospital.