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Fundraising ideas?

Printed From: Community Theater Green Room
Category: Theater Administration
Forum Name: Money Talk
Forum Discription: Questions about fundraising and promotion
Printed Date: 10/04/23 at 1:45am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 8.05 -

Topic: Fundraising ideas?
Posted By: breccad
Subject: Fundraising ideas?
Date Posted: 11/08/05 at 5:45pm
Hello everyone! I stumbled upon this board while doing some research
on fundraising. I have a new theater company in LA, and we just finished
our 3rd production in our first 8 months of existance. We were lucky
enough to get a seed grant to start off, but now we need to do some
major fundraising.

We're having a big brainstorming meeting soon, but I'm curious as to
what other companies have tried that have been successfull or what have
you tried that has been a disaster?

Thanks so much and feel free to contact me here or off list.


Posted By: k8tt
Date Posted: 11/10/05 at 8:37am

Our latest disaster was hiring an incompetent General Manager to get butts in the seats.  She bluffed her way through the interview and no one checked her references as we were in awe of her interview 'performance'.  We lost money on our last performance as she didn't follow the media release agenda and we didn't even have a third of a house the first two nights.  The Board had to take up the slack and do a 2 for 1 coupon for the second weekend to entice patrons.

We had volunteers beat the bushes for sponsors (they did a fantastic job going business to business in our small community).  We have been unsucessful with government grants so go from show to show hoping for enough sponsors to take us through. 

In LA there must be tons of businesses that would like to support live theatre.  Do you have a Sponsorship committee on your Board of Directors?  Even just one season sponsor who will donate a large amount will make it easier.  Are you a non-profit?  That helps too.

Put together a sponsor 'package' (outlining what the sponsor will get for their donation - like 2 free tickets, a sign in the lobby or in the program) and have some outgoing volunteers tackle the local businesses.  Don't overlook the smaller businesses as they can contribute $50 for a business card in the program.

Good luck! 

Posted By: Tallsor
Date Posted: 11/10/05 at 10:19am

The thing about any fundraising plan (and marketing plan) is to not expect 'immediate' results. In other words, any good fundraising/marketing plan is something gradual - as those people will more likely stick around as opposed to 'overnight' ticket sales.

Look to your local colleges (especially community colleges) and work out deals with their theatre departments. College students are poor, but if you get them to like your shows now, if they stick around the area, they're more likely to be audience members when they have the money. The college I volunteer with has just started a 'buy one, get one free' coupon deal sent out to the other colleges in the area, and we are tracking to see how successful it is.

You might also want to see about partnering with arts councils or other art organizations for a 'ticket combo' (i.e., ballet and the theatre) or a ticket package, and cross promoting the programs.

A good book to read is "Don't Just Applaud - Send Money!" by Alvin H. Reiss.

I know this isn't specifically what you wanted, but hopefully it still helps.

Posted By: neale
Date Posted: 4/05/06 at 10:44pm
Our CT is about to start into a fund raising situation as well.  I am interested in the seed grant you got.  Can you give me any details?


Posted By: Redbeard
Date Posted: 4/12/06 at 12:02am
Our CT found the best fundraiser was to do what we did best--theatre. We sell our "final dress rehearsal" at a reasonable rate to an outside group. Usually these are small non-profits who in turn sell tickets to raise money themselves. Often these groups get a sponsor to cover the cost so they can't lose any money. Not only does the theatre raise money, but we reach audience members we might not otherwise see.

Posted By: jcorkran
Date Posted: 4/13/06 at 9:49am
What we have done in past seasons (but not this year) is to get a business to sponsor a specific show.  We usually get $1500 for a non-musical and $2000 for a musical, which really isn't enough.  In any case, we offer the sponsor one performance just for their employees or friends or whoever they want to give the tickets to.  Spmetimes this worked well, sometimes it did not.  The hard part is beating the bushes to get the sponsors in the first place.

Posted By: stephane.riopel
Date Posted: 7/30/06 at 3:46pm
If you have costumes, props or sets, you could rent them.
It's a bit of a long term solution, meaning that it takes some time to setup everything, and build a customer base but it can be worth it in the long run.

Of course, it depends on you costume, props or sets catalog, but it can work.

Most of the people I know who do it are in figure skating clubs, but it still brings them almost 10 000$ a year. It's especially interesting if you are a non for profit organization.

Just my two cents.

St?phane Riopel
Ar-Byte Software

Posted By: RichardTYoung
Date Posted: 11/01/06 at 12:31am
We send out a spring fund raising letter to about 300 people and it usually nets around 6 grand.  The real key in our letter is humor.  We make it funny, very funny. The funnier the better. As an example, one year we used blatant subliminal suggestions in the letter putting bold requests for money in very small print through out the letter.  Frequently we'll use a $ in$tead of an "S" in the whole letter. One year we sent an anti-fundraising letter encouraging everyone not to send money. Of course they sent a lot anyway.  Make it fun.  People get hit up for all kinds of stuff and most of it is a serious appeal.  Keep em laughing and bring in $ome buck$.  

Live well, be safe
Richard T. Young

Posted By: jenniz
Date Posted: 11/16/06 at 10:50am

We once auctioned off our cast in full costume to wait on a dinner party.  We even had soloists and minstrels for entertainment.  It was a huge success and we would do it more often but the pressing demands of our students' agendas has not allowed us a reprise of the event.

 "Best seat in the house" is something we are looking into.  It can be organized a variety of ways (ie-draw, silent auction etc).  Provided is a small couch in the front row and some wine (or juice if the lucky winner is a minor) served at intermission by one of our actors.


Posted By: terrys
Date Posted: 1/12/07 at 7:52am
We're a Community Theatre Company beginning our 5th year.  We do 2 large musicals, several small shows and a Cabaret each year.  We've tried many ways to raise money.  Our big musicals barely break even.  We ran a Producers' Campaign with levels of donations that raised about $3,800.  We've done a promotion with a local department store (Macys) that had us "selling" discount coupons for a set sale date for $5 each and we kept the money raised.  Most recently we stage a "Disney Review" using younger performers (ages 14 - 27).  They did most of the choreography, staging, etc.  We handled tickets and concessions.  Keeping costs for things like magic wands, crowns, pirate bandanas, etc. down (between $1 and $4) and selling pizza and hot dogs between Saturday afternoon (3:30) and Saturday evening (7 pm) performances, we netted $2,300.  Not bad for a weekend show. 
Sorry for rambling.  Let me know if you want more details.

Posted By: terrys
Date Posted: 1/17/07 at 7:11am
I love the "Best Seat in the House" idea.  I'm going to try a version of that for our Fall Production.
Thanks for sharing.
Collingswood Community Theatre

Posted By: bhctexec
Date Posted: 4/25/07 at 4:30pm
Richard Young,
I just came across this site doing a search for fundraising ideas.  One of the things our board just approved was sending out a second letter to our past donors.  I liked your idea of the humorous approach, but I am fresh out of ideas.  I know I am asking alot, but is there anyway you would be willing to pass along samples of your letters?  Time is short and new  ideas are even shorter.  If this isn't stepping to far over the line, you could send samples to -
Thanks.  This is a great site.

Posted By: Nanette
Date Posted: 8/17/07 at 7:17am
We just finished our first big fund raising event and it was really successful.  At our town's annual "event" (parade, music, food, etc.) we had a silent auction booth.  The items were donated locally from business and families of the kids in the theatre ... we had everything from birthday baskets, alteration services, and pizza certificates to babysitting, housecleaning, and "I'll take you out for dinner".  All we had to do was set up a tent and encourage people to come in and bid.  We ended up making over $1000 in less than 8 hours.
We've also done the "Best Seat in the House" which went over really well.  We'll be doing that again this year.
Our next fund raiser is "flocking".  I'll update everyone on how well this one comes out.

In a world of margarine, be butter!

Posted By: JohnnyOneNote
Date Posted: 8/26/07 at 7:42am
We just finished a fundraiser yesterday -
Breakfast With The Cast Of GREASE!
The local Applebee's sponsored the benefit from 7am to 11am.
We set up a small sound system and all the cast was there in costume and waited on the tables. There was one plate. Scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes. Plus juice, coffee and tea.
We pre-sold tickets for $5 each (should have been $10 but oh well)
and had about 30 available at the door for stragglers. :)
We also had a raffle and had sponsors for items, such as a two night stay for two at the Hilton Hot tub Room, A Dinner for two at a very swanky country club, Bottles of fine wine, Dinner at Applebees (of course), plus a Pink Ladies Jacket and a Leather Jacket autographed by the cast and tickets to the show.
If someone wanted to hear a song from the show, we asked that they would tip the DJ (Vince Fontaine of course)
We also invited a local Classic Car group to come and had about 15 - 40 to 50's cars in the parking lot.
And sold rides for a dollar in 'GREASED LIGHTENING" a Red 1957 Chevy.
Most paid more than a dollar so they could ride longer. :)
It was a fantastic fundraiser! Our cost for food (which we paid Applebees) was $280 the Pink Ladies jacket and Leather jacket were $50 bucks each
Selling the raffle tickets for $5 or 5 for $50 we raised over $1200
With tips from the DJ and the tables we made over $500
Ticket sales (sold out 300 tickets) was $1500
Total made througout the day was over $3500
PLUS we sold Memberships to our season and sold over 20 of those!
It was easy to set up, and easy to do and was a great time, the cast and crew had a fantastic time! And we gained a lot of support from the community.

Posted By: Gaafa
Date Posted: 8/27/07 at 1:25am
Bewdy JonO that's great stuff, using what your all about to turn a cion.
Star Star Star Star Star

Western Gondawandaland
turn right @ Perth.
Hear the light & see the sound.
Toi Toi Toi Chookas {{"chook [chicken] it is"}
May you always play
to a full house}

Posted By: TotoToo Theatre
Date Posted: 8/31/07 at 12:22pm
Last weekend our theatre group (TotoToo Theatre) organized a unique fundraiser with the help of our local media (Capital Xtra).  They have been highly supportive of our group so we asked them to use their cover as a "mock" event cover for our fundraiser at last weekend's Pride Festival. 

We took photos of partiers and printed them on an 8x10 "mock cover" of our community newspaper for a $15 donation.  Photos were shown and printed on site so visitors could go home with a great memento of the day's events.   Very successful!  (The cover also "happened to" promoted our next production - Jigsaw Confession.)

This is a sample of one of the "mock covers" we sold.  Everyone was thrilled with the fundraiser from the event organizers, the newspaper and the theatre group.  Pictures cost us $3 to print and the photographer volunteered the time and equipment.


Mark Webster - TotoToo
Ottawa's Gay & Lesbian Community Theatre

Posted By: TotoToo Theatre
Date Posted: 8/31/07 at 12:38pm
Hi Jenn,

After reading your "Best Seat in the House" idea I sent out a note to our theatre board.  You got the wheels turning here!  What a brilliant idea!

Mark Webster - TotoToo
Ottawa's Gay & Lesbian Community Theatre

Posted By: Nanette
Date Posted: 9/01/07 at 12:34am
We had our first "flocking" tonight at 10pm (scared the b'Jesus out of their 13-year old home alone w/ a friend) ... we got a call from the victim at 11:10pm (Please call the Flamingo Rescue Hotline ... ) for a deflocking.  Also got a new target, AND I think they're purchasing insurance.  Let's see .... $15 for removal and naming the next target + $25 for insurance = $40 for 5 minutes worth of  (FUN) work.  Not bad!

In a world of margarine, be butter!

Posted By: Theatrestation
Date Posted: 9/01/07 at 1:20am
Originally posted by Nanette

We had our first "flocking" tonight at 10pm (scared the b'Jesus out of their 13-year old home alone w/ a friend) ... we got a call from the victim at 11:10pm (Please call the Flamingo Rescue Hotline ... ) for a deflocking.  Also got a new target, AND I think they're purchasing insurance.  Let's see .... $15 for removal and naming the next target + $25 for insurance = $40 for 5 minutes worth of  (FUN) work.  Not bad!
Most people in our attendance area don't have the money to spend on a night out at the theatre let alone for something like this.  


Posted By: Nanette
Date Posted: 9/01/07 at 7:55am
We've planned for that, too.  At the bottom we have directions for free removal if they're not able or willing to participate.
Since our program is for the area kids, we don't seem to have a lot of problem with the townspeople taking part in fund raising events of this sort.

In a world of margarine, be butter!

Posted By: bbpchick
Date Posted: 9/22/07 at 4:12am
During our spring production, one of our actors missed his Senior Prom to be in the play.  So we threw him one at the theater.  We had the photographer who does the highschool proms come and take pictures, I made a ton of cd's with all kinds of music, and we had decorations, and refreshments...basically everything that makes a senior prom.  Everyone came all dressed up and we just danced and had a blast all night long.  As the community found out about what we did for our member we have gotten a lot of questions about doing another one.  Many people either missed their senior prom, or had a horrible time, so here is a chance to make up for it Tongue.  We are planning it as an adult party so we will serve wine and beer (prolly sell it) as well as non alchaholic drinks. And we where thinking $25 per ticket.  If we get the same deal with the photographer as last time, we won't have to pay him.  He said if we provide the backdrop, we only have to sell 10 packages and that will cover his time.   We also made favors which I think only cost us about 6 bucks per favor and they came out really nice.   If the community really goes for this, I think we can make a fair amount of money.  I'll let you guys know how it goes.
Here is a link to my photobucket with pictures from the prom.  If you want to see how we set it up. -
Oh and the pictures of us, we were being as silly as possible for the camera (what do you exptect? We are actors *grin*)

Kendra -
You are NEVER too old to dress up!

Posted By: Gaafa
Date Posted: 9/22/07 at 6:48am
Chookas Kendra!
You might have grown a money tree there.
Great pic of the 'house rag & floats'. ideal for your music halls!
Might be a good money spinner, with no Rights fees to pay!
I assume it would work here. except with us old fogeys. who only got a cuppa char, a jam buttey & a smoke, when they graduated. In most cases they only recieved the scroll delivered by the Postee.
But my kids & Grandies went to the full thing, so there would be a few of them about!
If you don't mind I'll put to our mob & see what happens?Thumbs%20Up

Western Gondawandaland
turn right @ Perth.
Hear the light & see the sound.
Toi Toi Toi Chookas {{"chook [chicken] it is"}
May you always play
to a full house}

Posted By: bbpchick
Date Posted: 9/23/07 at 11:59pm
I don't mind at all.  Let me know how it goes for you Smile.  I have my fingers crossed for mine.  Just had our board meeting and we decided that we are going to do it in May.  We also need all new seats, so we are going hold an adopt a seat program starting in January.  So hopefully we'll get new seats by the end of next year. *crosses fingers*

Kendra -
You are NEVER too old to dress up!

Posted By: vickifrank
Date Posted: 10/18/07 at 10:39pm
I'm VP of a local children's charity that covers 5 counties.  I'm in charge of the fundraising (surprised the heck out of me when they put me in charge of that!  I'm an engineer, for heaven's sake!).  I have a small piece of advice to anyone raising money for anything--start by brainstorming who is interested in seeing you succeed.  You might be surprised at how many stakeholders there are.  Once you find the people who are interested, then set about the simple task of making them love you.  That starts with them knowing you are there, proceeds to letting them know you as an organization, builds to them trusting you and ends up with them loving you.  Each step along the way can be accompanied by more cash.  You don't need to ask all the time, just really give them a reason to love you.
I loved the funny request with the subliminal clues listed above.  That's great, and a wonderful way to let the people get to know the flavor of your organization and start to like you.  In advertising, they call that 'branding'.

Posted By: gaftpres
Date Posted: 11/15/07 at 12:52pm
What great ideas from all of you. I will bring them up at our next board meeting.
We have 3 major fundraisers per year. THe first if our Golf Outing; $50.00 per team of 4, we gather donated prizes from local business and golf courses, We provide a luncheon after the golf outing and give away prizes. We also do individual hole fundraisers, closest to the pin, lowest score and the coveted title of "most ball lost in the water". We normally make 2,000-3,000 $ from this fundraiser.
2nd we have a Swiss Steak Dinner, as a non-profit, we get the hall use donated, we purchase the swiss steak, but get all the other food donated. We send letters to our membership for $ donations to help defer the costs.
This fundraiser makes $1000 approximately.
#rd we have our Pampered Chef fundraiser, as a fundraiser you receive 15% of the sales. We also have our very special guest (for comedic value) to entertain us, she is Pammy the Pampered Chef. Of course it is one of our funniest actresses and she makes the party hilarious. So they are entertained and can order items to use or give as gifts. We hold this in November and advertise it as an easy way to begin Christmas shopping.
Our advertisers in our programs is a great way to defer the costs of programs for our shows.
We are looking at have a Casino night or a Poker tournament to raise money, but haven't decided if that is one we want to tackle. There isn't enough days in the year to do all of the fundraisers and shows.
Applying for grants is a way to get money, we have initiated a Youth Program with grant money. It has helped make our theatre grow in depth with new actors, unfortunately it seems that now all the parents want to do is drop them off and pick them up. It used to be a family involvement and with some it is, but with most its a babysitting opportunity. unfortunate for the theatre and the kids.

Old volunteers never die, they just get recycled!

Posted By: John Luzaich
Date Posted: 2/26/08 at 5:13pm
There is a great book published by TCG (Theatre Communications Group). the author is Alvin H. Reiss.  It's titled "Don't Just Applaud, Send Money!"
It is the most successful strategies for funding and marketing the arts.  It's basically a compilation of some of the best ideas and practices that different arts organizations have used as marketing tools, gimmiks, strategies, and some off the wall ideas.  Some of the organizations are dance companies, orchestras, theatres, and other cultural institutions, but you can see how different ideas might work for you.  No, we don't have any vested interest in the book or know the author.  It just helped us out with some creative ideas we hadn't thought of before.  One of my favorite was the "Ten lousy bucks letter".
Anyway, check it out on line.  Just google it.


Posted By: avecsoul
Date Posted: 3/03/08 at 9:56pm
Hi Richard!
We are a small community theatre that has seen its "hey day" and recently been through quite a bit of drama, poor quality shows etc.  We
currently have new people on the board more focused on QUALITY
productions and are currently doing Annie Get Your Gun.  We need
fund raising ideas.  Would you be willing to provide us with some of
your funny fundraising letters?  It would be greatly appreciated.

Posted By: John Luzaich
Date Posted: 3/04/08 at 10:28am

avecsoul, are you asking about the "Ten Lousy Bucks" letter?


I'd be glad to share it with you if that's what you are asking about.  Our problem is that we were doing only one "ask" per year.  I mean, we were doing other kinds of things to raise funds, but we only sent one letter per year.  We did some benchmarking with other community theatres and arts organizations in the Midwest and found out they averaged two per year.  Some were doing three but we thought we'd try two and see how it worked out.  We raised over $4,000. the first year and about $8,000. the second year in a community of about 30,000 people.  Our main fund drive for individuals is about six months apart and that raises around $22- 24,000.  that's not business or corporate or sponsors, co-sponsors, that's just from individual annual donors.  The additional "ask" really helped out this last couple of years.  We've done other things like raffle tickets, auctions, etc.  This year we're trying a golf tourney patterned after the Ryder Cup and we're calling it the Directors Cup.  It's a combination scramble, best ball and alternate stroke - just like the real ryder cup.

Let me know if you're interested in the "Ten Lousy Bucks" letter.  We got it from the "Don't Just APPLAUD, Send Money" book by Alvin Reiss. (the letter itself came from a small theatre company in New York).


Posted By: avecsoul
Date Posted: 3/04/08 at 10:36am


I'm interested in the letter.  I have to say that I don't quite understand exactly what you are talking about with all of your fundraisers but I am interested in all of your ideas.  I plan to also order the book you mentioned.  Can you email me at - ? 

Posted By: John Luzaich
Date Posted: 3/04/08 at 11:05am
(this was the letter sent to our mailing list - it's not perfect, but it worked for us.  You could change it or tailor to fit your needs.  Also, our APPLAUD members referred to are our annual individual donors and contributors).
Oster Regent Theatre
Home of The Ceder Falls Community Theatre

Please send us Ten Lousy Bucks!

         If you took out ten lousy bucks right now and sent it in the enclosed envelope, by next week you probably wouldn't even miss it or notice it was gone.  Please don't send $105. or $275., like many people do when they become APPLAUD members.  We're just asking for
Ten Lousy Bucks.

         Help me out.  I've been making so many mistakes that we have to order an extra case of "white out" to cover my errors.  Do you know how much a case of white out costs?  Also, we have plenty of pencils, but I'm using up all of the erasers on the ends, so we have to get extra erasers.......a whole bunch of extra erasers.  Sometimes I'm outside greeting theatre patrons and holding the door open for them when they enter the lobby.  Do you know how cold and windy it's been?  Hairspray is not cheap!  (hey, it is work related).

         In all seriousness, with costs rising in advertising, utilities, insurance and other factors to operate a large building like the Oster Regent, things are always tight in a business like ours.  Remember, we are a non-profit organization, a 501 (c) (3).  With us, every penny counts, that's why we are asking for just Ten Lousy Bucks.  

         We are also doing our part to be a good neighbor with our other local business owners and managers.  We have season ticket holders from forty-three different cities.  We have others come to see shows from an hour and a half radius on a regular basis and from three or four hours away on occasion.  Quite frankly, we know it has some positive residual effect with many of our neighbors.  When we do well, our business neighbors do well.

         So, if you could see your way clear to sending just Ten Lousy Bucks (or, we wouldn't mind if you covered for someone else that won't respond to this letter) I would greatly appreciate it.  I thank you for your time and consideration.  I'll also thank you when I see you....I have a long memory.

John C. Luzaich
General Manager -

(I'll tell you we only had one person complain about the letter.  It was a donor that contributed about $7,500. during the year.  We had a good discussion with her.  in fact, she is now on our board)


Posted By: John Luzaich
Date Posted: 3/04/08 at 11:51am
Wow, so much to cover in marketing.........
We send press releases to 32 different newspapers.  Some are weekly, some daily.  We send P.S.A.'s to 16 radio stations.  (newspapers and radio are in an hour radius of us - go beyond what you think your reach is)Wev'e grown our mailing list from 3000 addresses to 6500 addresses.  We've grown our e-mail list to 1050 e-mail addresses (still a lot of room to grow here).  We've been very creative in the print ads we develop (although we don't spend much money).  We've done many, many trade deals.  (I have an ad in your playbill, you have an ad in mine) with many theatres, university/college programs, professional theatres, radio spot trades, TV spot trades.
develop a facebook page
sign up on twitter
ITUNES - build songs of upcoming shows and publish the link
sign up for Google alerts (alerts you anytime someone is checking you out)
text message (we don't do this yet, but some larger venues started this)
send an e-mail blast on a monthly basis and change it up (we used to do it the old fashioned way but are now going to Constant Contact - google them)
read the book "Don't Just APPLAUD, Send Money"
read the book "Web Sites for Culture" by Eugene Carr
read the book "Arts Marketing Insights" by Joanne Scheff Bernstein (she interviewed large and small venues all around the country and compiled the info)
read the book "How To Run a Theater" by Jim Volz (one of America's leading theater consultants - this is a must read)
do podcasts (we don't do this yet, but many larger venues and symphonies are)
display at off-site places (shopping mall windows/kiosks, art fairs)
Take a re-look at your web site and update it... we just did!  We found out if it's not up to date, people won't come back to it. - (in 6 months we've had 6,871 visits and 70,965 page views)
Word of mouth is very important, you do have some control of that - figure out who influencial people are and get them to your shows.
Who's going to replace the season ticket holders and older folks as they age out of our system?  We need the middle group of age range and younger people.  In that sense......
Find out which young people in your area do blogs e-mails, facebook, twitter and are influencial with their peers and invite them to your show, or get them to your invitational dress/preview.  They're the ones that will be all over the internet telling their friends that they need to go see your show!


Posted By: Nanette
Date Posted: 3/13/08 at 11:02am
We are gearing up (or is it down?) for the upcoming summer and have been brainstorming ideas for fund raisers.  The troupe wants to do something during our annual city event.  Think "all out street fair" ... beer, parade, beer, food, a few games, beer ... you get the picture.  They're thinking "dunk tank".  Anyone ever do this before as a fund raiser?  How much profit can we expect?  They've also considered selling something w/ our logo.  Any ideas of that?  Any other ideas?  (Note:  This would be run by the children in the troupe so we can't sell beer.  And there are already a lot of food vendors.)

In a world of margarine, be butter!

Posted By: John Luzaich
Date Posted: 3/13/08 at 11:47am
I was part of a "dunk tank" event at a annual company party in Minnesota.  I don't know what it cost to rent so check it out if you can find one in your area.  What I do know is that it's colder than HE_ _.  The water used to fill them up is always cold.  (who has a big enough hot water tank to fill it with warm water, especially on site outside somewhere).  Plus, as water splashes out of the tank during the day, you need to refill it... again, with cold water!  So, my first suggestion is:
(1) PLACEMENT & TIME.  Be sure to run the activity in the afternoon to give the water time to warm up a bit. (as opposed to 8 or 9 in the morning.  Also, place it where the sun can get to it to help it warm up.  I'm not kidding about this when I say cold.  People that are in the tank are just constantly shivering and they don't want to sit outside on the seat of the thing in the wind after they get out of that cold water.
(2) Get some "local celebrities" to sit in the dunk tank.  People would love to throw a ball to have a chance to dunk the mayor, city council member, superintendant, etc.  Find some local celebrities and then use that ahead of time in your press release or advertising.
(3) Don't make the ticket price or throwing chance too cheap or you won't raise much money.  You don't want to be there all day and only raise $20 bucks.
(4) the person in the dunk tank has to lean forward and sit on the end of the seat/platform.  Otherwise, when the target is hit and the seat drops down to drop the person in the water, that person hits or scrapes their back on the seat a lot and it hurts!  Sit on the end of it and lean forward.
Have fun and have a "hawker" out front like in a carnival trying to get people to come in to participate.


Posted By: JoeMc
Date Posted: 3/14/08 at 1:55am
Following on frpm John - think about the health, safety & insurance issues. Also how healthy the water is & the need to have it conditioned &/or filtered, before it gets up thier nose!

[western] Gondawandaland
"Hear the light & see the sound!
{may you always play to a full house!}

Posted By: avgsuperheroine
Date Posted: 6/04/08 at 10:04pm
We do have a year round costume shop, packed to the gills and started selling items too old or delicate to use on online auctions.  Since we have a staff, I spend several weeks a year working on them whenever I have time, and we've been able to raise over $5000 extra dollars per year doing that. 

Posted By: sonshine
Date Posted: 8/25/08 at 12:16pm
Can you post a sample of your fundraising letter? I can't fund one on the internet.

Posted By: joanna
Date Posted: 8/27/08 at 1:02pm
a question- we are about to send out a sponsorship letter- we have about 800 addresses- do you think we need to get more addresses to really make a proffit?  It'll cost about 400$ to send them out....

Posted By: John Luzaich
Date Posted: 4/20/09 at 5:08pm
In addition to many good ideas that have been seen in here, like golf tourneys and auctions, etc. .... pick up the book "Don't just Applaud, Send Money" by Alvin H. Reiss.  It has tons of ideas that the author compiled from different arts organizations, large and small, from all around the country.  Some might apply to your situation, some might not, but it's definitely worth buying and having around.  We borrowed the "$10. lousy bucks letter" from that book.
John -


Posted By: ArtDiffJunkie
Date Posted: 6/06/09 at 1:45pm
I work for a theatre company in sacramento and we do a lot of "edgy" type shows. Things like HAiR, Tommy, bare, Assassins....basically not childrens theatre. Does anyone have ideas about fundraising for a theatre that doesn't have a big parent base to donate money? How do we go about talking to local business? Who should we talk to/avoid? Thanks for the advice from anyone!

Some things that we have done/are doing:
for bare: we had a pretty insane amount of publicity for this show just based of the posters...if you have eyecatching photos that people will recognize and then plaster it everywhere (around town, myspace, facebook) everyone will know about it.
This was us on the cover of a local GLBT publication in Sacramento - - Full Image

also to raise money and have low overhead we are doing a series of one night only concerts of Tommy, and a revival of HAiR and bare. You only have to pay for rights for one night and the band, but not worry about sets, costumes, and all that. We just finished Tommy on memorial day and we had 530 people in attendance...i think that is amazing for a small company that has only been in the community for about 2-3 years. We did a lot of grassroots type advertising and also did a type of staging like they have of that video in the train station where everyone starts dancing. We did it at our Sacramento Second Saturday Art Walk. Check it out: -

We also did something besides sending out a letter...we made a video! It's called the "Starving Artist Campaign" a series of three videos that we sent out to raise money for the show we were doing at the time "See What I Wanna See" - Dancer Video - Singer Video - Actor Video

We thought it was a funny approach to ask for money. Spent about a day recording all three videos, and about a week editing it.

Home of the Best Musicals You've Never Seen

Posted By: sonshine
Date Posted: 6/06/09 at 2:00pm
What a fantastic idea.

Posted By: Tallsor
Date Posted: 11/11/09 at 12:41am
Okay, for those of you still 'watching' this board:
I'm helping a local arts organization - they do theatre and visual arts. They have a local celebrity (a newscaster from one of the TV stations) interested AND willing to help out with a fundraiser.
So ... what kind of fundraiser should we do that utilizes her involvement the most? I know we should probably have her host or emcee something possibly, or judge something - but wanted to see if anyone else had any ideas....

Posted By: Gaafa
Date Posted: 11/12/09 at 8:32pm
Cast her in a production!

Western Gondawandaland
turn right @ Perth.
Hear the light & see the sound.
Toi Toi Toi Chookas {{"chook [chicken] it is"}
May you always play
to a full house}

Posted By: John Luzaich
Date Posted: 11/13/09 at 12:46pm
I agree with Joe.  Put her in a show.  We did that with a popular news anchor in our area .  He's busy with the 5, 6 & 10pm news.  So, we put him in a small part at the beginning of the show (within the first half hour).  He could still do the 6pm news, do our show, and be back to the TV station long before his prep time for the 10pm news.  It was great and his "fame" helped generate a lot of buzz in the community.


Posted By: Tallsor
Date Posted: 11/13/09 at 3:40pm

Unfortunately, they don't do many theatrical productions, and they're looking for a separate event to involve her. Any other ideas? Thanks!

Posted By: MpmsDramaMama
Date Posted: 7/27/10 at 3:19pm
Have her spend a day on a billboard if they raise x dollars or put her in "jail" then she has to raise x dollars for bail and other people can have big wig community people put in jail for x dollars and then they have to raise x dollars in bail money.

Posted By: vickifrank
Date Posted: 7/27/10 at 4:13pm
Put here on the spot for entertainment and sell tickets or accept donations.  She does a few challenges similar to what Drew Carey used to do in "Who's Line is It Anyway?"
The audience gets to pay to see her do a pre-selected (thus clean) set of 'challenges'.  The MC awards 'points'  and the celebrity's 'goal' is to reach a 1000 points.  You have one of the frequent donors sponsor the show by offering to match the collections of the show (up to x dollars) if only she reached a 1000 points.  Of course this is somewhat rigged, because the MC awards arbitrary points, but the celebrity can plead with the audience to let her do "just one more challenge"--which of course they pay for by throwing money in a hat.
It will work best if you can get a second celebrity or very funny person to be the MC.


The theater scrim people

Posted By: John Luzaich
Date Posted: 10/28/10 at 4:46pm
We held an auction last month (both slient & live) and raised over $8,000.  (11,000 revenues & $3,000 expenses).  We held the "Director's Cup" golf tourney in the summer and raised over $3,000.  We've also sold raffle tickets like many theatres.  This year, we're presenting a movie series.  Started with older movies and going towards more current, once a month.  Free will offering only.  We showed a Buster Keaton comedy, then "Stagecoach" with John Wayne, "Pajama Game" with Doris Day, "White Christmas", "Hard Days Night" with the Beatles.  You find a sponsor to cover expenses to present the movie and the free will offering is your theatre's to keep.  We're doing the same thing with a concert series.  Find bands or groups to donate their time/gig and do a free will offering and the theatre keeps the profits.  We had a sold out Celtic concert and are looking to do that with a gospel concert and again with a jazz concert.  Just some ideas.


Posted By: Nyria
Date Posted: 1/10/11 at 5:20pm
Here are some ideas I have stolen.
-Princess Party:  If you are doing a children's show you can have a little VIP meet and great afterwards for kids.  (We are doing a cupcake party for the wizard of oz since there are no proncesses in it).
Peole buy special tickets that include the show and then a 'VIP' party afterwards where they meet the cast.
- Roses:  Have roses with little notecards at the front entry way.  then people can buy them and have them sent to actors backstage.  Get a local florist to donate these.
-Cast photo - get a framed picsture of the cast and auction it off.  I have never tried this but I have heard of it =)


Posted By: dramacorrect
Date Posted: 1/12/11 at 11:43pm -
Here are some ideas that I made a lens on.  They're not promotional events, exactly, but they can all be done online.  I've actually done all of these, and raised a total of $26,000 for a theatre I used to work for. 

------------- - Theatre Articles - Web Apps to Save Money
Community Theatre Fundraising

Posted By: Danny Beans
Date Posted: 4/14/11 at 3:28pm
Hi, folks.  First post!

One very simple method that has proven successful for my groups over the years is to put out a tip jar.  It's nothing big or obtrusive or preachy - just a clear container with a sign that says something along the lines of "If you enjoyed this show and would like to show a little extra support for theater in our community, donations are always welcome."  Most nights we've done this, we've averaged $1.50-$2.00 per head - nothing huge, but a few hundred dollars we wouldn't otherwise have had for almost no effort or investment.  And since it's small denominations (usually - though I've found twenties in there before), we tend to get donations from people who normally wouldn't have bothered.

Obviously, the quality of the show will affect the amount of money in the box.  All the more reason to give it your best, eh?

"Vox populi, vox humbug!"
- William Tecumseh Sherman

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