While you and your cast are likely in the stressful trenches of rehearsals right about now, it’s also time to think about one more thing: fundraising! As opening night approaches, it’s crucial to have capital ready for further programming down the road.
But where to start? On The Stage presents a few tried-and-true ways to raise some money for your theatre, turning your program into a high-performing fundraising machine!
Sell Advertisements in Your Program
Most proud families want to congratulate their actors or crew members on a job well done – so why not capitalize on that? Have a student marketing team at the ready to sell advertising spots to those interested patrons. With competitive pricing and a tenacious team, you’ll likely fill the program in no time.
Consider reaching out to local businesses as well, especially those with similar interests, alongside boutiques, restaurants, museums, galleries and more. (Pssst: we can even help make your program great with our Showgram tool!)
Host Programming for Feeder Schools/Other Students
Plan ahead and promote your offerings for younger students and feeder schools in your program. Some helpful (and capital-raising) ideas include:
- Informative workshops for aspiring thespians
- Weeklong or weekend camps for younger kids
- Talent shows
- Open houses to introduce actors and crew members to your theatre
With small entry or participation fees, you can both educate the next generation of great actors and raise money to better your own theatre.
Find Sponsors in the Community
Finding corporate or community sponsors can be intimidating, but the rewards are worth it – trust us. With a sponsored production, you’ll extend your show’s reach and appear more credible to the community at large. After all, a reputable business wouldn’t partner with an unreliable theatre!
Push Merchandise Outside Your Theatre Bubble
Take extra time this season to make your merchandise truly eye-catching. Then, promote it across your theatre and in the community as a whole. After all, people love swag – from coffee cups to shirts, hoodies and everything in between. Don’t be afraid to push your merchandising to people outside your theatre bubble for extra money-making opportunities.
For a bonus idea, consider selling posters signed by your whole cast, or auctioning off important props and costumes after the show closes.
Organize Community Fundraising Events
Fundraising events can seem daunting – but they can be as simple as car washes and bake sales, or as complex as themed trivia nights, bingo, talent shows, or exciting auctions. Along with being a great way to network with potential partners, fundraising events can be a great time to get creative. Consider auctioning off tickets to the best seats in the house, or a small walk-on role.
If you plan it correctly, you can harness the power of Giving Tuesday – which falls on November 29. Created as a counter to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is described as a “global generosity movement, unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities.” Consider holding fundraising events on this day, and donating a portion of your proceeds to a local nonprofit. (It can also be a great bonding exercise to have your whole cast agree on the chosen nonprofit.)
Network Through Social Media
Low stakes and low effort, running fundraising campaigns through social media can often further your reach – meaning donations from people across the country or the globe. Ideas include:
- Creating an Amazon wishlist for certain pricey costumes, props, or set pieces
- Organizing a GoFundMe or other crowdsourcing petition for specific items, trips, etc.
- Requesting donations for clothing, props, or even time through your social media platforms
Concessions, Concessions, Concessions!
Dinner and a show? Sounds delightful! While we doubt you can concoct a full meal for your loyal patrons, it doesn’t hurt to sell concessions at your show for that extra monetary bump.
You’ll likely already have a booth at the ready for ticketing and merchandise, so why not add on to it with candy, popcorn, drinks and other snacks? (Just remember to advise your patrons to eat and drink respectfully while in the theatre, or finish their snacks before the show starts.)
Sell Tickets to Your Final Dress Rehearsal
Selling tickets to your last rehearsal offers two-fold benefits: On one hand, you’ll make extra money before your show has even opened, and on the other, your cast and crew will get additional practice in front of a crowd. This, in turn, may help you iron out any kinks before the curtain lifts on opening night. Win-win!
With these tools in your belt, we wish you the best on your journey to creating a well-oiled fundraising machine this fall season. If you’re looking for a bit more guidance on empowering your theatre as a whole, book a personalized demo with an On The Stage expert today.