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Fundraising Strategies for Your School’s Theatre Program

By On The Stage
theater director counting out fundraising donations

As a theatre teacher, you’re already doing a lot for your department and your school. You’ve once again been tasked to lead a theatre fundraiser, even though it may not be your area of expertise. Here are a few strategies to help you get started on your fundraising so you can get back to creating great theatre with your students. 

Create a department wish list

Similar to a wedding registry, creating a wish list or department registry enables your donors to see exactly what you want and makes it easy for them to “buy.” Including pictures, quantities, and price points helps your donors feel like they’re really making an impact. These itemized campaigns tend to outperform general “support our theatre” campaigns. Start making your list!  

Ongoing campaigns

With ongoing campaigns, you’ve got more time and creative freedom to achieve your fundraising goals for the fiscal year. Decide how often you’re going to engage donors, keeping track of who’s donated when. Lead with the ask of a recurring donation, as these are five times more valuable than one-time donations. Market the campaign from a variety of angles to experiment with what inspires your donors to take action and give. One idea is to create multiple videos highlighting different parts of your theatre department and how donations have already helped and how further donations will continue to grow the program.  

Show-specific campaigns

Show-specific campaigns are a great way to reach short-term fundraising goals that benefit your school for the near future and also generate buzz around your production. Designing a fundraiser around a show’s unique needs helps clarify your fundraising mission and marketing.

Savvy theatremakers can use and reuse costumes and set pieces for multiple productions, but there are some things that are very show-specific. Think the Audrey II puppet from Little Shop of Horrors, Cinderella’s coach, any and all costumes from The Wizard of Oz. You just can’t do those shows without their iconic elements, and those cost money.   

Fundraising for your particular production may be a lot easier than a general department fundraiser because people like to know where their dollars are helping. Show-specific campaigns can also build a lot of excitement because of their limited timeline. Channel that excitement and enthusiasm into your “asks.”   

Soliciting In-Kind Donations 

In some cases, it may be easier to acquire in-kind donations of goods or services especially from businesses. What are some things you need for the school or what would just make things easier? Don’t forget about food! Sometimes in-kind food donations from restaurants and grocery stores are the easiest to ask for and get for your dinner-time rehearsals, cast parties, and special events.

Make a list of supplies, equipment, furniture, and other things the theatre department needs. Share your list with your colleagues and students and ask if they have any relatives or family friends who own or work at businesses your school can partner with.  

Be sure to document your correspondence and donations with these businesses so you can reference their donation history for the next time you ask. Anything on your list that you’re not able to acquire for in-kind donations can go on your itemized donation registry.  

Selling Goods & Merch

If you’re not sure if selling goods is a successful fundraising strategy, see: the Girl Scouts. There are plenty of fundraising options when it comes to selling goods, and they’re often edible - though they don’t have to be! What can your school sell that people would love to buy? 

There’s also merchandise that you can sell that’s branded for your school, your department, or your production. During your production, you can even have a merch table open before, during intermission, and after the show in addition to your online sales page.  

If you’re ready to implement these strategies or take your fundraising to the next level, On the Stage has created an easy-to-use online platform that you can customize to your school’s needs. Whether it’s an on-going or show-specific campaign, wish lists or merch sales, our Fundraising Suite has the tools to help you hit your goals. Book your demo today and learn how On the Stage can amplify your fundraising with custom campaigns, video on demand productions, and our donor relationship management system.   

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On The Stage

On The Stage

By theatre makers, for theatre makers, On The Stage offers expert insights, best-in-class support, and an all-in-one platform for ticketing, promotion, audience engagement, and more...including a complete production and streaming platform for performing artists. Learn more today.