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20 Essential Fundraising Ideas

A few creative approaches to help you bring in the moolah!

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11. Sell bargain tickets to Final Dress

Photo © Flickr user haydnseek

Sell admission to your final dress rehearsal(s) at a reduced rate. Today's poor student is tomorrow's successful theatre patron.

12. Team up with a local restaurant

Photo © Flickr user pochacco20

Team up with a local restaurant for a 'themed' night, at a special price per plate, with serenading performances by your cast throughout the meal.

13. Paint, sign and sell your old instruments...

For symphonies or musical groups, collect old or broken (i.e., unplayable) instruments from musicians, then have them signed or painted by the musicians, and auction or raffle them off! It's a great and special way to add a bit of life to the instrument, and turns it into a treasured keepsake.

14. Sell admission to a staged reading

Stage a highly publicized one-night-only (or one-weekend-only) reading, and sell tickets at a premium. Add a bit of glitz to the event by involving a local celeb or respected guest, even a local politician. Keep everything formal, beautifully set up, and elegant.  Use barstools for the performers, not chairs. Light the reading creatively.  And introduce and close the reading with reminders to donate and support the rest of your season.

15. Ask your local business community...

If you're a nonprofit, solicit donations of goods to sell or auction from local businesses, emphasizing that you'll promote their support in your PR campaign as well as in your programs for the year.

16. Stage benefit concerts... even in the streets!

Photo © Flickr user Dorky Mum

While benefit concerts are a tried and true approach, you could take that a step further and offer smaller, isolated performances around town for donations, including soloists, duets, string quartets, and more.  Always make sure the performers are clearly wearing T-shirts or sweatshirts with your organization name or logo -- every little bit of advertising helps!

17. Use the power of Social Media

Get a business to offer a show sponsorship or donation if you get X number of Facebook fans... then get those fans! Do a variation of this on Twitter, promising some humorous but dire outcome if you don't reach the desired number of followers.

18. Sell your stuff on CafePress

Put your logo on an array of stuff at CafePress. It's free for a basic assortment (meaning a single image on everything available). Mark everything up to PREMIUM. Don't hesitate. You'll thank me. Then promote the heck out of it. Full disclosure -- I've run a CafePress store for five years, both in support of my theatrical enterprises, as well as to celebrate my love of pop culture and the performing arts. It's something that's easy, free (or nearly free), and a surprising revenue source if you promote it right.

19. Get a local corporation to sponsor an appropriate show

Today, it's all about branding and promotion. So get a local corporation to sponsor a specific show. This is especially effective if the show and the corporation are a good match. For instance:

  • Get an ad agency, temp agency, or office-supply company to sponsor How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying
  • Get a realty group or groups to support Glengarry Glen Ross
  • Get a swanky local hair salon or group to sponsor your production of Hair
  • See if a local veteran's organization will sponsor your production of Mister Roberts -- or A Few Good Men!

20. Auction off the best seats in the house

Photo © Flickr user Palfest

Some people want the best, and they're willing to pay for it!  With this in mind, sell the two (or four, or six, etc.) best seats in the house at a premium, at auction. Sell them by the show, or by the season -- you'll be surprised how popular this option will turn out to be.

So that's the scoop!

You get the idea...  Your fundraising possibilities are limited only by your creativity. Go forth, be creative -- then share your successes in our forums!

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