The biggest mistake a performing arts organization can make is to be timid about its fundraising.
So don't be timid. Be bold. You're providing something essential to the community, and you need money to operate. You can't get what you don't ask for. So ask. Be creative, charming and outgoing (without being pushy). And do so year-round, versus once a year. Make it fun, and you may just be surprised at what comes back to you.
With this in mind, following are twenty ideas that just may help you raise funds for your organization, and in a way that's actually fun for all involved.
The next time you print up promotional posters, postcards, or window cards, be sure to save a few back, then have them signed by the entire cast! These items are great keepsakes, and make great items for auction.
You can also do the same with T-shirts signed by the cast, as well. Make sure everyone uses permanent Sharpie markers, for longevity.
Sell admission (by invitation only) to an exclusive, swanky cocktail party with the cast whose theme ties in with the show's. Get RSVP's, see if you can get a caterer to donate food, and have the cast attend in full costume.
If you can get the blessings of the appropriate designers, auction off sketches or signed computer-generated images of your costume designs, set designs, or light plots, all autographed by the designers themselves.
Trading out a little ad space, a production credit, or a special-patron thanks is a smart and savvy way to get some goods or services that you can then auction off as part of your fundraising efforts. Such goods and services might include:
Auction off a romantic evening created by your cast and crew! Join up with a local restaurant for the meal itself, then serve the meal on a beautifully appointed table on your stage, under the 'stars' and against a beautiful backdrop. Have select members of the cast 'serve' the happy couple and serenade them throughout the evening.
For dance groups involving a bit of glitz, like tap or jazz, for instance, auction signed tap shoes or taps, top hats, canes, scarves, or other jazzy accoutrements.
For ballet companies, auction off old pointe shoes from the principal dancers, and autographed by them. For a dramatic touch, mount the shoes on a doll stand before selling at auction.
Auction off an intimate dinner with the leading actors after a show. Everyone loves the chance to meet and talk to performers!
As a variation on the previous approach, if your storage or costume shop is overflowing with costumes, props, or set pieces, consider auctioning off certain set pieces or props, as well. Again, you could have these signed by designers or cast principals, depending on the items involved.