Fundraising. No one likes it, but we all gotta do it.
With funding for the arts limited more than ever nowadays, it’s often up to the theatre troupe itself to raise most of it’s money for a production. I asked a few directors and drama teachers what methods they used to cover costs. Combined with some of my personal experience, I compiled a list of some proven ways to raise money for your next children’s play or musical.
1. Local Business Ads in Playbill
Approach local businesses and ask them to consider taking out a small ad in your program or “playbill”. Come prepared with a standard letter that outlines the program and the benefits it serves the community, as well as how many people you expect will “see” the ad. I typically see pricing along the lines of: $25 for business card, $50 for ½ page, $100 for whole page. Heck, while you’re there you might as well ask if you can put a flyer up on their window. Make a special announcement before the show encouraging the audience to patronize the businesses in the program. Tell your audience to thank them for supporting the “________ Theatre Program”.
2. Feed Them
People love food. And people will pay for food. One school I spoke with offered a dinner/show option for one night of the performance. Tables were set up in the auditorium and attendees payed for a “VIP” dinner/show ticket. If you can get a local restaurant to sponsor this (Hey, 200 people trying out your good eats!) then you can raise some serious cash. If a full dinner isn’t an option, you can always sell themed treats before and after the performance.
3. Lines in Program
Save a page in your program for “Star Notes”. For $5 or so a line, friends and family of the cast can write a personalized note to be printed in the program. Variation: Backstage notes, or “Star-grams”. For a $1 donation, audience members can send notes backstage to cast and crew members right before the performance.
4. Sell DVDs
Hire a professional videographer to film the production, and have DVD order forms available to fill out at the performances. If possible, encourage the videographer to interview the kids before the show and include it as a DVD “Extra” – this always adds a very special touch. Every Beat by Beat musical comes with a DVD License which allows you to copy and sell DVDs worry-free so long as it’s being used for non-commercial home use.
5. Personalized Posters
Find a photo-shop whiz-kid to help you design a custom-made poster for your production. Consider personalizing them with each actor’s name as a “star” and offer them as an optional purchase to the cast.
6. Sell T-Shirts
Create a T-Shirt with the show’s logo on the front and the cast list on the back. Sell it as an optional item for the cast and crew members. Each Beat by Beat musical comes with a “Logo License” that allows you to use our artwork for purposes such as this.
7. Corporate Sponsor
For those particularly good at wheelin’ and dealin’, talking a large business or corporation into sponsoring your program can reap huge rewards. When approaching these big guys, make sure you have detailed information about your program readily available that highlights the positive impact theatre has on the community. Offer to put up a large banner of their choosing in your auditorium or outside your theatre, to mention their name before each performance, and/or give them prime space on the back of the program. Typically these sponsorships are in the the $500+ range.
Do you have something to add to this list? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and let’s brainstorm together.
Beat by Beat Press is the world’s fastest growing publisher of new children’s musicals and teaching drama resources, founded by a team of award-winning playwrights in New York City. Since 2011 Beat by Beat musical plays for kids have received over 6,200 productions in 75 countries around the globe.