barganiing tactics


Active Member
when you are trying to get businesses to donate money or goods, what do you use to convince them?

we often allow local stores to donate goods in exchange for an ad, it saves us $ by supplying the product and costs them much less than buying an ad.

i also have a funny story that goes with this, on my last show, my SM, my ASM and I went to home depot and asked for a donation. they gave us alot of crap about how the manager wasn't there and everything had to go through headquarters anyway. the next day, my SM who is a girl went back with two other, quite attractive girls (i should know... i went out with one of them) instead of me and my ASM (both guys) and walked out with a few hundred dollars woth of paint and supplies. what can i say? girls, you have an unbelivable power over us men...


Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Seperate the corporate and the gimmies. Just threw out a few hundred feet of sound cable today. Cut off the plugs and stored them but didn't really need them considering they were not really the type I use. What's toss away such as a mis-match in paint is different than that of a corporate give away. Also ask me for the gear and it's different than asking someone else.

Get the idea here? Home Depot is a Corporate place that does fund the arts but you have to follow the channels. On the other hand if you need pallets, or mis-matched paint, depending upon who you ask, when and how the meeting goes, such stuff can be given away as other than corporate. Does not mean a $200.00 gift cirtificate as one might expect in folowing the proper guidelines you can spend as you wish, but it does mean some stuff at the last minute.

Find a copy of "Theater Management" by Stephen Langley. Good book!!!


Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
People are always going to ask "WHAT DO I GET OUT OF IT" and if you can satisfy that question, you will have a better chance of success.

Free advertising as you have mentioned is a good incentive but make sure that you put “generously supported by” or something similar in addition to just an ad. Also see if they want to incorporate a special offer (some stores have stock that they NEED to clear), like x$ of y if you present this ad.

Also tell them that they will get listed as supporters of the theatre department productions in the year book and I know that we were given an add on a calendar that was produced for a charity that we donated our services to. Our ad then sat on the fridge door in a lot of houses for the next 12 months. All different ways of making a product that will interest the client.

Community pride is also something that we talk about and if you can make an argument that they are supporting the community in supporting your production that may also be helpful. Let them know that their support allows kids to enter into such supervised theatre programs and productions, which in turn develops self esteem and s sense of community pride. The read between the lines message is that they will be seen as supporting a program which means that there are less bored kids in the community who will pain their buildings because there are no sets to paint.

Also look at companies like Subway and ask if you can get some vouchers for discounts or buy one get one free. Whilst you are not getting your subs for free you will at least get them at half price. Given the calendar option I mentioned – just think of what people are going to do when there is nothing interesting in the fridge but once they shut the door they Subway’s name and logo on the calendar.

I constantly have to find money for medical students and it is a struggle to do so, even telling them that these are the students that will soon be doctors and will one day possibly look after them, or their family, does not help.

I think the key is persistence. I have a large lever arch file that is full of letters and most of them have a corresponding “We would love to help but…..” reply filed with them. The more people that you ask the more chance you have of getting a favourable response.

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