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High School Stage Crew Fundraising Ideas

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by chrispo86, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Before I say anything, I want to acknowledge the fact that there's a couple other threads on fundraisers, but I'm looking for something a little more specific.

    I work for a high school and unfortunately due to administrators in another local district misusing district funds last year (i.e. buying jewlery, taking vacations, adding extensions to their houses) there are some very tight financial constraints in place this year. The school never really gave us much money in the first place, but now the funding is almost non-existant.

    Our equipment is well past the point where it needs replacing, but the school doesn't really seem to care because it's not athetics related (I have a bias, they dropped $2 million into astroturf and new bleechers for our crappy football team but won't spend $20 on the auditorium which rakes in ticket sales). I've been saying we need to do fundraising for a while, but now that the money flow has stopped completely, I want to do something about it.

    So now to the question. What are some things that people have done as fundraisers for a high school tech crew? I'm looking for ways to not only raise some decent money (I know it's not going to come all at once), but also to raise awareness to the condition of our auditorium (falling apart). This is solely to raise money for new equipment. I've thought of the usual car wash, bake sale, etc, but I'm looking for something a little different. It needs to be something that high school kids can do.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!
    Thanks!
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Benefit Concert. That type of thing maybe?
     
  3. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I recommend searching for a grant. Try Foundation Center - Knowledge to Build On as a start. Also, at my HS (granted this was years ago) we courted groups that would use our facility (local symphony) to help in replacing some of our instruments. We had no operating budget from the school/district; our budget was funds from ticket sales and donations. You might be able to get businesses to place adds in your programs to get funding. That can be one of the most pain free fundraisers since you don't have to worry about volunteers not showing up for a car wash, nor people to bake goods and sell them. Obviously if you are looking for capital improvements, that is going to have to go through the district.
    Make the most of what you have. Make it a learning experience in nursing your gear back to health (cleaning lenses and reflectors, replace lamp sockets and worn wiring, etc.), this way classmates better understand how the gear works. Of course, you should have qualified supervision when repairing anything electrical.
     
  4. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    I think a lot of the previous threads cover a lot of suggestions...

    ---start a concession stand: have actors bring in cookies, brownies, etc. as permitted by health code/school administration. Sell for profit.

    ---some sort of benefit performance

    ---sell ads in your program (at my high school we had a senior interested in sales do this, if you don't have the time. Then a group of students and parents put together the ads and took them to a printshop. Little work was done by the producer/director other than defining what it needed to look like and then final approval.)

    ---dinner theatre. See if a local restaurant or two would donate food, sell a ticket for dinner starting two hours before the show. At my high school, we got a local Italian restaurant to donate spaghetti and lemonade, a local bakery to donate rolls, a local Starbucks to donate coffee/hot chocolate, students were to bring in cookies/brownies for the dessert. $8 for the dinner (roughly) and $10 for the show.

    ---hold a theatre camp for local grade school. Charge for sign-up, get students to lead the sessions with the goal of performing a short skit for parents - this will also help train future people for your program! Maybe combine the skit with a benefit concert.

    ---The traditional car-wash, bake sale, rummage sale, magazine sale, coupon book sale... Sometimes easier to do but not as profitable.

    I guess the most important aspect is to figure out the strengths of your program and capitalize them. It sounds ruthless, but whatever works.
     
  5. elite1trek

    elite1trek Active Member

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    I do three a year and it brings a lot (for my theatre, anyway).

    I also sometimes have a karaoke contest. If you have connections with a local DJ or karaoke person, see if they will donate their time in exchange for promotion. The last contest I held had a $500 dollar prize, and we made good money.

    The only problem I see with these suggestions is that you are a student at a school, so you would have to get permission.
     
  6. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    First of all, thank you for the responses! I appreciate the help that I can always find on this forum.

    I like the idea of this, but who would you recommend perform, student groups or an outside group? Getting permission to hold such an event would not be a problem (just to clarify, I'm not a student, though everyone seems to think I am. I'm a former student who now works for the school as a contractor for their shows). My concern is that we have so many concerts put on by students that only have so-so attendance (our big ticket sales are drama/musicals), I feel like throwing another one in the mix wouldn't do any good...


    I've always liked the idea of a grant. Who wouldn't love free money?! My problem is that I haven't been able to find any grants that I can use towards the purchase of equipment. I'll definately have to sit and take a look at that website though. Thanks!


    Unfortunately, no outside groups use our space, otherwise I'm sure that would be a nice source to tap into.


    Unfortunately, student council AND Internation Thespian Society already have a monopoly on that market...


    A couple of people (including myself) have been pushing for this one for years. The director stands very solid on this point though and won't do it. He doesn't like the way it looks, feels that it clutters the program. I disagree and think it would be a great source of income, however he makes the program and has final say on the subject.


    As I said, I appreciate all of the suggestions. It's also not helping that the school has very strict rules on fundraising. They're rather dumb as well. For example, I thought of the simple idea of putting a donation jar in the lobby during shows. But, we're not allowed to do that, though I didn't get to hear the specific reason as to why.

    I know somebody somewhere mentioned showing movies, and this is one that we had thought of ourselves. Anybody have any luck with this kind of thing? We were thinking along the lines of kids movies once a month. How would you go about getting the rights to show a movie to an audiance (I assume you would need rights since we'd be charging admission).
     
  7. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Is there any type of local fundraising organization that you could work with? In Laguna Beach there is a local organization called Schoolpower who's sole purpose is raising money for the local schools. If there is a similar organization in your area, you should approach them and see if they would be willing to work with you in raising money for your theatre. If there is not, are there any other local organizations you could approach? Even if they can't help you raise money, they may be willing to teach you about the process of raising money.

    Be as specific as you can about what your needs are. The general statement "We need money for our theatre." is far less compelling to potential donors than "We need $15,000 for new lighting equipment."
     
  8. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Generally, copyright doesn't allow you to show a movie for profit, and I doubt Disney is giving ANYBODY rights to their stuff.

    Nothing is preventing you from showing a movie for free and charging for concessions however (heck, it's how regular film houses make their dough . . .)
     
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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  10. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    I've never heard of anything like that around here, but I'll definately have to look into it.

    As for the movies, the stage crew director of the school is also the TV Journalism teacher and he's the one who originally suggested a movie day. I know he said something about getting the rights, and that for older movies they're relatively cheap. I was just wondering if anybody knew how to get them. I'll have to have a chat with him one of these days...
     
  11. LekoBoy

    LekoBoy Active Member

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    lieperjp and (deleted member) like this.
  12. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I meant in a high school environment, not in an actual movie theatre. Of course a movie is produced with the aim of making money there. I was surprised at the Nash article -- good score there Derek. It does NOT stem my profound disappointment, however, that enough people saw Beverly Hills Chihuahua to have it gross 29 mil in three days.
     
  13. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Anther few things that I came across:

    A coupon book or card with local businesses in it. Our drama department did it, a local football team did it, a music department did it, There are companies out there that do it for you, or you can do it yourself (would be a lot of work.)

    Many local "big-box" or big chain stores have donations available in two ways. One is to apply for a donation. A second is getting onto a rewards card program. For example -- getting on the Target card donation program, where, I believe, when a customer gets a Target credit card and then when they use that card 1% of the purchase goes to a charity of their choice. Or with Kwik Trip (don't know if they have any around where you are...) you can get on the Kwik Trip card program where 3% of convenience store purchases and 3 cents from each gallon of gas go to the charity of your choice.

    Do a recyclables drive - aluminum cans or even the pop-tops from the cans. Around here, if you watch the aluminum prices you can get a lot of money. If your school does not have aluminum recycling bins out for cans, put some out and save those cans!
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008
  14. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Wait, first problem - student government and Thespians already have a monopoly on concessions? Student government shouldn't be making money off your performances if you need the cash, and Thespians need to kick money back to the theater if that's the case.

    Look for grants from local businesses. These are often unclaimed yearly. Wal-Mart, for all that they have a bad reputation, loves to dump money into the community. A local church hosted meetings for them, and they basically gave the church a blank check. Not exactly a grant, but that's the type of situation you can look in to.

    Find out if your school district has a technology budget. Start meeting with district people in person and professionally, and redirect funding. Look for safety concerns as a foot in the door if necessary - think old lights with asbestos cables, for example.

    Find out if your district has a facilities budget. If so, make nice with the people in charge of that for minor equipment. For a while I was buying lamps from that fund.

    Look for a furniture budget - same as above.

    Do you do any rentals? Look for where that money goes to the district.

    Can students buy some sort of activity card, and get into events for a discount? I get a cut of money from the school from that fund.

    - Post a wish list, online or in your programs. Every year we also hold a materials drive, and I get ladders, cables, and old tools this way. Every dollar not spent replacing worn out tools can be spent on theatrical equipment.
    - Talk to local contractors and ask for scrap lumber at the end of housing projects. Free wood, and it's usually larger stock than what you buy at Home Depot. Two houses worth of scrap built most of my sets last year.
    - I post "fun facts" about the production, including costs and ticket revenue. In my imagination I believe that patrons who notice the negative balance between numbers are more likely to donate.
    - Put a donation box on a table patrons pass during intermission and after the show. A really good night nets me $50, which goes a long ways. The box took about 20 minutes to build.
    - Sell flowers during intermission for patrons to give to performers afterwards
    - Sell autographed pictures of the cast
    - If your school is in a wealthy area, consider one of those programs where people buy a title and you list them in a visible place in the theater. You know, Directors - donations of $500, Actors - donations of $200, etc. For technical needs, maybe have them purchase equipment and name the light after them (The John Smith Source 4....).
     
  15. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Oh, and...if the district does not listen to your requests to update old gear, consider upping your arguments. Get Dr. Doom's book and point out the necessity for safe equipment. As a last resort, ask a few parents to make phone calls for you. The reason schools listen to athletics is because football parents are scary. Squeaky wheel, unfortunately, gets the grease.

    Halloween is coming - maybe rent costumes, or offer gory makeup for a small fee? Have your tech experts apply it before school or at lunch? Just thought of this, so I've never tried it.
     
  16. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    This is from the perspective of a Canadian teacher here, so adjust as needed. Here, if you cry Health and Safety, people (particularly administrators) open the coffers a little more easily. Also, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation has grants for high schools, specifically for things that show off what the school does to the larger community. I get $500 each year that way for a thanks in the program and sending a couple pictures in for their newsletter.
     
  17. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Movies are great, though I would always preview the disk that you get from Swank. I was doing poolside movies for a resort hotel that rented from Swank and the disks were so often scratched beyond playability that we would use a rental from Blockbuster for the performance and the licensing from Swank. Didn't have those kind of troubles back in the day with 35mm films (just the scratches that you see in any theater). I would recommend charging next to nothing on admission so that people are more likely to buy concessions (depending on how the school deals with food in the theater) and it decreases the amount you have to pay for royalties. Since this is not one of the plays, you should also be able to get some of the advertising dollars through sponsorship (especially if you do a movie series, LOTR or Star Wars for example).

    Something else we did a lot is working with a restaurant, the students would provide bussing service or act as wait staff or even dish washers and get a percentage of the night's revenue. Sometimes the business would require nothing more than advertising and provide all their own staff (health regulations I'm sure).
     
  18. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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  19. jdandreas09

    jdandreas09 Member

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    1. talk to any local music stores they will have many people you can contact
    2. run a bake sale
    3 carwash
     
  20. Pip

    Pip Active Member

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    Dang dude, what high school you from? Sounds like you described my old high school!!

    Our theatre program was funded solely by ticket sales, and what measly amount we got from the district. That's about all I know... Our director was adamantly against booster programs...
     

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