How to raise more money for theatre department


Active Member
Nov 19, 2006
Provo, Utah, United States
Our high school is getting low on budget, and it looks like the next few shows are going to be pretty pathetic if we don't do something fast. We are looking into any ideas for getting more money for a high school drama department.

Does anyone have any experience selling ad space in the playbill? How much money should we ask for in exchange for a small add, and what types of places typically go for that kind of thing?

Has grant writing proved successful for anyone? I'm not too sure how to go about doing that, and I don't know if that is a good or very likely option.

I've seen other good ideas about holding other events like talent shows and things like that. Other groups in our school have done movies in the past. How have events like these worked you you guys in the past?

Also, does anyone know a few good books that might relate to our situation?

Any input would be helpful, and super-duper-awesome. :)


The Royal Renaissance Man
Jul 6, 2005

There are some starting points for you.

I believe when I was in high school the playbill ads were $25, $50, $100 for a quarter, half, and full page, respectively. Depending on the community you could charge more/less. The school in the city I actually lived in was about 2-3x as much.

Grants can work, but I wouldn't plan on getting one as your only source of money, there is a lot of competition for them. Better to have money, and hope for more.

There is a book called Building the Successful Company by Mucahy that may be of some interest but it's not geared towards high schools.
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Well-Known Member
Departed Member
Jun 4, 2009
Banks, resturants, and other service type businesss are good choices for ad space. Check with your office staff, someone in the school will be an expert grant writer. If not there, check your local Park and Rec or arts council, both apply for grants on a regular basis.


Apr 9, 2009
One thing we do is hold a student written and directed one act play festival. Provided that you do not have to pay to use the auditorium or pay your technicians, you do not loose money.

We have one supervisor (usually the director) and around four to five one acts. They usually last 15-25 minutes. It was a fun way for us to fundraiser. We charge a pay to play fee for the actors and let the writers and directors participate for free. In addition to pay to play fees, we sell ads in the program.

Each one act has everything handled by the director (typically the student who wrote it. I have written two, directed the first year and let someone else the second) and usually require minimal tech involvement. We have never built a set for a one act, always used furniture and props that the school owned (or that the student brings in or buys) for the set. The lights are very minimal. We just have a few submasters programed before the show. A SL, SR, CC, Apron and General areas. We usually only use half the stage for acting (in front of the second act in our school) , nothing more than that is ever needed. Tech positions we have had were SM, ASM, ME and Sound.

This usually lasts us about a month from due dates for scripts to production night. Every time I have done it it has been an amazing experience and everyone I have done it with has had a good time too. It does not require use of the stage for rehearsal either, so it would not take up time on the stage, if stage time is valuable for you.

It is a great way to fundraise as well as put on a fun show at the same time. A great way to get more students from around the school into drama as well as show more into the side of writing and directing one acts.


Senior Team
Senior Team
Premium Member
Nov 24, 2005
Saratoga Springs, NY
Do you have a booster club?

One successful event that we had year after year at my high school was "Gentlemens night out". It was sponsored by one of our booster board members and held at the local American Legion hall. The legion donated the hall. We had about 30 tables that were sold to local groups and businesses for about 500 a table. The night was there to play cards, smoke cigars, etc.. Obviously students did not attend due to the smoking and such. Many businesses like this sort of events. Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce. We could usually make 4-5k off of it every year. While I was there we bought two new spots and about 20 wireless mics with the money.


Oct 1, 2009
You can set up an account with amazon that lets a % of books sold be donated to your department. It works, its not a lot but it helps buy gels and gaff tape for the year. Also I foget if its google or another search engine but once you set up acount through there they end up donateing as well to the school. I think you will have to look that one up.


Well-Known Member
Nov 10, 2009
Auburn, New York
I think Nate may be referring to GoodSearch.


Active Member
Mar 18, 2009
Definitely Goodsearch. There's also a Goodshop, which will take a percentage of each purchase from people who select your program and forward the money on to you. You need to be a nonprofit to qualify.


Active Member
Jan 21, 2010
I will need to see about that GoodSearch thing.
Our auditorium has no budget, comes from school's, drama's, or music's.
We only use maybe, a role of gaffing tape and a few gel sheets a year.

We are big on selling advertisement space. And buying the cast and crew T or Sweat shirts and selling them to them a few dollars more.

I think advertisement space is a great thing.
Just type in "Sponsored by ________" and a logo on the front page, kaching :)
Our little venue doesn't ask for much :) Well, except for this year with looking to build platform, get a new lighting desk, and new sound system xD. But besides that, we really don't buy anything except for tape and gels.. Wood comes from grounds or engineering. And the bulbs go through the maintenance (Yes!).

Heh, most of the other things, notebooks, desklamps, most tape, wires, walkytalkies and whatnot are doanted by us and sometimes reimbeust, but, yeah :p


Active Member
Mar 17, 2010
Door County, Wisconsin
Depending on the level of committment and time/resources/volunteers you'd be able to gather, a haunted attraction can turn out to be an amazing fundraiser.

We started doing a Haunted Mansion at a local campgrounds four years ago precisely as a fundraiser for our school/community auditorium. It takes 100+ volunteers each night during the actual attraction and a core group of dedicated leaders to organize and plan which starts in the early summer.

Luckily, the space and storage is donated by the campgrounds as we turn their pavilion into our actual attraction. In addition to the mansion, we do a haunted corn maze, haunted bus ride and haunted cementary. Concessions are also sold.

We're traditionally open the 4 weekends in October (8-9 nights). The first year we had approx. $4,000 in net profits which factors in a lot of large purchases/equipment that was purchased). This past year in 2009, we had approximately $15,000 that was net profit.

It's turned into a better fundraiser than even we first imagined and it's been growing quickly each year. Don't be misled. While it has become an amazing fundraiser, the work, planning, and number of volunteers needed to pull this off and have a top quality event is immense.

In the four years since, we've used funds raised to purchase 24 color scrollers, wireless intercom headsets, wireless Sennheiser mic systems, Apollo Right Arms, and more. In part, this has what allowed us to become an amazingly well-equipped auditorium.

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