Fantastic Fundraisers for Theatre Programs That Actually Make Money

Written by Tiffany Wilkie

May 2, 2018

Planning a fundraiser for the new school year? Check out this list of successful fundraisers guaranteed to add money to your budget.

1. Improvisation Shows

Theatre kids love improv, so why not make some money from it? Hold auditions for a performance improv troupe. Schedule rehearsals to prepare the troupe for show style improv. Promote the show at school and on social media. Charge $5 at the door. Do a show once every few months. After a few months, people will so look forward to the improv shows that you will barely have to advertise.

Possible profit: $1,200 per show

2. Frozen Cookie Dough

A great beginning of the year fundraiser to motivate the younger kids in your program. Team up with a company like Classic Cookie. Set a $100 goal for each student. Offer prizes for the top three sellers and a party for the class who raises the most. Choose two parents to coordinate the day the money is collected. Those same two parents should also coordinate the after-school delivery date. Check out Classic Cookie’s website here.

Possible profit: $9,000+

3. Faculty Talent Show

A Faculty Talent Show is a fantastic way to bring the school together and raise money for your program. Choose a date when the environment in the school is festive, like spirit week or around the holidays. Get permission to send an email or speak about the event at a faculty meeting. Encourage participants to sign-up. Choose a popular teacher or administrator to be the Master of Ceremonies. Put your kids in charge of promoting the event on social media. Hold one after-school rehearsal. Charge $5 for entrance.

Possible profit: $3,500

4. Drive 4 Your School

It’s simple. A person test drives a car at your school and you make $20 per household. Several national car dealerships, including Ford, offer this fundraiser for schools. According to Ford’s website: “Drive 4 UR School began in 2007 as a way for Ford to give back to communities across the country. The idea was simple: Test-drive a Ford vehicle from a local dealership, get money for your school.” Check out Ford’s website for more information.

Possible profit: up to $6,000

5. Parent’s Night Out

These days theatre kids are card-carrying, first aid trained babysitters, so why not put those skills to work? The formula is simple, offer a parent’s night out to the teachers and staff of your school once a month on a Friday night. Kids should be ages 5-10. Staff the event with a few thespian parents and babysitting pro thespians. Kids should arrive fed with a drink and a snack. Show a movie in the auditorium and play some games. Hours should be from 6pm- 10pm. Charge $20 per kid.

Possible profit: $1,250

6. Children’s Theatre Show

A children’s show is an excellent way to not only make money for the department but also create a relationship with future thespians and parents. Choose a children’s straight play or an MTI Junior Musical. Consider doing the show out of your advanced theatre class or hold general auditions. Invite schools to the show with plenty of notice. Schedule the show during a time that does not conflict with testing, in the morning, before lunch. Charge $5 per person or $100 for a class. Invite all of your feeder schools, public and private. Do a meet and greet with the cast after the show.

Possible profit: $3,500 per show

7. Video Game Tournament

A bit outside the box, but consider doing a video game tournament in your auditorium. Choose a student committee to promote and run the event with the help of a few parents. Choose a video game like Super Smash Brothers. Require participants to bring their own controller. Charge players $5 to play once and $2 for every game after that. Students who are knocked out will actually pay to play again. Sell concessions. Offer a prize for the overall champion, like a new video game. Charge $3 to people who just want to watch.

Possible profit: $1,500

8. Sell Water at a Local Festival

Perhaps your city has a local fall festival, Highland Games tournament, or holiday parade? If so, inquire with the person in charge of the operation to see if they will donate a booth in exchange for volunteer hours from your students. If they say yes, ask each member of your department to donate a large pack of water. Schedule students and a few parents to run the booth and do the volunteer hours. Sell water cheaper than anyone else.

Possible Profit: $1,000

9. Character Breakfasts

Choose a holiday like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter, etc. Invite the community to have pancakes with Santa or characters from favorite children programs. Your students will dress up like the characters, serve the pancakes, and interact with the kids. Charge $5 per person or $20 per family. Choose a few parents to prep the food. Hit up the dollar store for cheap décor and supplies. This idea could really be done with just about anything, but nothing is cuter than kids in cute PJs.

Possible profit: $3,000

10. Ask for Donation Performance

Contact your local grocery store and ask if they allow donation days. Try to get a day in the fall or spring. Ask students to dress in fun costumes. If a student plays the ukelele or guitar, encourage that too. Have the students make signs that ask for donations, Instruct the students not to ask people, but allow the signs to speak for themselves. Students should sing show tunes and tell jokes. You would be surprised how much this makes people smile and willing to donate.

Possible profit: $1,000+

Need some advice? We’ve got you covered.

Tiffany Weagly-Wilkie is the Director of Theatricals for She also serves as the Casting Director for The Imagination House.