12 Unique Fundraising Ideas for Drama Clubs and Theatre Groups

Your drama club knows what it’s like to shine on stage. Getting the funds you need to make your shows the best they can be? That’s a different story. In this article, we’ll look at twelve unique fundraising ideas for drama clubs and theatre groups, that will get you the funds you need so you can keep rehearsing and performing.

10 minutes read
12 Unique Fundraising Ideas for Drama Clubs and Theatre Groups

drama club fundraising ideas

Your drama club knows what it’s like to shine on stage. When it comes to rehearsing for your spring production of Grease or your competition-ready performance of The Glass Menagerie, you’re ready to go—no problem!

Getting the funds you need to make your shows the best they can be? That’s a different story. Here at Donorbox, we believe that the answer to that question can be ‘yes’.

With simple yet effective fundraising campaigns, drama clubs or theatre groups like yours can easily meet their need for funds. You have your team to help you on the ground or set up an online campaign. Also, they can help spread the word in the community. So you see, you’re already one step ahead!

But you can still do with some great drama club fundraising ideas!

In this article, we’ll look at 12 unique fundraising ideas for drama clubs and theatre groups, that will get you the funds you need so you can keep rehearsing and performing.

12 Fundraising Ideas for Drama Clubs & Theatre Groups 

1. Sell donuts to your audience

What do donuts have to do with drama? Well, nothing, really, except that people love them. And online sites like Krispy Kreme have an incredible program to help groups like yours raise money by selling delicious glazed donuts. They let you keep up to 50% of the profit from the sold donuts.

Over the last year, Krispy Kreme has helped organizations fundraise around $37 million. They even rolled out a no-contact, online ordering option so your club can choose to either fundraise virtually or in person, where you deliver the donuts to your donors personally.

This is a great option because you can assign each person in your club a minimum—say, five boxes of donuts each—to ensure you reach your fundraising goal without putting too much stress on one person.

You can also promote this fundraiser during your shows. It’s simple. Announce to your audience what it is about and how even a dozen donuts can help keep your club running. Take orders and then deliver them through sites like Krispy Kreme. 

2. Sell ads on your playbills

If you print playbills for every show you perform, you have a ton of opportunities to cash in on some advertising revenue.

Selling ads in your playbills does a few things:

  • First and foremost, it helps generate some extra funds for your drama club.
  • It gets the community more involved. Selling ads to local businesses means you’re encouraging local businesses to get involved—with your club, your community, and with the arts in general. The community will be more likely to attend your shows and support you in the future.
  • It spawns more sales in the future. Think about it: someone comes to your show and notices beautiful full-and-half-page ads in your playbills. They now know that buying ad space is an option and are more likely to buy ad space from you in the future!

If you already have playbills, you’ll need to decide how much room you’d like to designate for ads. Once you have a goal in mind, you can ask each member of your club to reach out to their network to find interested businesses.

Pro tip: You’ll need to decide on a cost schedule that makes sense for you. Think about charging the most for ads that will feature on the front or back covers, then the next step down is a full-page, then a half-page, etc. Be sure to consider any increased costs in printing with more pages to be sure you still turn a profit! 

3. Host a car wash in your community

There’s a reason this one is a cliche. It’s effective!

Hosting a car wash is an excellent fundraising technique because if you do it right, you have almost no expenses—meaning your efforts result in pure profit.

To host a car wash, you’ll need the following:

  • A place to have it. Ask local businesses with big parking lots if you can use their space during a generally slower day. Remember this is a win-win situation. Because in return for your good work, people notice the business and it may have a lasting impression on them.
  • Soap, rags, buckets, and a water source. You can ask the business for a water hook-up (maybe offer them a free shoutout in your playbill for sponsoring you!) and ask your drama club members to come up with the rest of the materials on their own. That way no one person is burdened with the task.
  • Advertising. You’ll need some flashy posters and maybe someone posted up by your carwash entrance to let those driving by know about this great deal!
  • Participation. As long as you get the majority of your club members to help out, you can have a smooth car wash fundraiser.

You should create an online fundraising page in tandem with this fundraiser. Turn this campaign into a peer-to-peer fundraising one by inviting your club members to fundraise for you. This enables your club to raise extra funds through your members’ networks. Donorbox Peer-to-Peer lets you easily get started and invite your supporters from the tool itself. They will receive emails asking them to create a fundraising campaign page and raise funds for you.

Another innovative and swift way to accept donations with your car wash is setting up a donation kiosk at your venue. Use the Donorbox Live™ Kiosk app to easily turn your iPad or Android tablet into a donation kiosk paired with a card reader device. Ask people coming in for the car wash to make a donation with credit/debit cards or by using digital wallets. People will appreciate this convenience of quick, cashless donations at your event!

Image of Live Kiosk in action on a tablet, including three types of payment options - credit card, smartwatch, and smartphone.

Boost Cashless, In-Person Fundraising!  

4. Sell special concessions during shows

If you already serve concessions during your shows—think popcorn, sodas, candy—then why not try to come up with something really special to make some extra money?

Does a member of your club have a penchant for baking exotic, new cookie recipes? Ask them to make some for your concession stand!

Pro tip: Partner with a local business like a bakery or a restaurant to see if they’re willing to donate some treats. Alternatively, they can also set up their own stand at your shows and designate a portion of their profits to your club. This way you build fruitful relationships within the community and benefit each other.

Providing special concessions options gives your audience the chance to try something new while still supporting your drama club with some extra funds. 

5. Start a sneaker drive

Sneakers don’t have much to do with drama, but they are an excellent way to fundraise for your drama club!

GotSneakers is a sneaker recycling program that pays you for the sneakers you collect. Every sneaker GotSneakers receives is either reused by people who need quality footwear or recycled into playground surfaces, tracks, and more.

All you have to do to get started is sign up for a free fundraising kit that includes a collection bag. Then you spread the word about your drive—get your friends, family, and community involved!—and mail your collected sneakers back to GotSneakers. You’ll get your funds on the 15th of the month after you send your haul in.

This can be an amazing way to engage your audience apart from a show. When people see you’re raising funds for your club by helping the world in return, they’ll be more likely to remember you. It means more audience and a lasting impression for your club! 

6. Collaborate with local restaurants for a day

Many restaurants like to give back to the community by hosting special events where a percentage of their sales for one day or night benefits one cause, organization, or group.

This is a fun way to get the community together to help support your campaign. Make it an event on social media! Encourage your friends and family to go to that restaurant—or order takeout—the night of the event.

Promote the event well in advance. Let your community know how it helps the club and their favorite theatre group. Share stories on your social media handles. You can also talk about what ways your club plans to use the funds. Transparency and a heartwarming story go a long way!

In addition, share words of appreciation for the restaurants involved. It should be a win-win for both of you. When you move people with your kindness for each other, funds will roll in. 

7. Let your audience quickly text to donate

Not a lot of people carry cash these days, so collecting in-person contributions can be tricky. Especially for a smaller organization or club like your drama club.

One thing most people do have in their pockets, though? Their smartphone!

Text-to-give is a great way for people to support your drama club quickly and securely. Donorbox makes things easy. All you need to do is set up a campaign, select one of our two available text-to-give plans, and enable the text-to-give feature. You’ll get a campaign ID and a texting number in return. Then as your audience texts the ID to the number, they’ll receive a link to your mobile-friendly campaign page to make quick donations. Our short code plan gives you a shorter number (801801) and a custom keyword for a specific campaign.

This is what it looks like for your supporters:

drama club ideas for high school

Text-to-give is a great way to raise funds before or after the shows. You can talk about how it works, share the ID and number with your audience. Also, include it in your playbill for easy access while your audience waits for your show to start. This way, they can any time initiate the process with just a simple text.

Remember if you want them to repeat their donation during the future shows, it’ll be even quicker – with no donation forms involved! Donorbox repeat donation feature ensures that. 

8. Host a silent auction

A silent auction is a great way to get some extra funds for your drama club. People who regularly come to watch your shows can be fans of your artists and actors. You can definitely auction experiences such as meeting them in person or spending time with them.

Whether you host your auction online or in person, be sure to let people review the items ahead of time so they can decide what they’d like to bid on. One way to do that is by uploading sneak previews on social media. It will also build momentum around the event well in advance.

Some items to consider adding to your auction include:

  • A playbill signed by everyone in your drama club
  • Season tickets to all your shows
  • VIP experiences that include meeting the cast, bringing friends, and luxury concessions items

You can go beyond anything theater-related, too! Ask the members of your club to think about what they have lying around that they don’t need anymore. The jewelry they no longer wear? Luxury items that are in good condition? You might even auction off classes and other kinds of special experiences based on your drama club members’ talents and interests.

Pro tip: Whatever you add to your auction, just be sure it’s low cost (or no cost!) to you so you make a profit on whatever you end up selling. You should advertise your auction far and wide so you get the most interest. After all, the sign of a successful auction is when there are multiple bidders for one item! 

9. Have a raffle during your next performance

When you have an audience in attendance at one of your shows, you already have a great pool of potential donors. You know they’re interested in what you’re doing and would likely want to help you meet your fundraising goal for your next show, so give them an opportunity to do so—and maybe win something of their own, too!

You can choose to put together a gift basket to raffle off (think coupons to local restaurants and businesses, some fun swag, other small gifts). You can also do something called a 50/50 raffle where you and the winner of the raffle split the proceeds.

Be sure to charge enough per raffle ticket to cover any expenses of the gift basket.

Check out 10 fundraising raffle ideas here.

10. Sell singing telegrams

One thing to keep in mind as you consider fundraising options for your drama club is your set of unique talents. Do you have members with amazing singing voices and a solid stage presence? Then you have the tools you need to sell singing telegrams!

A singing telegram is a kind of special gift your supporters will purchase for their friends and family. You’ll coordinate and send members of your club to the recipient’s home, work, or other locales to perform a short song. It’s really fun all around—and a great way to raise funds!

Some telegram ideas you can advertise include:

  • Happy birthday gram. Sing the classic song or even take a request of one of the recipient’s favorites (just be sure to rehearse!).
  • Valentine’s Day gram. Consider getting one of your members to dress up like a cupid and sell an add-on of a dozen roses to be delivered with your singing telegram.
  • Holiday gram. Sing carols and dress in old-timey costumes, if you have any handy. Otherwise tacky sweaters are always a winning wardrobe choice.
  • Summertime gram. Dress in tacky swim attire and prepare an arrangement of summer favorites to dazzle each recipient.

Get creative and have fun! You can advertise your various singing telegram offerings in your playbill as well.

Pro tip: As you send your members to recipients, make sure to equip them with an easy-to-carry donation kiosk. Donorbox Live™ Kiosk turns your iPad or Android tablet – paired with a card reader device – into a donation kiosk. This ensures that if or when your happy recipients want to support your club, you have a quick and simple way to make that happen.

Sign Up for Donorbox Live™ Kiosk  

11. Crowdfund a show for your club

One of the best ways to fundraise these days is to be direct and ask for funds through an online crowdfunding campaign. By sharing your campaign on social media, you can use social proof to generate more funds for your drama club.

Start your campaign by:

Choosing a crowdfunding platform. This will be the technology that handles every step of your campaign—hosting your unique page, safely collecting donations, and managing your acknowledgment emails.

Crafting your campaign story. Crowdfunding works best when you’re trying to fund a specific cause or activity. So in your case, consider using crowdfunding to fund a certain show. You’ll want to fully explain what you need funds for (script rights, prop budget, set materials, etc.) and set a reasonable goal that your audience feels is possible for you to reach.

Spreading the word! Post on your club’s social media and ask all your members to share far and wide. Try to keep the momentum going by posting about it regularly and adding updates to your crowdfunding page.

Higher Vibrations Collective creates and produces art by seeking to challenge the limiting thoughts about society. Through their crowdfunding campaign, they raised funds for their drama digital program in 2020. It’s a simple fundraising page with a popup donate button that opens up the donation form. There are social media buttons, an ‘updates’ tab to add updates of the program, and a donor appreciation wall. A campaign like this can be the easiest and most effective way for you to crowdfund your shows.

fundraising ideas for theatre groups

12. Run a summer camp

Every year, parents are looking for new and exciting camps to send their children to for parts of the summer. You can take advantage of this by offering an exciting acting camp for kids!

To start a camp, you’ll need to establish a few things first:

  1. Where will you host the camp? Do you have a theater space, a school cafeteria, or another option you can rent?
  2. What’s your budget? Keep an eye on your potential expenses so you know what you need to charge per camper and how many minimum campers you need.
  3. What will your activities be? For most acting camps, the goal is to end the camp with a performance so parents and family can see what the campers learned!

Once you have some basics established, you can make your idea to start a camp a reality and start earning some extra funds for your drama club—and getting the word out about your own performances!

Final Thoughts

Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde? Steven Sondheim or Lin-Manuel Miranda? These are tough choices. Deciding on the best and easiest way to fundraise for your drama club? Not as tough.

Whether you want to try selling something special and new or simply encouraging donations, be sure to keep your special, unique talents in mind and make the most out of your fundraising situation.

When it comes to collecting donations, Donorbox helps organizations and clubs of any size get started with meaningful, significant fundraising. We also offer tons of help along the way so you never feel alone.

Whatever fundraising idea you decide to try, go break a leg!

For more fundraising ideas, check out the rest of our nonprofit blog.

Lindsey Baker

Lindsey Baker Bower is a writer, educator, and nonprofit professional. She has years of experience helping arts nonprofits with their fundraising messaging and strategy. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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