How to have successful Fundraiser/Concession Sales

We have been selling show-coordinated fundraisers/concessions for 10 years and have served literally thousands of clients.  To be most successful, here’s what they say:

  1. Assign someone other than the creative team to be in charge of the sales.  Inevitably when we inquire about disappointing sales, it was because the show’s director was in charge of the fundraiser but ended up being pulled in so many directions and when push came to shove– the fundraiser got pushed and shoved– or got left in the closet in the foyer.  So get some go-getter parents, students or other teachers to pour their hearts into this.
  2. Determine when/how you think you will sell the items.                                        At the performances only? Or will you do any presales?
    1. A couple of weeks before the performances to generate hype about the show within the school and the community?
    2.  Is there another event/holiday that you could sell the fundraisers at?
    3. Are you performing a portion of your production at a student assembly?  For the local grade school?  Even if you can’t sell at these pre-shows, can you wear your fundraiser?  Or show it off and say “you can buy one of these at our performances for only $5” ?
    4. Can you sell or donate a one of the items to your local retail stores and have them wear them or put them at the counter to generate hype for your show?
    5. If you are sending press releases to the local paper, also include a fundraiser.
    6. If you are are requesting that a local business help underwrite aspects of your production, send a fundraiser item with the request letter or with your thank you note.
    7. Lots of opportunity, isn’t there?
  3. Determine how many you think you will sell.                                                     This is difficult to predict, as there are many factors that go into this.  How much early hype have you generated for the fundraisers?  Do you pre-sale plans?  How much hype has been generated for the show, in general?  What do you predict your audiences to be?  We see our clients typically selling 10 – 15% of their audience;  however, it certainly depends on the planning and the hype before the performances AND at the the performances.
  4. How to sell AT THE PERFORMANCES    
    1. Set up “Fundraiser Central” on tables in the lobby to greet patrons as they come in.  Have BIG signs.  Have a few  opened items.  (Do not go crazy and open every item as you can not return opened items!!!
    2. If the items are wearable, have the folks at Fundraiser Central wear them, have the ushers wear them, have the crew who might be visible wear them, etc.
    3. Get some students to walk the aisles pre-show and during intermission selling the fundraisers from baskets.  If the students can be in costume (maybe the “villagers” from the show), that is even better!!!  If the items are wearable, have the students in the aisles wear them.  Do not miss an opportunity for a patron to see that there are fundraisers/concessions for sale.
    4. Sell the roses to family and friends for them to give to their favorite actors instead of live flowers
    5. To be really successful at the theatre….this is important…. the Director or designee needs to do a curtain speech before the performance explaining these three things:
      1. “If you didn’t already buy your Shrek ear headband before the show tonight, they will be on sale again during intermission in the lobby (and in the aisles?)
      2. Proceeds from these sales will be used for ……   (Patrons are more willing to part with their money if they know what it will be used for).
      3. (Only when appropriate, depending on the show)  The audience will have a chance be a part of the show in Act II when they ……..   (“turn on their magic wand to help bring Tink back to life” or “help create a technicolor finale by turning on their technicolor wands during the megamix of “Joseph” or “turn on their light-up roses during the beautiful “Who Will Buy” song” or …… you get the idea.  Not all of the fundraiser items can be participatory items, but if they can, the audience needs to know that so that they will be more likely to buy the item
      4. And, of course, the Director or designee needs to be wearing or carrying the item as they give the speech