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Fundraising: Fundraising events

Dear Listers,

Earlier this week I wrote:

"We are interested in learning about new and innovative fund-raising ideas
community choruses. Over the years we have tried auctions, barn sales, and
raffles with mixed success.

If you have found an event that has worked particularly well, we would like
to hear about it. I will be more than happy to share all ideas with the
list. "

Many thanks for your suggestions on fund-raising events. Here are the

Roger Wilhelm
Rochester Oratorio Society

I have not done it, and I suppose it depends on the community, but a friend

does a "pig roast" and has earned over $4000 profit for his high school

choral program. They serve potato salad, rolls, and the pulled pork.

Bob Boyd

Lyons Township High School

La Grange, IL


Break up into quartets and do singing valentines... or hire yourselves out

for Xmas parties...

Paul Sinasohn

Founding Director, BankAmerica Singers

Baritone/Manager, Vocal Interchange

pauls AT commerceroute DOT com


My former HS choir position, the parents association (booster group) runs a
weekly bingo - earns between $4-6,000 per week!! It was the best money maker
ever - my last year there we made over $200,000!!!! EASY MONEY!

Hope this helps!

James D. Moyer
Director of Choral Music
Pennsbury High School
705 Hood Blvd.
Fairless Hills, PA 19030
215-949-3896 fax


Last spring our 33-year-old chorus of 70 had its first-ever silent
auction as part of a benefit evening that included dinner and a concert. We
netted a minimum of several thousand dollars (I don't have the exact figure
in front of me). We offered about 40 items. The item categories and some
specific examples: entertainment (concert and theater tickets or private
performance gigs); getaways (weekends or mini-vacations at members' second
homes); food (home-cooked meals or restaurant offerings); house beautiful
(handcrafts and jewelry, afghans, leather goods); and personal services
(gift-wrapping, knitting lessons, college counseling; and childcare).
Items were attractively displayed with convenient signup sheets for
bidders. Bidding took place throughout the evening, with a preannounced
cutoff time and regular reminders during the evening of some of the items
available. Minimum bids were listed for all items.
This may not be something a chorus could handle every year, but when
they're done right, silent auctions seem to be a guaranteed moneymaker.

Scott Gillam (scott_gillam(a)
New Amsterdam Singers (
Check out our on-line choral rental catalogue: +450 pieces!
"Musica divina laudis celebrari" (old proverb)


You might try a casino night, possibly in conjunction with an auction. These
are organized through an outfit that specializes in such things and has
specific plans that suit individual organizations. It might take a while for
it to catch on, but we tried it and it was a lot of fun. Picked up about
$4000 the first time out, and expect it to do much better next year. (In
Virginia these things are as legal for groups like ours as church bingo is,
even tho gambling is not). All winnings go to the group, and the players are
actually contributing through the purchase of chips. Check with the friendly
Casino Night organizer in your area.

Fred Wygal


Have you tried reading a book on non-profit adminstration? They
mostly agree that "events" are generally wastes of time. The best way
to raise money for a non-profit (assuming you are one) is to go out
and ask people directly to give.

Allen H Simon
Soli Deo Gloria


Ours has experimented with raffling off the services of Christmas carolers,
with moderate success. Could also be done on Valentine's Day and other
"Hallmark" days of the year. One of the nearby men's barbershop choruses
has been EXTREMELY successful with this idea, sending out anything from
quartets to 10-tets. It also builds very good will for the ensemble.


John & Susie Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034


I'd like to share with you what my choir is doing. We are travelling to
the states in june 2001 and have started fundraising.
We use sertain kind of shampoo, toothpaste, bodysoap and vitamins, and
buy them wholesale and so the choir gets the profit.
If you'd like to know more, contact me privatly.
Of course we're doing other things as well, but they might work here in
Iceland, but I'm not sure if they work anywhere else.
But if you write back, I can tell you more if you like.
Groa Hreinsdottir,


The ideas that have worked best for us are ...

Dinner and Silent Auction. Of course a theme and cuisine (not to mention the
location) is very important. We found Russian, Italian and Greek worked well
-- German didn't. Also you need to get some reasonably valuable items to bid
on. Typically, our $40 ticket covered the cost of location, food,
advertising, and printing. The Auction brought in about $6,000 to $8,000
annually. The added benefit is that you got to meet your most loyal donors
in a social way, and have them buy in to your goals as a group.

I know a local group that does a "Chili Cookoff" and auction as their

Good luck.

Alexander Ruggieri
PAsadena Classical Singers


The Battle Creek Boychoir and Girls' Chorus do three fundraisers a year:
(1)Christmas grens (wreaths and garland-by-the-foot) in the fall. Made
locally and very good quality. After 20 years or so, there is a ready
audience built up.
(2)Superbowl Sub Sandwiches. Orders taken in January. Subs assembled by us
on Sat before the game, delivered fresh to customers' doors. Includes
meat/cheese/white or wheat bread. No veggies, thus freezable. Food obtained
at cost from wholesaler. MUST observe scrupulous cleanliness standards.
Lots of work, high profit.
(3)Annual flowers, bedding plants, hanging baskets in the spring. From a
local and very good supplier. again, people wait for these.
I'm sure there are better idas than these, and we'd like to hear about
them. These have, however, worked reliably for us. One person is overall
chair of each sale, and all monies go through our books for auditing.

Brooks Grantier, The Battle Creek Boychoir, Battle Creek, MI

on October 6, 2004 10:00pm
I just began a Madrigal Dinner Tradition at my high school. We sold out our first year and now will do 2 shows this year. We easily made $4,000.00 in one night. It is a lot of work leading up to it, but it is well worth and a great way to get your community to see the kids' hard work. The best thing about it is that you are making money doing what you love.
John Pickering
Director of Choral Activities
Cuyahoga Falls High School
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
on July 16, 2011 3:33pm
As somebody with a background in arts non-profits, I couldn't disagree more about the statement that "events are generally wastes of time."  Far from it!  Especially in the arts, prominent fundraising events are the bread and butter of many organizations!  To the contrary, asking for donations is usually more problematic than most people realize - relationships with wealthy donors need to be cultivated, the different levels of donation incentives need to be managed, the donors need to be acknowledged in the right ways, thanked with official letters, etc., the taxes need to be figured in the right way, etc.  At least if you want to get substantial donations - more than just ten or twenty dollars from a few people on the way out of the concert - it's just as much legwork as putting on a dinner show and silent auction - and not nearly as much fun.
The recommendation about reading some good books on non-profit management is spot on, though.  Especially in these times of budget cuts in most parts of the country, the successful choir program depends upon vigorous and effective fundraising efforts.