Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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June 22, 2017

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Mystery Dinner Theater Fundraiser

by Kimberly Reynolds



A murder mystery dinner theater fundraiser is a fun way to raise funds. Here's how to host a murder mystery as a fundraising event. First, you need a location and that choice is critical to your success.

Your location must combine good food with exclusive use of the facility because your theater performance takes place in acts divided by dinner courses. You don't want other restaurant patrons coming and going during the critical scenes, so it's best to book a reserved dining room at an inn or a large restaurant.

Make sure the room seats a large enough crowd to actually produce a good profit. Negotiate a flat group rate that includes dinner and dessert. Check and see if there are deals that include wine with dinner or if there's a corkage fee if they bring their own bottle.

Theater Event Ticket Pricing

A basic rule of thumb is to set the ticket prices at double the cost. For example, if the group dining rate including meal is $25, then price your tickets at $50. Don't forget to include other costs such as script or performance charges.

If you include other fundraising activities, then you can reduce your ticket markup and keep prices lower. That, in turn, may be what helps you sell out your event, so keep supply and demand in mind when setting your prices.

Murder Mystery Performance

Some groups will have their own members perform the mystery script. Others prefer to work with a local theater group so that the performances are more professional and attendees are less likely to know the performers.

You can find mystery dinner theater scripts online for a reasonable price. It's also possible that the local theater group may already have a working script in-house that they have already performed.

Murder Mystery Profit Tips

Here are some ways to generate extra profits. Get items and services donated by local businesses and place them on tables for silent auction bids. Be sure to talk up the silent auction items as guests gather and remind everyone periodically to bid again by talking up the deals still to be had on great items.

Offer restaurant gift certificates that you've purchased at a discount. Many restaurants will sell a gift certificate at 20% off face value to qualifying fundraisers.

If the restaurant approves, you could offer a wine tasting along with dinner by working with a local wine merchant. Obviously, you would charge extra for the wine tasting and seat those people in one area. Work a fair deal with the merchant so that it's a win/win scenario.

Sponsorships are another way to raise funds. Sell sponsor ad spaces on your event menu or look for corporate contributions to help offset costs. Some groups raise in excess of $25,000 with their mystery dinner theater performances.

Mystery Dinner Theater Wrap-up

This fun fundraising event offers couples a great night out on the town complete with dinner and entertainment. Contract for a group rate at a local inn or restaurant with a large reserved dining room. Work with a local theater group for script and performers.

Add extra value through a fundraising auction or silent auction of donated items. If the restaurant allows, you can also offer a wine tasting or whiskey tasting to raise even more funds.

Plan ahead and make your Mystery Dinner Theater a truly enjoyable fundraising event.



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About the Author:

Kimberly Reynolds writes for national publications on fund raising topics such as church fundraisers, how to host a mystery dinner theater fundraiser and other nonprofit fundraising events. Find more school fundraisers on her website, FundraiserHelp.com







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