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Fundraising Idea of the Month:
Trivia Nights

by Doug Nash

Trivia nights can be a whole lot of fun. They require a little more in the way of organising, however this is repaid by lots of laughs and fun on the night. A great feature of trivia nights is that there is no set ways, no hard and fast rules that to be followed, trivia nights are as flexible as your imagination and situation. To help you I have written about different features you can use, in any order or combination. These segments might trigger a few unique features of your own that you choose to use.


Basically there should be about six tables with six people making up the teams. There can be teams competitions and individual competitions. Aiming for this and having fees paid in advance gives you a starting point of $216, six dollars per person entrance fee. This will help in you be able to pay for hall hire, if necessary, and buying food and drinks for the night without outlaying your own funds. A nice way to minimise the financial risk. The food and drinks will also go towards a final profit for the night. Whether or not you provide a meal or simply snacks during the night is for you to chose, depending on your expertise and available help. Consider carefully how many breaks you will have, when you have them and for how long they will last. Breaks are good for the participants and also can be used to the advantage of the hosts, for checking totals, summing up on how the night is going, making adjustments to proceedings etc.

Having around 36 competitors is a number that is fairly easy to handle and won't make the night too long. There is no way to set an exact time it takes, as this will depend on how fun you are having. A trivia night is primarily about having fun, not finding the person who holds the most trivia in their heads.

There can be two competitions running simultaneously during the night, teams and individual. Points accumulate during the night to determine eventual winners. Here you can add intrigue by not displaying the progress totals, waiting until the end of the night to announce the winners or alternatively show progressive totals for most of the night then have say play the last two rounds with the progressive totals being shown.


Extras are options you can use to up the fun factor and boost income for the night.

  • Player cards: a dollar a card, limit two per player.

  • Written quiz sheet: a dollar per team member to gain the chance of extra points.

  • Picture puzzles: if picture puzzles are to be used during the night, you may offer teams a chance to get an early glimpse, there is no set price for this advantage, you leave it up to the team to decide how much they are willing to pay for the advantage of an early peek or extra clue.

  • Points: hardly seems fair but you may want to offer a certain amount of points to start the team's tally. The points rise in price as the night progresses. The amount you charge is directly related as to how you award points in the games you play. Another twist is to charge an extra fee not to disclose whether or not a team has availed themselves of this advantage until the end of the night., certainly can add suspense to the proceedings, especially if the MC constantly refers to this extra Can also add a boost to the income for the night.

  • Terminology for these cards can be changed to add relevance or humour.


Player cards are used to up the points on offer or to enlist help from other players to garner points. Here are three options for player cards. First is the "d'oh" cards. These cards are used when the person answering the question has no idea of the answer. With a d'oh card he can put the question to all, if the question is answered both the card player and the person or team who answers the question correctly get the points on offer. The second card is the booster card: this cards is played by a team or individual when a set of related questions announced. If the the team or individual is confident they will do well in this category they play the booster card. The booster card can work in two ways. First if no points are deducted for wrong answers then as well as doubling the points for right answers points will be deducted for wrong answers if the booster card is played. If points are deducted for wrong answers anyway then simply double points added or deducted. A third option card is the stumper ( one per team or player). This card lets a player or team present a question of there own to all other competitors. A predetermined amount of point are allocated to the presenters if they stump the others and the question is unanswered. These points go to the person or teams that correctly answer the question. All stumper questions must be submitted for approval at the beginning of the night. When these cards can be played are up to the organisers.


Written sheets of questions can be bought to add to either team or individual scores. they should be available at most breaks. The are to be completed at the table of the competitor and handed in for marking and points at a specified time during the night. Be careful with these questions, make sure that there is only one answer to ensure there are no complaints later. There are no restrictions on who actually answers the questions. if the answer is correct and the competitor was clever enough to get someone else to answer it, points are awarded. remember this is a fun night, not to be taken too seriously so laws applying to TV game shows are not to be rigidly enforced.


To add a bit atmosphere to night or add a bit of spice to your promotions choose a theme for the night and ask people to dress in the theme for the night. You may even consider awarding points for best and worst dressed or deducting points or fining those who do not come dressed in theme. Themes can be based on movies, movie stars, popular TV shows or a local theme. Anything really. dress up themes can really add to the mood and atmosphere of the night.


There are many ways of determining winners. The two easiest is either the first to answers a question or a number in all categories, or the most by a certain time, wins. the second is the team or individual player to accumulate the most points after all rounds are played wins. The strong suggestion is to keep it simple as possible so all know exactly how winners are determined before the the games start.


No doubt that a lot rides on the questions prepared and how they are presented. This is the real time consuming part of the whole activity, so get as many volunteers as you can to help prepare and check questions and answers. Before setting on the quest to compile this list, finalize how many sections you will have, how many questions will be in each section and what those sections will be. group questions in groups like:

  • WORDS either meaning or spelling
  • TV trivia
  • or anything that grabs your fancy.


Like all other non-profit fundraisers, it is best to try and have trophies and awards donated. however if this is not the case then really awesome looking certificates can be printed up on home computers or bought inexpensively at some computer or photographic shops. To try to maximise profits with donated prizes try to get a local business to sponsor the night. Attract a sponsor by offering to have their name prominently on all promotional material and prominently displayed on the night.

So there you have a few simple ideas on a trivia night. Simple easy and a lot of fun. If you are a first timer then ask around and see if you can acquire the services of someone who has hosted a trivia night or other similar events to help out. Sometimes it is w9orth there expense to pay such a person, especially if you are considering of having more than one, if the first one goes well the the other s that follow will be better attended. Like all fundraisers, the better the preparation the better the chances of you having an enjoyable and profitable night.


    About the Author: Doug Nash lives in Logan City in Queensland, Australia. He has graciously consented to share a fundraising idea with us every month. Although many of the ideas aren't new, each of them has a unique flair that comes from being developed and refined half a world away from ours. Visit his web site at for more fundraising ideas.

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