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Fundraising Idea of the Month:
Movie Nights

by Doug Nash

Going to the movies has really become a popular pastime again in the last few years. This is great news for fundraisers as it means that you could raise funds for a weekend activity and have a lot of fun doing it.

This an activity that can appeal to a wider audience than just your member base. The more you can appeal to those outside your member base then better for your financial bottom line. Also you may attract some new members form such nights.

The idea is not to compete with the cinemas head on, rather to fill a niche between the cinemas and watching videos at home. Sometimes watching videos at lacks the numbers to build an atmosphere and at the movies you limited in what you can do to participate with the film. To combine the two for a great outcome you run your own niche theatre where patrons can boo the bad guys and cheer the good guys.

The way to do this is to show theme movies like Starwars, Startrek, Diehard, Airport etc, cult films like Bladerunner or Rocky Horror Picture Show or concentrate on movies starring a particular actor.

For example take the cult movie Rocky horror Picture show. This a movie where attendees like to dress up and really get involved by singing all the songs or acting out certain scenes. This is a venue for those people who like not to just sit and watch but really get involved with the movie. All who attend know what to expect as this kind of proactive viewing has been happening for a long long time in regard to this movie. What you are doing is raising money by facilitating a time and place that otherwise would not exist. If this is not your choice then follow the just as good alternative of showing movies featuring a particular 'star' like John Wayne, Bruce Lee or Dirk Bogarde

This an activity that be enjoyed on a monthly basis to quarterly or half yearly basis The idea is to show popular films that are you are only able to see on video. You do this by renting a hall (or having the premises donated) and a video projector and the desired videos videos. A hint to success is to use videos that are owned by the people who will be in the audience.

Ask around your area to find out which movies have the most appeal, than advertise what you are doing.

You add to your fundraising by providing the drinks and popcorn, or any other niknaks that might seem appropriate.

Editor's note: Any showing of a film for profit (including your nonprofit organization's profit) will put you in violation of copyright laws. To book a film for public showing, you must contact an independent film broker who will get you the film, charge a fee for the process and report your box office receipts to the owner of the film. The broker will then take a percentage of the box office (royalty) for the film's owner.

The easiest way to show a film is to arrange it through a local movie theater and have them take care of all the details.

For more information contact these independent film brokers or your local movie theaters:

  • Kit Parker Films - shorts, serials, and old features. RKO, Janus, indies, others.
  • Swank Motion Pictures - Paramount, Buena Vista/Disney/Touchstone, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony/Columbia/Tristar/Triumph, MGM/UA, Miramax, Live Entertainment
  • Criterion Pictures - 20th Century, New Line/Fine Line Features
  • October Films - arthouse and indie distributor

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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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