Fall weather welcomes back so many activities, from sipping on pumpkin spice lattes to taking leisurely strolls and viewing the foliage. What you may not associate with fall, however, is fundraising … but you should! 

There are various ways to harness the renewed energy fall brings into unique, lucrative fundraising events. On The Stage explores nine such efforts you should add to your roster. 

Back-To-School Gatherings

Whether you’re a school-based program or involve kids from area institutions, utilizing back-to-school enthusiasm for your fundraising efforts is an easy and fun way to earn some capital. 

Back-to-school gatherings can look like a lot of things, including:

  • Fall movie nights – Hook up your projector and watch a beloved Halloween/fall-centric film. Sell concessions and admission tickets to earn some capital. 
  • Trivia nights – Host trivia nights for the parents of students in your program or just for interested patrons. Sell space by the table or chair and offer the option to purchase drinks and food, too. Pro tip: Buddy up with a sponsor or community partner so your prizes are as tempting as possible. 
  • Painting nights – Buy some paint and canvases and invite patrons, students, and parents to come and get creative! Sell tickets, along with additional art supplies, food, and drinks. 
  • Harvest or potluck dinners – Invite your patrons to a shared dinner to discuss the upcoming season. Provide dinner or encourage everyone to bring a dish, and prepare talking points to persuade donors to open their pocketbooks. 

Bake Sales

Perhaps one of the most low-maintenance fundraisers, a bake sale is the perfect way to get all your students/actors/crew members involved and raise some money with very little overhead. 

Set up a booth or table in front of your theatre or inside, and display the many goodies your team has created. Make sure to highly publicize the event and tease a few of the most tempting dishes on your social media. A few fall-centric dishes that may appeal to the masses include pie, pumpkin bread, pear crisp, apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, pot pies, caramel apple cookies, tarts, and cranberry brie bites. You’ll be sure to sell out in no time! 

Fall Festivals

A fall festival, while a good bit of work, will pay dividends if you prepare far enough in advance. After all, a dynamic festival has a variety of opportunities to rake in extra income. Host your festival alongside a sponsor or community partner, and ensure you’re utilizing your network of contacts to get free materials or trades. Charge an admission fee, as well as fees for food, drinks, and bonus activities. A few ideas to include in your fall festival include: 

  • Hayrides 
  • Pumpkin patches
  • Corn mazes 
  • Outdoor games, like bocce ball, relay races, and sack races 
  • Bonfires
  • Concessions
  • Face-painting 

Haunted Houses

A haunted house has various benefits: not only will you make some money and keep things festive, but you’re also letting your team get creative and have some fun. 

A haunted house grants you the opportunity to:

  • Stretch your acting muscles – Gather your team and discuss the backstory behind your haunted house. What characters will the house harbor? Why are they there? How will they interact with guests? How can they be scary to guests aside from jump scares? 
  • Get inventive with costumes – If you have a costume team, this is their time to shine. After fleshing out some characters, you’ll have a ball repurposing costumes for your spooky specimens. 
  • Practice make-up – The sky’s the limit for make-up for haunted houses! Let your team experiment. 
  • Work on lighting, sound, and props – A haunted house is nothing without excellent visuals and sound. Your crew will likely have a blast creating the perfect cues and props to get the biggest scares. 

Make sure to sell tickets at a price that reflects the work and money you’ve put into the project. You don’t just want to break even on something like this! Consider a ‘fast pass’ for patrons who want to skip the line.

Walk or Bike-A-Thons

Fall is the perfect opportunity to take your fundraising to the great outdoors. Host a walk-a-thon, marathon, or bike-a-thon to raise money for your programming.

This is another great opportunity to tap community partners and sponsors. They can help mitigate the cost, and in turn, you can include their logos on merchandising and marketing efforts. 

Pro tip: Be sure to get a headstart on major events like this. Plan enough time out to promote your event, secure a space, get the necessary permits, order your prizes, recruit volunteers, and order the appropriate merchandise. 


No, we’re not done talking about food! Cook-offs are another great fundraising opportunity that thrives in the cooler months. 

The type of food you choose to center on can be anything with a passionate following. Chili, pies, and cookies are all popular dishes in the fall. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your patrons, followers, donors, or community members to weigh in on what, exactly, everyone should create during the cook-off. 

The wider the net you cast for participants, the better. Tap local businesses and restaurants to see if chefs and owners want to participate. Make the competition fierce! Then, piggyback off their followings to get more people involved! You should also invite community leaders, parents, students, and anyone else who may be a closet cook to join the fray. 

Make sure to have rules established in advance, as well as a firm judging rubric. To ensure everyone gets a chance to shine, create more than just first, second, and third – like people’s choice or most inventive. And since your participants will be bringing their own materials, charge an entry fee for observers, as well as a registration fee to anyone who wants to participate. 

Pie Eating Contests

Last one about food, we promise! But pie-eating content is another great way to get community partners involved.

Local bakeries can donate pies in exchange for publicity in marketing efforts, print promotions, online fundraising pages, and merchandise. You can recruit someone from your theatre to act as an emcee and ask participants to start a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign or donate a minimum gift amount for entry.


Why not raise some money and help out the environment – and your neighbors – too?

This fundraiser requires very little overhead, just willing volunteers, some rakes, and some trash bags. Have your team of enthusiastic volunteers go door-to-door, asking for a suggested donation in exchange for raking the yard. 

If you want to plan ahead, utilize your theatre or show website to encourage online donations – this allows you to collect capital ahead of time and organize your list of lawns to rake.

Pumpkin Carving Contests

It’s not fall without pumpkins! A pumpkin carving content combines creativity and precision for a fun festival and lucrative fundraiser. 

For your pumpkin-carving contest, you could encourage or require attendees to contribute a registration fee or commit to a fundraising minimum to earn their spot in the competition. As for acquiring the pumpkins, partner with local farmers or pumpkin patches – or ask guests to bring their own. 

Sell concessions, merchandise, and even the winning pumpkins themselves!

How On The Stage Can Help

Whether you need help planning your next fundraiser, reaching more patrons, managing your donors, or streamlining your marketing, On The Stage can help with it all.

With a comprehensive suite of tools, the experts at OTS have what you need to truly elevate your theatre experience. Get started today by booking a personalized demo

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