Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fundraiser Ideas for Halloween

photos by Dianne Smith

October is a very effective month for raising revenues because of the popularity of Halloween. Children love to dress up, and parents love to indulge them during this holiday.

Non-Profit Fundraising Ideas

Many families turn the purchase of their Halloween pumpkin into a family event, similar to buying a Christmas tree in December. Children run through the pumpkin patch with delight as they search for their favorite pumpkin.

Bales of hay, pumpkins and gourds can be bought wholesale from a local farm and then placed in a parking lot or field for a charity fundraiser. Scarecrows with pumpkin heads can be perched at strategic spots and if there is a lot of hay, a pyramid stack or maze can be laid out. Hay can also be stacked as a wall resembling a castle front for added interest, and a horse drawn wagon can take people on hayrides. A table covered with an orange tablecloth can be set up to sell apple cider, gourds, caramel apples, popcorn, trick or treat bags and even Halloween costumes for additional sources of revenue.

Fundraisers Featuring a Haunted House

Candlelighters, a non-profit in Fremont, California, uses a haunted house as their sole fundraising method to earn well over $50,000 every October. Their haunted house is open only three weekends leading up to Halloween, and is phenomenally successful. They award and distribute the proceeds to dozens of grateful local charities throughout the rest of the year.

Candlelighters' Haunted House in Fremont, California

With a large creepy house and lots of volunteers, a haunted house can be created for an excellent fundraiser. A twisted tree in the yard is a plus! Giant spiders, spider webs or a hangman's noose can be hung from its branches. Workers can dress in witch, vampire or ghost costumes while they sell tickets to the crowd and show people where to go.

Black curtains can hang in the doorways of the house for people to walk through. Each room should have a different setting, such as a graveyard, funeral parlor, seer's home with a crystal ball and tarot cards, bat cave, murder scene, wolf's den, torture chamber, guillotine room, prison, mummy room, skeleton closet, three witches stirring a black cauldron with dry ice in it, and if possible, a ghost ship theme where visitors can be made to walk the plank.

Version 2 of 234 x 60 Pixels

Strobe lights, audios of cackling witches and other special effects like doors slamming, dropping spiders, and ghosts popping up add to the scary atmosphere. Visitors can be blindfolded, and led to put their hands in a bowl of "eyeballs," which are skinned grapes, or "dead man's guts," made from warm, wet spaghetti noodles and squished tomatoes.

Fundraiser Ideas

A carnival is another fundraiser that requires lots of volunteers but the results can be very rewarding. They take several months to a year ahead to plan and advertise for. Organizations like schools can turn their gym or each classroom and hallway area into a game room, each decorated with orange and black crepe paper and balloons.

Caramel Apples

Halloween Carnival Fundraiser

Cake walks, clothes pin drop into jars, tug-of-war, ball throwing into a barrel, horseshoe toss and musical chairs are just a few of the games that can be set up. Obstacle courses, relay races, face painting, raffles for big and small prizes, giant slides, bingo, bowling, bocce ball, ring toss, a silent auction and paint ball are other ideas.

Small children can go on an expedition with a costumed Dora the Explorer, and time can also be set aside for a live auction selling donated items from local businesses. Individuals can donate things like a stay at a vacation home or a coupon for a service like housecleaning or yard work.

Concessions also provide a lot of revenue, more so when the food is donated. Many grocery stores will donate yesterday's baked goods to charities when they first open their doors. If a volunteer is willing to go and ask the grocery store managers early in the morning on the day of the carnival, doughnuts and cookies will probably be donated. The month of October can be an especially lucrative time for charities that need to raise funds if they take the time to plan a Halloween-themed fundraiser.

Read more: Candlelighters Halloween Fundraiser in Fremont, California

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