Category Archives: Fundraising Advice

We act for money (or how to hire out your amateur dramatics group for murder mystery evenings)

13th September 2017

Once you’ve tried your hand at a couple (or more) of our scripts, the word tends to spread.

You’ll find your audience looking forward to your next murder mystery night, even asking you when it will be.

You’re not merely a group that performs hilarious pantomimes and entertaining plays. You now have another arrow in your theatrical quiver – your whodunnit events.

You could leave it at that, simply sharing your brilliant new fundraising scheme with your loyal audience.

Or, you could take it out into the wider world by hiring yourself out to perform murder mystery evenings for fundraising organisations such as parent and teacher associations or local charities.

The result will be not only extra funds but also a wonderful way to publicise your group.

It can even become a regular arrangement. One of our Yorkshire clients holds an annual murder mystery event for a local PTA, and have done for years.

If this sounds like the perfect opportunity for you, then we can help.

We hold a list of amateur dramatics group who hire themselves out to perform Murdering The Text plays. What’s more, this is an entirely free service, a gift from us to you.

We regularly publicise this list on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit the Amateur Dramatics Groups For Hire page on our website to find out which groups are using this service already.

If you’d like to join our list, drop me an email with the following details:

  • Group name
  • The geographical area you cover
  • Contact details
  • Group website

  • How does it work? Using a murder mystery play as a fundraiser

    21st August 2017

    It’s been twenty years since we wrote and performed our first murder mystery to raise funds for the amateur dramatics group we were part of back then, and I’ve seen the use of whodunnit events grow in popularity ever since.

    I’d love to say we started a trend but the murder mystery fundraiser phenomenon was already a thing, albeit much less popular and polished than today.

    Having customers throughout the UK, in Canada and the USA, and seeing as we’re just one of a community of worldwide murder mystery script providers and performers, I’d assumed that everyone understood what a murder mystery fundraiser event was.

    A recent comment proved me wrong though, when one lady was puzzled by our website because she didn’t know that a murder mystery play could be used as a fundraiser. She assumed that any theatrical production would be too expensive to be used in this way.

    This got me thinking. Am I presuming too much of visitors to our website, amateur dramatics groups and fundraisers that they would already know of the existence and effectiveness of murder mystery events?

    Perhaps an explanation is needed.

    What is a murder mystery fundraising event?

    There are generally two ways in which a murder mystery can be used as a fundraising event:

    1. The audience watch a murder mystery play. With the assistance of the compere, the audience questions the suspects and then deduces the identity of the guilty party.
    2. The actors (in character) mingle with the ‘audience’ at an event such as a party or dinner. A murder is staged and the audience carry out their own investigation to find the murderer.

    Our kind of murder mystery falls into the former of these two. We sell murder mystery play scripts, with accompanying information such as character histories, clue material and murderer sheets.

    The customer (amateur dramatics groups, PTA organisations, small charities) purchases our murder mystery pack and uses it to hold a murder mystery event to raise money for their group or cause.

    How can you make money from a Murdering The Text murder mystery event?

    Our murder mystery scripts are written to be low cost productions.

    Black curtains can be used as a backdrop rather than the normal scenery. Costumes can be drawn from your cast’s personal wardrobes or, in the case of an amateur dramatics group, created from your existing stock. Even the furniture and props are items that can be easily sourced at little or no expense.

    For information on how to source costumes for period productions, read our post Dressing It Up.

    Most of your income will be earned from ticket sales (the price will reflect whether the ticket covers the performance only or includes a buffet, bar or three course dinner) but you can also run a bar and hold a raffle for extra income.

    Prizes for your raffle and aspects of your production such as publicity, bar license or printing, could be gained through sponsorship by local businesses.

    For more information read our page, Ten reasons to hold a murder mystery event.

    10 ways to raise funds for your amateur dramatics group

    14th August 2017

    In an ideal world, amateur dramatics groups could exist on ticket sales, raffles, bar takings and membership fees.

    In the real world, most am dram groups have to raise extra funds outside their shows and productions.

    Murdering The Text was born from just such a need – bolstering the am dram coffers so that our group could continue to entertain our community.

    But beyond table top sales and selling off old stock, how do you raise those much needed funds?

    1. Hold a murder mystery evening

    This was always going to be number one on our list, but holding a regular murder mystery evening can be a great way to raise the money needed to stage your big productions like your yearly pantomime.

    For ten reasons why it could provide just the financial boost you need, click on this link.

    2. Bingo Night

    It used to be that bingo nights were for the ‘mature set’ but nowadays bingo attracts a vastly wider audience. In fact, it’s become quite fashionable and an event that regularly attracts hen parties.

    Add to the night’s entertainment with songs and sketches by group members, a comedy caller and a well-stocked drinks and refreshments supply, and you could be onto a winner.

    3. Carol Singing

    You don’t have to be religious to enjoy carol singing (or listening). Belting out ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’, with a fundraising bucket in hand, is sure to attract passers-by. You can hand out flyers too, for your next production or just to raise the visibility of your group.

    Reach out to your local shopping centres for a singing spot.

    Contact your council about a busking permit to take your carolling to the streets.

    Arrange with a local department store that is accommodating a Father Christmas grotto to entertain the waiting children.

    If you’re mid-pantomime rehearsals, have your Dame come along in a sparkly costume.

    4. Hire out your group for events

    Performing at your usual venue is ideal for attracting a local audience but travelling to different venues will open up your group to a whole new audience.

    You could hire your group out for murder mystery evenings (see our Groups for Hire page), sing, or perform potted pantomimes or one act plays.

    Clients could include:

    • fundraising organisations such as rotary clubs and PTAs
    • schools
    • local businesses
    • and shopping centres.

    5. Sponsorship

    Ok, so this is theoretically part of a production, but obtaining sponsorship from local businesses can not only provide you with an item that your group would normally have spent tons of money on (printing, website, timber and paint, bar supplies) but also create a useful link to your community.

    In return, your sponsor will be featured in all your publicity material and content, such as your programmes, news articles and website.

    6. Renting out your resources

    Most am dram groups will have built up an impressive collection of scenery, props, furniture, lighting and costumes, to name but a few.

    Many of these will only be put to work in the close run-up to and during a production. For the rest of the time, they sit in your storage doing nothing.

    Why not put them to use to earn the group some money?

    Approach other am dram groups and event organisers to see if they would be willing to rent an item from you.

    Advertise in local press or on am dram related websites such as amdram.co.uk

    Do remember to draw up a contract with whomever you rent your item to though.

    7. Appear at local events

    As with the carol singing above, why not take your group out into the community to perform at local events?

    These could be school fayres, village fetes, or local festivals.

    Don’t forget to take your fundraising bucket and your flyers though.

    This is also an excellent opportunity to publicise your group in the local press.

    8. Hold a charity auction

    Help a charity and your am dram group too by holding an auction.

    Approach your sponsors and businesses in your community for items to auction. Any of these who provide an item to auction will be listed in your auction programme.

    Add some additional entertainment such as songs or a murder mystery.

    Although the auction sale proceeds will go to the charity, the ticket sales and bar sales will go to your group. Plus, this is another opportunity to attract the local press.

    9. Offer drama or musical workshops

    If you have professionally trained members (musicians, vocal coaches, drama teachers, etc) then why not put their talents to work by holding a workshop?

    This could be for adults or children, and held at your usual venue or taken out into a local school or community centre.

    Not just great for fundraising, holding a workshop can create links with your local community and attract new members too.

    10. Fundraising shopping websites

    Have you heard about these? Here’s how it works.

    You register your am dram group with one of these websites, such as Easy Fundraising or Giving A Bit.

    You publicise this service through your website and social media to your audience and members.

    They shop with retailers online through this fundraising website.

    Their purchase goes through as normal but a percentage of what they spend goes directly to your group. Win win!

    Obviously, only some retailers are registered with these sites but they tend to be the bigger stores such as M&S, Morrisons, and Thomson Holidays.

    Fundraising doesn’t have to raise a groan amongst your group members whenever it crops up at a meeting. Turn it into a fun, social event for everyone and see your am dram group prosper.