A movie night fundraiser is a great way to get your school community together and to raise funds.

Here is how to run a successful movie night event at your primary or secondary school:

  1. Set your fundraising goals
  2. Select the type of event (indoor / outdoor, kids only / family / neighbourhood)
  3. Determine the size of the audience and select the venue
  4. Source the equipment
  5. Shortlist 2-3 movies
  6. Apply for movie licence
  7. Promote your event
  8. Prepare merchandise / tickets to sell and plan other related activities
  9. Run the event
  10. Follow up

Type and time of the event

primary school fundraiser

Indoor movie night at primary school

Now let’s talk about organising a movie night fundraiser in more detail. Winter is a good time for an indoor movie event, which can be held at school’s hall or sports hall. Offer kids to bring their own blankets / pillows or camping chairs to sit on, and invite them for an indoor camping evening.

It could be a good option to split primary school kids into junior and senior groups, offering the junior (grade prep to 3) a G-rated movie. Older kids will enjoy a PG-rated movie. Bear in mind the younger kids will find it difficult to sit still during the whole movie, so it could be a good idea to have a break in the middle of the film and offer them some quick active games.

There is a perception that outdoor events can only be held in summer. However, early autumn could be a better choice. Firstly, it gets darker earlier and one can start showing movies earlier, while in summer time movies do not start until pass kids’ bedtime. Secondly, evenings in early autumn are still nice, and even if they are relatively cold, they are not windy. Kids love sitting in a camping chair wrapped in a sleeping bag, and adults will enjoy the evening outdoors, too.

Audience and venue

Equipment required for movie night fundraiser

Equipment for a movie night

The size of the audience determines the size of the screen you would require for the event. As a rule of thumb, get a 3 m screen for 100-150 people, 5 m screen for 500 people, and

8 m screen for over a thousand guests. While sports halls can accommodate a big projection screen, we would recommend to held the movie night outdoors if you have close to a thousand of people.

Equipment and technicians

Hire the equipment (check the list of our recommended party hire providers). Most of the providers offer a technician to run the show. However, a small event does not require any sophisticated equipment and can be held without spending money on the third party tech. There should be a bright (at least 3000 ANSI lumen) projector and a quality pair of speakers at any school, source the movie screen, bring a DVD player (laptop, games console) from home, and run the event yourself!

Movie licensing

Whether your event is indoors or outdoors, you still need a movie licence. Choose 2-3 movies (as not all the titles may be available on the day of your event), fill in the movie licence application fee (we recommend it is done several weeks before the event), and source the discs. While movie licensing authorities can provide you with the disc, it is easier and more reliable to buy your own. Firstly, you won’t need to return it back. Secondly, new disc is guaranteed be free from scratches and the show will run smoothly.

While many equipment hirers can organize movie licensing, it is not a complicated process in itself, and anyone from parents club would be able to obtain a license for their event.

Event promotion

Toy story movie fundraiser

Advertising done by children

Success of your fundraiser a good deal depends on how well you promote it. Don’t just announce a movie night. Create hype around it. Ask kids to vote for their favourite movie. Invite them to take part in the competition to create the best movie poster. Use this poster as an ad in the local newspaper if you are organizing event for the whole neighbourhood. Advertise in your school’s newsletter. Involve your local real estate agency to promote the movie night. Attract local businesses – they will be eager to sell hot or cold food or provide pre-movie entertainment.

Pre-movie activities could involve games and competitions, live music and dance, raffle tickets, and more. We recommend charging minimum for the movie, to get more revenue from selling of food, beverages and movie-related items.

For events held outdoors, have a plan B in case of bad weather. Success of the event depends on good coordination, planning, and implementation – in other words, in time and effort put into it. For more details on organizing a movie night, check our guide.

After party

To follow up the movie night fundraiser, thank every participant. Certificate of appreciation will take a decent place on the notice board of a local business, and will give your school some extra exposure. Praise volunteers. Get one step further and have a small article published in the local newspaper. Leave feedback on the Facebook pages of businesses involved, including equipment hirers.

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Olga Kustova

Olga Kustova

Marketing guru, event organiser and blogger, passionate about all things outdoors: hiking, camping, outdoor movies and entertainment.
Olga Kustova

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