Fundraising Cookbook

By  GALA Expert 

 July 4, 2023 

This collection of fundraising ideas for choruses has something for everyone.

A stylized line drawing of a bird made from a treble clef, and staff paper


Table of Contents

Classic Campaigns

Walkathon Model

OVERVIEW: Members of the chorus, staff and board participate in a group activity for which they’ve acquired sponsors. Donations can be made as a lump sum or “by-the-mile.”
WORKLOAD: Moderate
3 people on the planning committee
As many people as possible to execute the event


  1. Decide in what kind of event chorus members should participate. It could be the standard walkathon, bike-a-thon, etc., or something more personalized, such as “Sponsor the miles between ___(home city)___ and___ (Festival city)___”, “Sponsor a singer,” “Sponsor a song,” etc.
  2. Members of the chorus, staff and board each solicit sponsors from among their family, friends, coworkers, etc.
  3. Get contact information from each sponsor.
  4. Send a Thank-You note (post or email) to each sponsor.

Note: Traditionally, supporters sponsor “by the mile”, but donors usually want to handle it just once. So, figure out what the donation amount would be for sponsors who are willing to cover the total sum up front.

Personal Appeal Letter

CONTRIBUTOR: Peter Elliott, Rochester Men’s Chorus
OVERVIEW: Members of the chorus send a letter to friends and family asking for financial support to get to Festival.
WORKLOAD: No Brainer
NUMBER OF COOKS: 1 person to plan; All members to execute the campaign


  1. Each member of the chorus, staff and board compiles a list of friends and family who care about them and know how much the chorus means to them.
  2. Use a template for the letter (see below) and personalize as appropriate.
  3. Post the letters.
  4. Be sure to send a THANK YOU note to your donors acknowledging their gift and the amount.


  • Be sure to communicate how donations should be made.
  • It’s obviously important to accurately record all monies received.

Personal Appeal Letter Template

Date __________ ,

Dear __________ ,


As you know, I’ve been a member of _____(Chorus Name)_____ for the past _____ years. Singing with the chorus has enriched my life in many ways. __________(list your personal reasons and rewards for being a chorus member) __________.

In July 2020, the chorus will be travelling to Minneapolis, Minnesota to participate in the GALA Festival, a five-day choral community event produced by GALA Choruses – the Gay And Lesbian Association of choruses only once every four years. GALA Choruses represents almost 200 Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, Feminist and Allied choruses throughout the Americas.

The GALA Choruses Festival is not only an opportunity to perform with my chorus in front of thousands of other singers, but it is also a chance to perform with other groups, to hear new repertoire, and to experience the comradery of an international LGBTQIA community. We will carry our chorus’ message to Festival and will be true ambassadors for the City of __________.

_____(Other personal reasons?)_____

So I’m asking you to help me “Get to GALA Festival 2020”. I’m setting aside $20 a week toward my goal of $1,250. Won’t you consider matching my weekly effort with a single donation of $10, $20 or more? I’d be so grateful for whatever help you can provide.

Thank you for helping me “Get to GALA Festival 2020”. I can’t wait to share my experiences with you! You can reach me at ______(Mailing Address, Phone Number)______

With Sincere Appreciation,

_____ signature _____

Spaghetti Dinner

OVERVIEW: A tried-and-true old-time fundraiser, the spaghetti dinner is a lot of work but may be worthwhile.
2-3 People to plan
10-20 People needed to administer the event


  1. Get “buy-in” from chorus members to decorate, cook, serve, and clean for the event. You’ll need large-scale participation, especially on the day of the dinner. Does the chorus want to sing, as well as work?
  2. Obtain a hall, large enough to accommodate community tables for your known supporters, with a kitchen. Your event date will probably depend upon hall availability.
  3. Assess the available kitchen cookware; do you need to get any large pots, salad bowls, tongs, strainers, ladles, etc.? Who’s going to do the cooking?
  4. Plan your menu and serving options:
    • A typical spaghetti fundraiser includes pasta, salad, bread, soft drinks, and a simple dessert.
    • Do you want to serve plates to seated guests, have serving stations or a buffet line – a combination?
    • Is your dinner a single-serve or all-you-can-eat?
    • How many cooks and servers will you need?
    • Be sure to accommodate vegetarians by keeping the pasta sauce meat-free; meatballs are easily madeoptional.
    • What should you buy? What can be made?
    • Will all dinners be eaten onsite or do you want to make take-out available?
    • Who’s responsible for it all?
  5. Advertise your event. Include date, time, price and location in all communications. Put it in your newsletter. Send at least 2 emails to your mailing list. Post flyers in the neighborhood—you can get a fair amount of walk-up traffic from people who wouldn’t ordinarily support your chorus. Be sure to use social media. People can’t attend if they don’t know about your dinner!
  6. Procure all your food a day (or two if necessary) before the event:
    • Spaghetti
    • Sauce(s)
    • Meatballs
    • Grated cheese
    • Soft drinks – a variety, including coffee and tea
    • Italian or French bread
    • Butter (and/or herb-infused olive oil)
    • Garlic powder (if baking garlic toast)
    • Fresh basil, if desired, for garnish
    • Salad veggies: lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, etc.
    • 2-3 different salad dressings (at least one should be vegan – maybe just olive oil & vinegar)
    • Desserts
    • Also: plates, flatware, drinking cups, serving bowls, tablecloths, storage containers, etc., as needed
    • What else?
  7. Decorate the hall as permitted. Do you want the tables to be set in any way? Flowers? Dinner music is a no-brainer – should the chorus sing? What and when? Does the chorus have recorded music? Do you want a pianist, a strolling violinist or accordion player? Maybe a sing-along?
  8. Piggyback a fundraiser within the fundraiser dinner. Put a donation jar near the till, do a 50/50 raffle, a basket auction, or a rousing game of “Heads or Tails.” Be open to opportunities.
  9. Save energy for the clean-up. Be respectful of the hall’s owners. Recycle what you can.
  10. Plan what to do with leftovers. Bring take-away containers.
  11. Give yourselves a pat on the back and the next day off.


  • You can purchase sauce in jars to save prep time, but that will cut into your profit.
  • You may choose to have 2-3 different kinds of noodles and/or pasta sauce.
  • Getting donated desserts from chorus members or local bakeries/grocers is a nice touch – even if it’s just a simple cookie table.
  • You can generate additional revenue by having a cash wine bar if the hall has the proper licensing for your state. You may also choose to offer a complimentary glass of wine to adult diners.

Raffles and Auctions

50/50 Drawing

CONTRIBUTOR: Sue Bell, GALA Choruses, Inc.
OVERVIEW: Raffle tickets are sold at a chorus event, with half the sales money going to the raffle winner and
half going to the chorus.

WORKLOAD: No Brainer
1-2 Persons to plan
5-10 People to execute the event (depending on audience size)


  1. Get a large roll of 2-part perforated and numbered raffle tickets from a party store, printing shop or novelty wholesaler.
  2. Recruit volunteers to sell raffle tickets. Figure on needing 1 seller for every 75-100 audience members, more or less depending on the layout of the performance space. Also have a table at the entrance.
  3. Decide on ticket prices. A good rule of thumb is one for $5 or five for $20. The five-for-$20 option sounds like a good deal to supporters, and usually brings more revenue.
  4. Plan on having a couple of sales stations in the lobby, with big signs announcing the raffle. Consider setting them up to take credit card purchases.
  5. Prepare envelopes for all your ticket sellers with a pen, some $5 and $10 bills for change, and plenty of the 2-part tickets.
  6. On the day of the event, before the audience arrives, brief your ticket sellers and give each an envelope with tickets and small bills. Assign them to a sales area (lobby, various seating sections).
  7. Let the ticket sales begin! Be charmingly assertive with the “sales pitch” – the more tickets sold, the bigger the cash prize (“Cash money in your pocket!” or “Think what you could do with hundreds of dollars this weekend!” and such).
    • Ticket buyers keep one part of the ticket and sellers place the other part in their envelope. Be sure to separate them so that all the ticket numbers end up in the envelope.
    • At the conclusion of sales (or at intervals before the concert), the stubs from each envelope are separated and placed in a box (decorating the box makes for a better show).
  8. Announce the raffle before the event begins and at intermission (if there is one) or at practical intervals. Have the ticket vendors wave so that audience members can see them. Announce “last call” a few minutes before drawing the winning ticket.
  9. At the close of ticket sales, double-count the money and divide it equally into two envelopes – one for the chorus bank deposit and one for the winner.
  10. Plan to draw the winning ticket at the end of intermission or about 2/3 of the way through the event.
    • Bring the ticket box up to the stage. This can be done with pomp and circumstance, if you like.
    • Before drawing the winning ticket, be sure to announce the amount of money being won (and the same amount going to the chorus).
    • Thank everyone for supporting the chorus.
    • Draw the ticket and announce the winning numbers slowly and clearly.
    • Be prepared for the winner to either come up to the stage or have a “runner” ready to deliver the cash envelope.


  • Usually, the more well-known and gregarious the ticket vendors, the more tickets are sold.
  • The person drawing the ticket and announcing the winning number should have an upbeat stage presence and a strong voice.
  • The drawing of the winning ticket can be done simply and efficiently or with pomp and circumstance.
  • Make it fun!

Cake Auction

CONTRIBUTOR: Eve Campbell, Turtle Creek Chorale
OVERVIEW: Pick a holiday, invite quests to a rehearsal to see you “behind the scenes” and have a cake
auction and tea/coffee party.

MONETARY YIELD: Low to Moderate
COOKING TIME: 2 months
1 – 2 People on the planning committee
4 – 6 People needed to execute the event day of auction, including
1 Auctioneer


Pick a holiday, any holiday (even a made-up one), for your theme. Sunday afternoon is a great time to do this if you can pull off a rehearsal on a Sunday. If not, invite your guests to an evening rehearsal/cake auction.

  1. Identify local bakeries, restaurants and cake decorating stores. Drop by or send a letter to request the donation of a cake.
  2. Get commitments for cake donations from members. Encourage creativity and deliciousness!
  3. One month before the event, start a weekly media campaign to invite your supporters through email, Facebook, Twitter and your website. Planning a digital campaign means you can do this without paying any money for marketing or invitations. Create a simple but colorful announcement. You can keep it low key, but focused.
  4. Prepare to serve very simple cookies and tea/coffee at your rehearsal for your guests. Seat up chairs “theater style” if you can, or, have the chorus stand in performance formation and seat your guests.
  1. If you do the auction midway through rehearsal, guests can go home and members can continue rehearsal.
  2. Have a fun auctioneer; your membership is full of natural entertainers.

Notes: Issues to consider are rehearsal space and time and the logistics of your rehearsal (to minimize interruption). The event could also be a “stand alone” casual performance.

Serving Size: Turtle Creek Chorale (a chorus with about 150 members) raised $4,000 on a Sunday afternoon with little work.

The Gift Basket Auction

CONTRIBUTOR: Robin Godfrey, Renaissance City Chorus
OVERVIEW: Fundraising Benefit Raffle or Auction held at a concert or an event where a crowd is expected.
Each Section of the Chorus and the Board provides a basket to be raffled or silent-auctioned at event.

1 – 2 People on the planning committee
9 – 10 People needed to produce the baskets
2 People to oversee raffle / silent auction at the event


  1. Make an announcement to the chorus about the event, including a timeline, due date for donations, where to turn in items, etc. Do you want to have a theme for the baskets? Are there any kind of items that would be inappropriate? What is an appropriate monetary value of the individual basket items? What should the basket be worth when assembled? For a raffle, try to keep the baskets worth approximately the same; for a silent auction, you may want to have a range of values and bid amounts.
  2. Consider having one or two people per section in charge of gathering, packaging, assembling the basket items. Keep in mind that the more appealing the baskets look, the more money they will attract.
  3. Recruit volunteers to sell the raffle tickets or staff the silent auction tables (chorus spouses, other volunteers – maybe offer them a free ticket to help).
  4. If doing a raffle, consider pricing your raffle tickets aggressively, especially if the baskets are valuable. $5 per ticket / 5 tickets for $20 is a good place to start, but don’t be afraid to price up as appropriate for the baskets. Don’t give your work away! Raffles can be done by drawing winning tickets for the baskets randomly, or by have drop-boxes (or colorful bags) next to each basket for supporters to drop their tickets into.
  5. Remember that raffles require tickets. You can buy a roll of numbered double tickets (purchaser keeps one side, seller keeps the other) or you can print tickets for people to fill out with name and contact information (this adds to your mailing list but slows down sales). Ticket sellers will need to have change for $20 bills. Consider setting up 1 or 2 stations to take credit card purchases as well.
  6. If doing a silent auction, each basket should have a Bid Sheet with a minimum bid amount, interval amounts, and a blank line for bidder names. Be thoughtful in setting the minimum bid and on your baskets – don’t make them prohibitively high, but not too far below the absolute minimum worth of the items – this isn’t a flea market. You might also consider a “buy now” price. Make bid intervals at least $5 apart, more if the value is high.
  7. It’s best to draw winning raffle tickets before opening of second half of concert. Let the audience know when auction bids close and announce a “last call” for tickets.
  8. For an auction, there should be a sign identifying the winners of each item – at least highlight the winning bid on each silent auction sheet. Have a clearly marked “check-out station” ready before the event ends.

Notes: Basket themes can be tied into your concert themes, or upcoming holidays, or no theme at all. Possible basket ideas: dinner & theater packages, wine assortments, neighborhood crawls, tickets to other arts organizations (an opportunity for partnerships!), health & relaxation packages, etc. The possibilities are endless…use your imagination. Make It Fun!

Serving Size: RCC generally has offered 9-10 baskets and raised $500 – $600 at a concert.

Dream Vacation Raffle

CONTRIBUTOR: Kathleen Schneider, Renaissance City Chorus
OVERVIEW: Raffle a Travel Agency Gift Certificate, giving the winner flexibility to take the vacation of
their dreams!

WORKLOAD: Moderate
COOKING TIME: 2 months
2 People needed on the planning committee
As many as possible to sell the raffle tickets.

Table of Contents (Fancy design)

  1. Speak to travel agents asking for a donated or a discounted gift certificate.
  2. Set the number of raffle tickets to be sold and the price per ticket according to the value of the gift certificate and the needs of the chorus. Keep in mind that the fewer tickets sold increases the odds of winning, and predict an average amount people would be willing to spend for a chance.
  3. Have each singer and board member sell a prescribed number of tickets. Ideally, each seller should be responsible for selling or buying all their allotted tickets.


Serving Size: RCC determined a value of $2,500 & sold 250 tickets at $20 each, totaling $5,000.

Wall of Wine Raffle

CONTRIBUTOR: Rick Fisher, Heartland Men’s Chorus
OVERVIEW: Chorus members each donate a bottle or two of wine which is combined into a prize package for
which raffle tickets are sold.

1-2 People on the planning committee
10-20 People needed to execute the event

Table of Contents (Fancy design)

  1. Announce the project to your chorus members and ask that they donate a bottle or two of wine valued at $10-15. Set a deadline for donations to be brought in, a few days in advance of the raffle, in case you need to purchase additional bottles.
    • Calculate donation amount by dividing the number of bottles you need divided by the number of members you have. Remember that if you have more than one performance you’ll want enough to have a prize drawing at each performance.
    • 60 bottles (five cases) seems to be the magic number for audience appeal. Heartland has tried more – up to 100 bottles – with no difference in interest or revenue.
  2. Recruit volunteers to sell raffle tickets. Heartland uses 12-20 sellers for an audience of about 1,000 people.
  3. Gather your donations and sort it out by variety and value. Fill in any selection gaps with wine you purchase. If preparing prizes for multiple performances, allocate wine equally between the packages.
  4. Get a roll of 2-part numbered raffle tickets from a party supply store. If you’re doing multiple days, get different colors of ticket to prevent confusion!
  5. Arrange for some sort of display of the bottles in the lobby of your performing space. Making the display visually appealing will maximize sales.
  6. Decide on ticket prices. A good rule of thumb is one for $5 or five for $20.
  7. Prepare envelopes for all your ticket sellers with plenty of the 2-part tickets and some $5 and $10 bills for change.
  8. On performance day, before the audience arrives, train your ticket sellers and assign sales stations (lobby, admission and merchandise tables, various areas of the house, etc.) – whatever it takes to allow access to all of your audience.
    • Give each seller an envelope with tickets and small bills.
    • Ticket buyers keep one part of the ticket and sellers place the other part in their envelope. Be sure to separate them so that all the ticket numbers end up in the envelope.
    • At the conclusion of sales, the stubs are separated and placed in a raffle barrel, box, or other non-see- through container for the drawing.
  9. At the appointed time, the ticket container is delivered to the stage for the drawing
    • House lights up!
    • Ask all those who purchased tickets to stand. Thank them for their support!
    • Reiterate what the prize is (e.g. “60 bottles of wine – that’s either a great party or the start of a cellar!”)
    • Draw the winning ticket
      • Read the numbers s-l-o-w-l-y, to stretch out the suspense.
      • Encourage the audience cheer when their number is read – or groan loudly and sit down when they’re eliminated (it’s always around the fourth number and is a very funny moment).
      • When a winner is identified, tell them where to collect their prize (I always say “Meet me at the box office after the concert and I’ll help you get loaded”—another line that always gets a laugh).

Serving Size: We’ve been doing this fundraiser once or twice a year for about a decade now, and we consistently raise about $2,500 per performance with an audience of 1,000 – more if we have some other sort of significant item to raffle. Our concert audience has come to expect this raffle as a feature of our programs, and often expresses disappointment when we don’t have it!


  • Chorus members who don’t want to bring in wine have an option to donate $15-$20 in cash and we buy the wine on their behalf.
  • We usually sell raffle tickets at a concert performance and draw the winning ticket after intermission. This helps get people back in their seats for the second half of the performance. You can announce a “last call” for tickets from the stage before drawing the winner.
  • Additional items besides the wine can “sweeten the pot” and make the raffle appealing to customers who are not interested in wine. Other prizes might include: event tickets, restaurant gift vouchers, a spa package, or anything else you can get by way of donation. If raffling multiple prizes, the first winner typically gets choice of prizes and so on in succession.

GALA Photo Safari

CONTRIBUTOR: Robin Godfrey, GALA Choruses Inc.
OVERVIEW: Kathy Kingston, fundraising auctioneer extraordinaire, has teamed with the owner of Zulu Nyala Game Lodge in South Africa to donate two luxury Safari Packages valued at $3950 (airfare not included) for every GALA member chorus. There is no expense for the chorus—Zulu Nyala simply receives 50% of whatever the chorus makes for each package, with the chorus keeping the other half.
1 Person to plan
1 Person needed to execute, if done as an online auction.

  1. Contact Robin Godfrey of GALA Choruses Inc. for tour package and contact details:
  2. Write copy to promote the fundraiser for your chorus. Be sure to consider all your media channels: email, federal post (although postage will cut away from your profit), social media public radio (usually affordable), etc.
  3. Determine an auction close date. Let it run long enough that most of your audience has an opportunity to bid, but not so long that the excitement wears off (maybe 2-3 weeks).
  4. Set up the online site with a worthwhile minimum bid (maybe $1,000) and reasonable increments (perhaps $25).
  5. Send an email blast out promoting the auction. The more exciting you make it the more money you will make. Emphasize the closing date and the value of the tour package.
  6. Launch the online auction.
  7. Send out multiple E-Blasts promoting the event while it’s in progress. Post updates on social media .
  8. Be prepared for heavy bidding near the end of the auction.
  9. Be sure to announce the winner publicly.


  • Can someone donate airline miles to get to South Africa? If so, you just doubled the value of the prize!
  • Can you use the opportunity to increase your mailing list by targeted advertising (public media is often affordable) or by asking a partner organization to help you promote it among their supporters?
  • Is there a way to make money when you announce the winner?
  • Maximize your opportunities!

Serving Size: In our experience this item has sold for $2,000 – $2,500 (without airfare).

Thinking Outside the Raffle Box

Dining for Dollars

CONTRIBUTOR: Eve Campbell, GALA 411 Board Advisor
OVERVIEW: Friends of the chorus agree to host a dinner party to benefit the chorus. Each host pays for (or cooks) the dinner and invites their friends as guests with the expectation that donations will be sought as a gift to the chorus.
1-2 People on the planning committee
2-3 People needed to administer the event


  1. Identify potential third parties who would host a dinner to benefit the chorus.
  2. Determine the scope of the event. It can be as simple as a single buffet in someone’s home or a set of dinners with multiple hosts. The dinner event can be done in one evening or over the course of a few weeks. There can be a theme, or each host may select the kind of dinner they want to host for their friends. The trick is to let someone else do the work for you!
  3. Work with the host to decide the details of the dinner, the appeal, and the donations:
    • Consider that an outdoor event (picnic or barbecue) means more people at a lower cost; a fancy dinner party might bring a high dollar amount but probably means a smaller donor base. Be thoughtful about what works for your chorus and your supporters.
    • If it’s a fancy party, do you want to ask singers to serve as waiters?
    • Do you want a board member present at the dinner(s) to make the fundraising appeal?
    • Do you want to have several dinners the same night and meet in a central location to share dessert and listen to the chorus sing?
  4. Make “the ask” to potential hosts and set the date(s), style(s) of dinner and price. A backyard barbecue may be worth $10 – $25 per guest. A formal dinner party may command more than $50 a plate. Be creative and don’t sell yourselves short!

Rubber Duck Race

CONTRIBUTOR: Sue Bell, GALA Choruses Inc.
OVERVIEW: The chorus sells numbered rubber ducks to sponsors; the ducks are raced on a shallow public
waterway, or constructed course, with the winner(s) receiving a grand prize.

WORKLOAD: Moderate
2 People on the planning committee
As many people as possible to sell ducks and attend/execute the race


Table of Contents (Fancy design)

  1. Obtain a nice prize from a donor. In lieu of a prize, you could do a 50/50 cash option, but that usually means needing to sell more entries to have an attractive total.
  2. Choose a “race course” with shallow water and a good current. The course should be long enough for the ducks to spend about 5 minutes to get from start to finish. An ideal starting line would be a footbridge over the water; a good finish line is any spot where organizers can stand safely in the water to identify and retrieve the rubber ducks. *** Get any necessary permits to use the waterway! ***
  3. Decide how many ducks the chorus can sell; be ambitious — a typical race consists of about 2,000 ducks, but sell as many as you can.
  4. Purchase more ducks than you think you’ll need from a party store or novelty wholesaler. Also purchase enough permanent markers so that one can be given to each chorus member. Ducks can be all of the same kind or differently colored.
  5. Create paper tickets on a computer (there’s a template below, but be creative) with a series of numbers starting with ‘1’ and running in sequence up to the total number of ducks you want to sell. Each ticket include blank lines for names, phone numbers and email addresses of the sponsors purchasing the ducks.
  6. Create a paper list that corresponds to the number of tickets printed. The list should consist of sequential numbers starting with ‘1’ and ending with the number of tickets printed. Each list should include blank lines for names, phone numbers and email addresses of the sponsors purchasing the ducks. When you reach the end of a sheet of paper, continue in sequence on the next sheet until you reach the end number.
  7. Distribute the tickets and corresponding numbered lists evenly among members of the chorus, staff and board. Everyone should verify that the numbers on their tickets match the numbers on their lists.
  8. Have a numbering party. Everyone grab a marker and write the numbers on your tickets/list on the same number of rubber ducks. No duplicate numbers on the ducks! Give the ducks a few minutes to dry and then put them into large see-through bags.
  9. Advertise the rubber duck race to your mailing list, in your newsletter, on social media, and on flyers.
  10. Chorus members then go out and solicit “adoption” of the ducks from family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors for $5-10 each. Rather than carrying around the rubber ducks, though, supporters receive a ticket. Encourage supporters to name their duck(s) and come to the event on race day to cheer on their duck(s). You can sell more ducks with special group pricing, such as $5 each or 5 for $20. Supporters get the numbered tickets, and print their name, email and phone number on the corresponding list, along with the name of their duck, if they like. Donors can take their ducks home after the race.
  11. Make the race a fun event. Make it a cookout (selling food and drinks adds to your revenue); plan to sing a few songs; have some picnic games; make signs with the names of the ducks in the race, and announce them when they drop in the water.
  12. String colored tape or ribbon across the waterway to mark a start and finish line. There should be a group of chorus members at both the start and finish lines. People at the finish line will need to have pool skimmers or fishing nets to retrieve the ducks from the water. Don’t forget to bring your master list to the event!
  13. At the pre-determined start time and with some amount of fanfare, simultaneously dump all the ducks out of the bags and into the water at the start line. Drum up the enthusiasm of the participants – encourage them to cheer for their ducks.
  14. The winning duck is, of course, the one that floats across the finish line first. Be certain you identify a clear and certain winner and announce the winning number. You may also choose to award prizes for “win”, “place” and “show” or maybe award a “booby prize” to the last place finisher. Be creative! Encourage the people who adopted ducks to take them home.

Heads or Tails

CONTRIBUTOR: JoAnn Usher, GALA Choruses
OVERVIEW: Strands of beads, which represent chances at winning, are sold at an event with a good crowd. Players bet on a simple coin toss by placing their hands on their heads or on their “tails.” If you guess wrong, you give up a strand of beads. The last person left standing with beads wins the prize.
MONETARY YIELD: Moderate to High
4 people on the planning committee
2 people to execute the game: 1 Caller and 1 Judge
Several people to sell beads – quantity determined by size of audience


  1. Obtain a prize of sufficient value that people will be eager to participate.
  2. Mardi Gras Beads can be obtained inexpensively from party stores or novelty wholesalers.
  3. Determine the price of each strand of beads; the price can be adjusted based on the value of the prize and the group of people in attendance.
  4. You will need to have sufficient Bead Vendors at a reception table and walking through the crowd in order to maximize sales. The more enthusiastic the vendors, the higher the sales.
  5. Usually, the number of beads sold to any individual player is limited so that the game remains competitive and fun for all. This will also limit the time spent on the game.
  6. To Play the Game: Those who have purchased strands of beads are asked to stand with their beads around their necks. The Caller instructs the players to place their “bet” by placing their hands on either their head or their “tail.” The Caller then tosses a coin and the results are called out by the Judge when the coin lands. All players who made an incorrect guess remove a strand of beads. When they are out of beads, they’re out of the game and must return to their seat. Those who guess correctly keep their beads, and remain standing for the next round. Play continues until only one player remains standing and is declared the winner.


  • Ideally, the Caller (who will toss the coin) should be upbeat and gregarious to make the game fun! Each round can—and should —be called quickly, which generates high energy levels and reduces the time taken away from the main event. Even with 100 players, the game can be completed in 15 minutes or so.
  • Depending on the size and placement of the people in the room, the Caller can walk around to non- playing audience members instead of using a Judge. This increases the fun for all.
  • Using the beads to monetize the prize, rather than having a live auction, allows even those with a small amount of cash to participate. Limiting the number of strands sold to any one person gives everyone an equal opportunity to win.
  • Beads can be collected at the end of the game and re-used.

Serving Size: Depending on the price of each bead strand and the number of people in the audience, revenue can be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. At the 2013 GALA Leadership Symposium, with approximately 150 people in attendance, beads selling for $20 each and a limit of 5 per person, we raised about $3,500.

Singing Telegram

CONTRIBUTOR: PFLAG Juneau Pride Chorus
OVERVIEW: Supporters purchase a singing valentine / holiday greeting from a set list of options, and a chorus
member delivers it to the receiver by phone.

WORKLOAD: Moderate
COOKING TIME: 4–6 weeks
2-3 people on the planning committee
Enough chorus members to cover the established set of available songs & supporters.


Table of Contents (Fancy design)

  1. Choose a holiday for the singing telegrams – Valentine’s Day and Christmas work especially well, but it could be used for other holidays.
  2. Announce the campaign to chorus members and ask them to come to the next rehearsal with a list of songs they think would make good singing telegrams.
  3. Work with the chorus to assemble a relatively short list of songs that could be performed well by chorus members (solo or duet) over the telephone with very little (if any) rehearsal.
  4. Choose capable and reliable singers to deliver the songs. You can have particular singers for particular songs or a “tag team” for a few songs. Consider whether you want to limit the number of songs delivered by any particular singer (so as not to overtax their voice).
  5. Set a price for the telegrams. Duets or less well-known songs might be priced a bit higher, but keep it in a range most of your usual audience could afford.
  6. Set up a secure webpage for your supporters to order and pay for the telegrams (PayPal, ApplePay, or another established application). Be sure to obtain any special greetings, as well as contact information for both the sender and recipient of the telegram.
  7. Two or three weeks before the holiday, announce the campaign to your supporters via all your usual media channels (email, social media, etc.); include a list of available songs, singers (as applicable), the price and instructions for ordering a telegram.
  8. Make at least two other announcements before the delivery date, one about ten days out and one a few days prior.
  9. Assign songs to singers; be sure to include the contact information of both the sender and recipient.
  10. Confirm your singers’ readiness. Deliver the telegrams by calling each recipient.
  11. Don’t forget to send a delivery confirmation and a THANK YOU note to your donors.


  • It may be best to start small – with a few singers and a short list of available songs; you can build on success to expand.
  • It would be wise to confirm the song selection and any personal greeting with the purchasing supporter prior to delivery.
  • Supporters purchasing telegrams may be added to your mailing list, but legally you may not add the recipients without explicit consent.

Murder Mystery Dinner

CONTRIBUTOR: Bryan Fetty, North Coast Men’s Chorus
OVERVIEW: The chorus produces an interactive “whodunnit” play, meant to be performed very broadly for laughs, with minimal stage design, costumes, props. Before dinner, the cast mingles with the audience in character while salad is served. After the first act, dinner is served. After the second act, dessert is served and audience guesses who committed the murder. Guesses are collected and the final act reveals the murderer. Prizes are awarded for the funniest wrong guesses and a grand prize awarded for the person who most accurately guessed the killer and motive. Raffles and silent auctions take place at various points intervals throughout the evening. Attendees can be invited to participate in a costume contest in keeping with the play’s theme, if desired.
1-3 creative minds to write the play (can be leased from Bryan Fetty,
6-9 cast members
3-4 people to plan the dinner and assemble auction items
3-4 people to sell raffle tickets and distribute/collect whodunnit guesses


  • Banquet tables
  • Stage Area
  • Cash Bar (drink tickets if required by state law)
  • Silent Auction items
  • Raffle tickets for 50/50 drawing


We have the event at a party center/hall. They take care of the food, room set-up, wait staff and bartenders. Profit can be increased by having the chorus prepare the food and holding the event in a less expensive location.

The actors (and the term is used very loosely) come from the chorus and local community theaters; they must be good at improvising and comfortable interacting with audience members. We use a small “stage” but much of the acting involves conversation with the audience while in character.

Paid ItemsCostProfit MarginPotential Net
Dinner for 120variable$5–10 per person$750
250 drinks sold$3/serving$5 per serving$1,250
50/50 RafflenoneHalf the sales$1,000
Silent Auctiondonated goodsTotal sales$5,000
Income Potential$7,850