Coord 209: Fundraising for the Domain

For one reason or another, eventually a Domain will need to raise a good deal of money. While the main source of some Domains are site fees, there are a variety of other events that a domain may wish to host that may need some funding. Below are some strategies which can reliably be used to to raise funds. This article will focus on a variety of long-term and short-term activities, both sales and one-shot games. All are useful strategies to fundraise for either the Domain’s needs or for a Charity drive.

The first thing that needs to be done is to figure out how much you are going to need for your event. Make sure to take into consideration site fees, food costs, plot tools and any other expenditures that you may need. Once this is done a domain will have a better idea of what the goals are for the fundraising project, and can better choose activities to complete the task.

Sell, Sell, Sell!

One-time sales are often easier to organize: there is less to keep on hand and fewer things to organize. Some require more overhead than others, but all promise a substantial return.

Raffles

Unfortunately, MES cannot endorse 50/50 raffle because in most states, doing this without a license would violate gambling laws, especially because of the club’s non-profit organization status. In some states item raffles also violate the law, so please check with your state and city laws before considering this option.

Yard Sale

Summer presents an excellent way to do this quickly is to organize a Domain Yard Sale, perhaps followed by a Domain BBQ potluck.

A member volunteers their yard to host the sale and members of the Domain or Chapter gather to sell various bits and bobs. To maximize your impact and extend your reach, hold the yard sale in a place where they have advertized a community-wide garage sale.

These items do not necessarily need to be items desirable to LARPers, only items that would be desirable to garage sale goers. Make sure to sticker individual items the day before, or label the tables by price point.

Your Domain can do this on one or more weekends, and it presents an excellent time for the membership to socialize in real life!

Rose Sales

This activity is often done at conventions, but it could also be successful at a Game of the Month where a formal event is hosted. Plan ahead two weeks, so you can get your order in with enough time to ensure that your stock is available.

For larger events, a supply of roses can be ordered at Costco or Sam’s Club. The minimum order is 100 stems, at about 90 cents a stem. At this price, sold at $2.50 a rose, 40 stems must be sold to break even.

It is, however, not unusual to can cut a deal with a flower shop for about that price for fewer, though they typically won’t do that for an order of less than five dozen.

Bake Sales

On site munchies can be donated by players (for Prestige!) to the Domain for sale at game — especially a Convention or Game of the Month, where multiple games are held and there may not be much to eat on hand.

This can be done over multiple weeks, but if it is more than a one time event, it would be easier to transition to a Concessions model.

Concessions

Alternatively, the Domain could decide to make munchie sales a long-term event, and invest some money in snack foods from Costco or Sam’s club. Sales of soda, bottled water, granola bars and bagged chips sold at game for a markup has proven very successful. Controlling the per-item against markup is very important. Ideally, a single Domain officer should be assigned concessions duties, and report to the coordinator on a monthly basis with all receipts. If items are donated by members, they can receive prestige for their donations.

A 32 pack of brand-name soda at Costco costs about 40 cents a can, and a 60 count granola bar box is broken down to about 18 cents a bar. A standard markup, rounded up, would price soda at $1 a can, 50 cents a granola bar. This should be marked so that it’s profitable enough to bring a return in a reasonable amount of time. If the Domain can break even when half of the supply is sold, you have a reasonable markup and should have made enough of a margin to replenish your supplies.

Making sales can be as simple as setting out boxes and a cooler in a space designated for out-of-character activities. Members purchase items by dropping off their money in a coffee can on the honor system, or through an officer assigned to mind the items.

Do check with your game site policies to ensure that food consumption on site is acceptable. As a note, alcohol sales requires a license and thus should not be sold for fundraising. Also, please remind your members that clean-up is not only something they can be award Prestige for doing, but mandatory for us to retain our game sites.

Penny Wars

This is another fun thing to do at a convention or large event, but it could just as easily be done over several weeks, building up to a Domain Social or Game of the Month.

Volunteers from Coord and Storyteller staff have jars with their names on them brought to events. The person who collects the most pennies (in dollar amounts) gets a pie to the face at an upcoming social event. Pennies count TOWARD that person, silver coins count against. Alternatively, we could dispense with the copper vs. silver and simply declare the “winner” the person who collects the most money overall.

The winner is announced at a special event, with a last minute collection to help encourage a rush of last-minute funding. It’s all culminated with a pie to the face of “the winner!”

With Storyteller Staff and Coordinator Staff cooperation, fun competitions like these can come with fun IC rewards. For instance a penny war with the vampire clans as the victors could pit toreador vs nosferatu, with plot cookies going to the clan who raises the most money. When we let our geek pride go to war for a good cause we often raise higher amounts of money for the cause.

One Shot Games

These events are not our standard fare, not set in any particular chronicle, and can be an incredible amount of fun! Your Domain might choose to run an event on a fifth weekend of the month when nothing else is planned, or perhaps on an off day, like Friday night or a Sunday.

Some games may require more planning than others, but all can have the following fundraising scheme added on to it. Adjust these suggestions as your Domain sees fit.

  • $5 buy in (or whatever suits your Domain) on top of your standard site fee
  • 50 cents for a +1 to a draw, $1 for +2
  • $5 Retest

Elysium in Hell

Not much planning needed for this, only a Storyteller and a few Narrators. The basic conceit is that, for the buy-in price, players will get to play a dead character of theirs in a one shot adventure… SET IN HELL! Pre-registration is necessary to build excitement for the buzz, and so the organizers can advertize the presence of particular infamous dead characters. Pre-generated characters — or NPCs who are in on the plot — should also be available.

Munchkin by Night

This is often an incredibly successful event, as all of the crazy ideas that the members have ever had now become available to them. This works best if you have access to a white/chalk board to draw up brackets as well as draw the arena.

This is a Royal Rumble-style one-shot event that will need some really, really smart STs who can run a fast killbox. This is a heavy killbox play, but as much crazy narration as possible should be included.

In addition to the suggested $5 buy in, we suggest that this gets all players a base MC 10 character. Another $5 gets you that base MC 10 with supernatural template. Another $5 gets you a SECOND supernatural template (i.e., you get to play an “Abomination”). Bloodlines/Legacies/Lodges/etc cost $5, while Artifacts, Fetishes, etc. cost another $5.

Given an announcement ahead of time, people come in with some really ridiculously creative things. The winner of Munchkin by Night gets a shiny thing, perhaps a trophy procured from a Thrift store, or maybe a re-decorated a plastic crown.

The Zombie Apocalypse is Now!

Yes, we all have fun playing monsters or super-powered people, but what about flipping over the tables and ending the whole world? This is another very fun one-shot LARP event.

The Lead Storyteller arrives at the game site with a stack of pre-generated “ORDINARY PEOPLE” character sheets that contain a brief description of the characters, given out at random to attendees. These pre-generated character can include high school cheerleaders, a video store clerk, college football player, biker, police officer, priest, etc.

Keep the introduction brief so that people can jump into the crazy game at any time, have the Storyteller use a location familiar to all the members — maybe even your home town! — and feel free to use local landmarks. Additionally, use this opportunity to help players go out on a limb and take risks. The players should feel free to explore the peculiarities of the setting, and exploit the craziness. They are required however to retain the concept that is given to them — this makes it hilarious when the two guys who always play the Brujah or Alpha Werewolf both get a “Cheerleader.”

Because of the nature of the setting, characters WILL die! Messily! When their character dies, they can buy-in again (maybe drop the price to $2) and get another random sheet. With cheaper +1s and $2 retests, this can be a really fun, really crazy night. Because of its unique nature, new players can be fairly easily introduced, whether they’re late comers or have just started a new character after dying horribly!

Storytellers can always use Mind’s Eye Theater World of Darkness rules, but the Storyteller will need to build a bank of pre-generated characters. Alternatively, this has been very successfully run using the All Flesh Must Be Eaten rules, which need only substitute a draw deck for the 10 sided die and already includes a dozen or so pre-generated characters. More infromation about this can be found here: <http://www.allflesh.com/flesh.html>.

In Conclusion

Whichever way you choose to raise money for your Domain, either for a particular purchase or for Charity, the objective is not only to raise money, but to HAVE FUN while building relationships between members. So often people get wrapped up in the in-game drama, but we should also keep in mind the importance of those out of game relationships formed by fundraisers and other out of character events.