1. Ticket Sales
Pageant ticket sales are substantial for helping to support the costs of the program and the show—and for making a profit. First, set a reasonable ticket price, according to your demographics. (The prices charged in other areas may not be appropriate to yours.) Look at what’s being charged for live shows in your area. Balance the price between that and your budget needs. Second, offer the audience a “show.” If your audience is only interested in the competition and seeing who wins—if people are only there for the contest—you won’t make a profit. You need to attract a general audience who’ll come to be entertained.
2. Program Books
For some locals and states, their program book is their largest and most successful fundraiser. How could you achieve this? The first step is getting your contestants excited about selling program book ads. The more ads sold, the more the program will benefit. Create an incentive plan that will motivate contestants to sell: prizes for the highest ad sales, profit sharing, et cetera. The second step is getting additional advertisers, beyond the cheer pages sold by your contestants. First canvas local businesses where your pageant is held—particularly restaurants and hotels—and move on from there. When it comes to printing costs, try to keep them to a minimum. If that means fewer color pages or a lower weight paper, so be it. Work on creating a good relationship with your printer, and perhaps even work out a trade agreement for ad space. Finally, sell, sell, sell! Price program books reasonably, and get several volunteers to sell them during competition week.
3. Partnering with Local Businesses
Traditionally, you’d have a financial relationship with a local business that would be a donor or sponsor in some capacity. You could ask that business to sponsor a scholarship, or awards for swimsuit and talent winners. Perhaps it could sponsor a runner-up award. But if a business can’t swing a traditional donation or sponsorship, it doesn’t mean it can’t support your pageant. Ask businesses to sell tickets to your pageant, or put up a sign in their establishment that says “Supporter of Miss.” When you make contact, be sure to follow up—and make sure you are generous with your thanks to businesses that do help sponsor your event.
4. Peoples Choice Award
With reality TV tapping into the public’s desire to make their voices heard and choose winners of all kinds, it makes sense for pageants to tap into this trend as a fundraiser. That’s right: You could create a Peoples Choice Award for your pageant (e.g., Most Photogenic, Miss Congeniality) and have the public vote. Working with your Web service, set up an online system for people to donate to vote, such as $1 per vote. Friends and family of the contestants could vote as many times as possible to choose the award winner—and donate to the organization. Or encourage audience members of the pageant production to vote. Set up a jar for each contestant—complete with her photograph—near the entrance of the production. Those in attendance could donate money to whomever they choose throughout the beginning of the show, and whichever contestant has the most money wins the Peoples Choice Award.
5. Merchandise and Hospitality Rooms
It always pays to be hospitable. Set up a hospitality room at your host hotel during pageant week. It will be the place to go for extra tickets, program books, and special Teen and Miss merchandise unavailable anywhere else. Parents, friends, local EDs, and enthusiasts will want to shower their contestant with gifts and get a souvenir to commemorate the occasion. If you publicize the fact that you have a hospitality room, you could make a lot of money. Volunteers could take shifts to ring up purchases and answer questions that might arise. We suggest investing in some pageant merchandise, such as T-shirts, mugs, and posters. These are wonderful keepsakes for families and, of course, will make money for your pageant.
6. Princess Programs
A princess program, from the outside, could look like a lot of work. But don’t let the startup time dissuade you from adding a princess program to your pageant. Pairing Teen and Miss contestants with Princesses provides mentorship opportunities and helps to grow the confidence of young contestants, and grows the number of competitors your program will gain from this feeder program. Princess programs that reinforce positive values and learning experiences for the girls help them to feel comfortable on stage and in everyday life. By including your Princesses in a production number during pageant week, you could count on their families and extended family buying tickets to see them on stage. You’ll sell more tickets and expose more people to the value of your program. Also, the fee each young girl pays for the Princess experience will benefit your program. The fee should be commensurate with the experience you give each Princess. Suggested activities are pizza parties, a fashion show, a slumber party, and arts and crafts.
There are many types of fundraising events your program could host throughout the year. Host a fashion show featuring local contestants. Your contestants work hard on their talents, so a talent show or follies could draw a crowd seeking live entertainment. Whether it’s a silent event or a rowdy, raucous one with a real auctioneer, an auction is a surefire way to make money. Items could be provided by contestants, who craft a basket filled with various items. A more traditional fundraising event is the summer car wash.
8. Golf Outings
Of all the ways to raise money for your pageant, golf outings are perhaps the most fun—and the most labor intensive. Planning an outing is a big job. And while you could do it on your own, it’s a project better done with a team. There are several things to consider when looking at golf courses, including price, quality, and service. Ideally, you’ll find a course that’s willing to donate something to your pageant: green fees, golf carts, food, et cetera. Sponsors will reduce the overall cost of the outing, ultimately leading to more money for your scholarship fund. Keep a list of sponsors from year to year, and be sure to offer them compensation in whatever form you’re able. Write thank you notes, have contestants visit their establishment, advertise their company name at the event, et cetera.
9. In-kind Scholarships
An in-kind scholarship is an educational opportunity donated to a local or state pageant. For example, a college in your community or state may choose to donate a year of tuition to your titleholder. Some colleges and universities donate up to four years’ tuition. Trade schools also donate training and tuition to pageants. This kind of scholarship isn’t awarded in cash, but is fulfilled when the titleholder attends the institution. Generally, there’s a time limit by which the titleholder must use the scholarship. To attract in-kind donors, simply ask. Send a letter of introduction and information about the pageant, introduce your current titleholder and her platform, and end by asking for an in-kind scholarship. Be sure to follow up!
10. Get Your Community Involved
Involving your community in your pageant is beneficial in many ways. When more people are invested in your pageant’s success, the success will be greater. By making your pageant a true local institution, you’re creating a legacy to carry on. From local government to students and businesses, involving the community will strengthen your pageant.