This guide will assist you in raising the much wanted funds at your Quiz Night or Fundraising event. It brings detail to many different ways of raising money.
Give yourself a budget and an aim for funds raised. Knowing how much it will cost to put on the Quiz Night, with venue hire, QuizMaster fee, QuizNightHQ Questions, prizes and any additional outlays, will give you a good guide as to how much you need to break even at the very least. As a fundraising event, you want to more than break even!
When running a Quiz Night undertaking every one of these games/activities will overrun the organisers and probably overwhelm the attendees. Just pick 5 or so. The fundraising ideas included in this guide are:
- Naming Rights
- Entry Fees
- Buy an Answer
- Buy Not to Lose
- Silent Auction
- Live Auction
- Not-So-Live Auction
- The Joker
- Coin Toss
- Lolly/Candy Jar
- Wine Lucky Dip
- Buy Back in to Play
- Penalties for Cheating
Summary of Possible Earnings
This table gives a snapshot of possible earnings based on an event that has 10 tables with 100 people in total. The more you promote, the bigger your event will be and the more you can make on the night. If your trivia events becomes something more regular, i.e. annually, then it’s worth mixing up the games each time. However, keep the most popular games as they could be the reason people come back each year.
Typically in a single Quiz Night:
- Silent Auction
- Live Auction of 3-5 items (depending on demographic of crowd)
- Buy an Answer
- Coin Toss
- Buy a Square and/or Envelopes
With these fundraising activities (not including attendance), based on 100 attendees and information from below, you could conservatively raise a minimum of: $2,000 - $2,500.
See the How to Raise Money via Sponsorship guide for more information on acquiring items for these fundraising ideas. It outlines the best ways to obtain sponsors for donations of silent auction prizes as well.
Unless your Quiz Night is purely social then you really want to try and raise as much money as you can. Getting great prizes, donations, vouchers and products is one step but providing fun and interesting ways to use them to make money is the trick to making your quiz night a step above the rest. Here's the suggested ways of using successful fundraising games at your quiz night:
There are many businesses that are willing to pay to put their name on something. Businesses may give up to $500 just to ‘support’ an event or fund the hiring of the venue, for example. It’s worth offering these businesses the opportunity to have naming rights of the whole night or if you have multiple donors you could dedicate individual rounds to the various businesses.
It's worth seeing if there's a business owner within your club/organisation that's willing to sponsor the event.
Suggestions for business types to aim for:
- Real Estate Companies (they love to have a presence in the community and are often willing to use their sales boards to advertise your event as a part of their ‘sponsorship’ too.
- Local hardware store.
- Local Family Owned medium-large business.
- The venue itself (they may even waive the venue hire as a way of advertising their own venue).
- A community oriented for-profit business.
- Any business owned by someone within the club/organisation you’re raising money for.
Offering Sponsors the opportunity to buy a round's naming rights can be another way of bringing in some sponsorship money. The sponsor could purchase the whole round to have their name against it. Or you may have a sponsored question in each round. The question could be related to the sponsor or their type of business.
For example, a local sporting goods store may purchase the 'Sport' trivia round. So every time you refer to it throughout the night and on all the answer sheets and visuals you would have their logo and name; 'The Jim's Gym Sport Round'.
Before the Night
Charging people for entry is a great start to making some all-important funds on the night. It's also a straight-forward way of ensuring that people commit to the event as they've put a financial, even if only small, investment into confirming their attendance. With 100 attendees just $10 per person would make you $1000 before the quiz night has even begun! Tickets can be sold prior to the event or at the door. More details below and in the guide regarding Logistics On the Day of The Trivia Quiz.
What Should I Charge?
Keep the demographic and various groups of people attending you Quiz Night in your thoughts when planning the entry fee. If it's a private school major fundraiser you may be more willing to charge $25 or more to attend compared to a local community group of mainly retirees/families - $10 per entry would suit. Perhaps even a family entry fee with a discount may entice more people.
If possible it may be worth charging slightly more for a ticket if you can offer attendees a drink/food coupon at time-of-entry. Calculate whether this is worth your while - drink may cost you $4 per head but you're charging an extra $5-$10 per ticket.
See Quiz Night HQ's comprehensive guide to Marketing Your Quiz Night for more information about ticket sales and ways to get people to attend.
Ticket Sales - Your Handy Guide
Having attendees pre-purchase their tickets gives you an accurate idea of numbers for the Quiz Night. This will help you to plan your teams, games and prizes for the event. Knowing there's going to be well over 100 people may give you the heads-up that you need more Silent Auction items or that you have enough competition and possible money in the room to run a Live Auction.
You may still offer to have tickets available at the door. But this will require someone to be there checking who's pre-purchased and who still needs to pay - depends on how many you've got to help you on the night.
Buy An Answer
Throughout the Quiz Night
This is an easy money spinner. Mention at the start of the night that each table can ‘buy an answer’ in each round. Each team/table can choose up to one question from each round to purchase. Saying something like this works well: “If there’s any question you don’t know the answer to, just write down a $ sign. When you bring up your answer sheet, put your money in the jar and you automatically get the point correct.”
A suitable general response when people ask to buy multiple questions is: “Sorry, you can only buy one point per round otherwise richest table wins”. But as the last round comes around and some of the lower-down tables ask to buy a maximum of two answers it may be worth letting them as it doesn’t make a difference to the end results of winning tables. Also; the night’s about raising money and having fun. It’s not always worth letting people down for a possibly arbitrary rule.
$1-$2 as a starter for buying an answer is ideal. But asking for $5 per answer may suit your club/organisation. Keep in mind the demographic of the people attending and choose accordingly.
Buy to NOT LOSE
Throughout the Quiz Night
This is a fun one for crowds that have money! People can get very competitive and it doesn’t always involve wanting to win; some tables would prefer to at least beat another table. Give them the option of paying a set amount to be above a certain position in the final standings. If it gets extremely competitive and multiple tables want to pay, you could set the cost at a range making tables pay more to be higher up the standings.
It’s a one off payment and cannot be used to get a table any higher than 4th place. Generally 1st, 2nd and 3rd are highly valued and often come with prizes.
Throughout the Quiz Night
This is a great way to make some money from the generous donations of sponsors. Create a space with tables where you can set up all your items clearly for people to inspect. At each item place a sheet (SEE HERE FOR TEMPLATE) where people can write their name, phone number and bid. At the end of the silent auction the person who has made the highest bid wins.
- Have a ‘Minimum Bid Increment’ - could be as simple as whole dollar amounts or increments of $5.
- Some of the more valuable items may need a reserve price. Some donors may even request this. It’s worth putting a reserve on obscure items too saving the one person that wants it from getting it at bargain basement prices.
- Have EFTPOS/Credit Card payments available on the night, allowing people the opportunity to spend above their cash-on-hand. Also, it reinforces that people need to pay for their items on the night preventing people from changing their mind and not wanting it at a later date or you having to cart everything home from the venue at the end of the night.
- As the Quiz Night is getting close to the end make sure you clearly announce when the Silent Auction is set to close. Even do a countdown for the last 30 seconds to get people spending up big in the last fleeting moments.
10+ minutes (depends on item numbers & competitiveness of crowd)
In order to run a live auction you need to have at least a couple of substantial and valuable items. You need to consider whether the attendees will be willing to publicly put their money on the line. It’s also worth thinking about whether those larger items are worth putting on the table if your demographic aren’t going to buy them anyway. Depending on the event it could also be worth auctioning off items that have sentimental value e.g. a school Quiz Night may auction off students’ artwork or a sports club may auction a signed piece of sporting paraphernalia.
The host of the trivia night may be able to run the live auction but it is an art form that can be tricky. If you have a real estate agent connection in your club/organisation then it’s worth bringing them on board. Most likely, they’ll be more than willing as it will promote their craft to the audience as well. Perhaps they could sponsor that part of the night.
- It can be worth promoting larger items when advertising the event as it could help to draw a crowd.
- If you have more than 5 items for the Live Auction it may be worth auctioning them off in small batches to keep the crowd engaged - not everyone is going to bid. Perhaps do a 3 or so items in one break of the Trivia Rounds and then another 3 or so in another break later in the night. An auction of 10 items at once can drag on for more than 20minutes once all the descriptions are read and highly competitive bidding finishes.
- It’s often worth holding the Live Auction a little later in the night (especially if there’s alcohol involved). People may be a little more willing to put in that extra bid to secure an item.
Check out Quiz Night HQ's guide to Logistics On the Day of the Trivia Quiz for more info on what you might need to run a Live Auction.
Suggestions for items:
- A weekend away in a donated holiday house (perhaps owned by a member of the club/organisation)
- One-of-a-kind item e.g. handmade furniture item
- Experience e.g. flight/car ride
- Signed sporting guernsey/piece of equipment
- Tickets to an event
Throughout the Quiz Night + 5 minutes (to announce winners at the end of the night)
This option is for those items that are higher in value but the time or resources aren’t there to run a live auction. Each table is given a sheet (Template Available HERE) at the start of the night.
The sheet lists the items up for auction and contains the instructions for the ‘Not-So-Live’ Auction. The item list gives a detailed description of each of the items, the value and the details for the donor - these can be added to the downloaded Word document from this link.
If someone wants to bid on an item they record their name at the top of the sheet and record the highest price that they are willing to pay for the item. Once all sheets have been collected up, by a specified time, the person with the highest bid on each item wins. It's a little like a Dutch in that you can't see the other people's bids.
- Make it very clear at the beginning of the night what time sheets need to be in by.
- Provide a couple of sheets per table.
- Provide as much detail as possible in the description of the item to give people a clear awareness of what they’re bidding for.
Throughout the Quiz Night + 5 minutes to draw at the end of the night
If you have some large donation items and you aren’t planning on doing a live auction then this is a great way to get some funds coming in. Advertise in the marketing of the night that there’ll be a raffle and make sure you continue to remind people throughout the night. Raffle ticket books can be purchased quite cheaply at supermarkets and bargain shops. Make sure when you’re buying multiple books that you get different colours or if the colours are the same then the letters are different.
A sheet of paper with details on the prizes in the raffle should be placed on each table. A display of the prizes may work too if they’re impressive to look at. Do whatever you need to do sell tickets. Even making the list of prizes available through your marketing could convince some people to attend.
Have around 5 items up for grabs. The 1st and 2nd being of the highest value - these are your drawcards. The 3rd, 4th and 5th prizes can be still highly sort after but of lesser value - maybe a voucher or item that’s also in the silent auction. You could do more but it will drag on the drawing of the prizes and people aren’t buying tickets for the lesser items, they could be bidding for these in the silent auction.
Drawing the Raffle
- If the value of the prizes vary then the 1st ticket drawn wins the most valuable item. Or you may decide to build up to it and go from least to most valuable prize. Make the decision before you start and announce it before you draw any tickets.
- If all the prizes are roughly the same value then it works well for the winner to choose what they want to win. The last ticket gets whatever is left. This can leave room for you to put a joke item in the raffle leaving the final ‘winner’ to enjoy the fun of it rather than having anything of value - the prize could be an old CD, funny costume, 2nd hand item etc.
- When announcing who wins add a bit of drama by taking your time when announcing the colour, letter and then number of the winning ticket. This will vary depending on the number of prizes. If there's more than 10 prizes, just keep the ball rolling and announce it quickly.
- Provide a bag on the table with 2 envelopes - one for money and one for one side of the raffle ticket (named). Each table is then responsible for naming their purchased tickets and placing the money in the other envelope. This works a little bit on a trust system so it may be worth gaging the group attending.
- Alternatively you have a station or roving assistants with ticket books selling tickets to each table throughout the night.
- Prices for tickets (depending on demand and demographic of crowd):
1 for $1 and 3 for $2
Or 1 for $2 and 3 for $5
Or could be more like $10-$20 per ticket, knowing that the prizes will score you something of impressive value.
Don't forget if it's a fundraiser people may be more likely to be generous and fork out some extra dough.
Additional tips and tricks for running a raffle can be found in the guide Logistics on the Day of the Trivia Quiz.
5 minutes (or as long as it takes to sell all the envelopes)
Collect vouchers from a number of businesses that can be of any value. Obviously the higher the better, it is good to have a mix of values though. Put them all into blank, numbered envelopes and at a point in the night let everyone know that they are up for grabs. People come and pay an amount around the same price as the least valuable envelope. It’s a voucher lucky dip! This is a quick money maker but can take time prior to the night collecting vouchers from various businesses - well worth the time and effort.
Some envelopes could have scratchies in them instead of a voucher. The opportunity to win more money is there and so could be of a higher voucher. If you're not able to collect many donated vouchers then this may be a good option.
5 minutes (money collected and names written throughout the night)
This game is very easy because you don’t need to approach businesses to ask for donations. It’s money made purely from the attendees’ participation on the night. Using a whiteboard or printed grid, number squares from 1-100 (or whatever number suits), people pay to put their name in a numbered square. Head over to Quiz Night HQ's Marketplace for a free download of the Buy-A-Square Template.
Once all squares are claimed put some numbered tickets into a hat (or similar). The ticket drawn out is the winner and the corresponding person wins a prize. Alternatively, find someone in the room with a bank note, use the last two digits of the serial number of the bank note to identify the winning square.
If you charge $5 per ticket, selling 100 squares and award the winner $200 - you’ve still made $300 and the winner would be fairly pleased with their rate of return.
Alternatively get people to record their mobile phone numbers in their purchased square. Instead of calling out the winning number, once the square has been drawn, call the mobile phone. Using this method creates some excitement in people waiting for a phone call.
5-30 minutes (Throughout the Night)
This game is also easy as you don’t need to approach businesses to ask for donations. Like the 'Buy a Square' it’s money made purely from the attendees’ participation on the night.
Put up a display of playing cards with the blank side facing up - this could be stuck to a whiteboard or pin board. Write a number on each card. People pay to put their name on the numbered cards. Once all the cards are purchased (52 + Joker) draw numbers out of a hat (or similar). The person with the corresponding number comes up and turns the card over. Keep going until the Joker is drawn. The joker card is the winning card.
You could decide to include bonus or smaller prizes for aces or kings or queens or one of the suits etc.
- $50 cash. If you sell the cards for $5 each the person has won a substantial prize and you’ve made just over $200. This could be a higher price depending on the demographic of the crowd.
- Chocolate / food item / wine / voucher / table point for smaller prizes.
- Perhaps even a bonus point for smaller prizes.
Coin Toss at Bottle of Alcohol
10+ minutes (between rounds of trivia)
This game literally involves people throwing their money away. Run this in between rounds.
Set up a bottle of alcohol (whisky / vodka anything worthy) or jar of lollies / chocolate (for the underage groups) at the end of a space big enough to toss a coin a distance of 20ft or so. People line up behind a line, a fair distance from the item, and throw coins. The closest coin to the item wins the bottle / jar at the end of the game. Set a minimum amount that has to be thrown. So in Australia, use gold coins ($1 or $2). Alternatively, players could purchase a disc to throw at it for a set amount.
When running this game you should collect each coin into a container after the throw unless it is the closest coin - keep that one where it landed. That way there’s only one coin ‘on the field’ at a time and less chance for confusion or complaints about ‘coin interference’. Also, keep the winning ‘coin-tosser’ nearby so that you can keep track of who’s currently winning.
Throughout the Night
Fill a jar with lollies / candies prior to the Quiz Night, making sure you have counted the exact number of items in the jar. People then pay to make a guess and whoever is closest at the end of the night, wins the jar and all its contents.
50 cents a guess or $1 for 3 guesses is a good amount for this family-friendly game. This is a great game for a Quiz Night with younger attendees.
Wine Lucky Dip
Throughout the Night
Seek out donations of wine prior to the event - ideally you want a mix of value, red / white / sparkling etc. This can be sourced from a wine merchant or get people within your club / organisation to donate a bottle each. The wine bottles are placed into paper bags and put on display. Advertise the range of values of the wine bottles and sell all of them for a range somewhere in the middle. E.g. a wine bottle range of $10-$60. Every bottle is $25. It's a lucky dip for a highly valuable bottle or a good, cheaper bottle. Don’t forget, although it may well be a charity fundraiser, people have already given up their time and money for the ticket to attend - people will be more willing to spend some money if they feel they have some value from their investment. Don't be stingy on the quality of wine.
- If every bottle is donated charging less won’t be an issue as every cent is profit.
- If you’ve had to purchase a number of bottles, that’s also ok. You can arrange it so there’s only one / two bottles worth $60 / $50 / $40 and the rest are worth $10-$25. This way you’re at least making a small profit.
Buy Back in to Play
Throughout the Quiz Night
Each of the ‘non-fundraising’ games played on the night i.e. Heads and Tails* (link to article) could include a buy back in opportunity. If someone is knocked out of a game and they desperately want to continue to play they can buy back in. Around $2-$5 to buy back in should suffice. Set clear rules prior, so if people want to buy back in they have to do it straight after they’ve gone out and they can’t do it in the second last round or after everyone else had been knocked out.
Please note: adding this element will prolong the time it takes to play the games.
Also: make the rules very clear from the beginning to save any arguments later.
Penalties for Cheating
This is optional opportunity if you want another way to raise some coin. You may also have concerns about the possibility of teams cheating - this may help you.
Reveal at the beginning of the evening, when announcing rules, that you will be 'fining' teams if they use their mobile phone or cheat to gain an answer in some way. It needs to be substantial enough so that it's a disincentive and it is also a benefit to the club/organisation in the event of it occurring. However, you don't want to be a party-pooper.
Have a basket in the middle of the table where all team members have to place their mobile phones at the start of each round. Between rounds people can grab them and check sporting scores or double check an answer they thought they got correct. Remember to keep it light and not authoritarian - you'll get rebels if that's the case.
Having a penalty for cheating can give people the option of cheating. Knowing they have to pay a certain amount may not affect some teams. Creating a fun and naturally competitive atmosphere for your event can be overrun by people dobbing others in or focusing on the cheating rather than the participation.
As previously stated, when running a Quiz Night undertaking EVERY one of these games/activities will overrun the organisers and probably overwhelm the attendees. Choose the ones that work well for you or that you think will create the ideal atmosphere at your Quiz Night. Here's some suggestions for prioritising these games to maximise the earning of money on the night:
Easy Additions to your Quiz Night
- Buy An Answer
- Silent Auction
- (Live Auction or Not-So-Live Auction)
- Buy a Square
- Coin Toss
- Wine Lucky Dip
Optional Extras that can complicate things
- Buy Back in
- Buy to Not Lose
Remember that the trivia is fun but the key part of the night is the money spinners - it's a fundraiser. 20+ tables with over 200 attendees at a rather affluent private school can raise upwards of $20,000 with outstanding one-off Live Auction and Silent Auction items.
Please comment with your own successful games below. Also, please share experiences with the game suggestions and how they have worked for you.