This is a fundraiser we're working on putting together at my church. I've seen it done well other places. I'd like to share it with you because it's incredibly fun and can help you raise a lot of money for your ministry.
Murder Mystery Dinner Theater
Have you ever been to one of those spooky old mansions or theatres where they put on a Murdery Mystery Dinner? If you haven't, you're really missing out. The idea is that you sell tickets for a dinner theater. You can do this in your church's gathering hall, fellowship hall, or you can rent out a nice room at a hotel or country club. You decorate the room to look like a hotel restaurant, a bed & breakfast, or the dining car of a train.
Next, you feed the people. If you really want to cut your expenses and raise some good money, you get a team of people from your church to make a nice meal. But remember, it's got to be a good meal. Or, if you'd rather have one less detail to mess with, have the meal catered. It may cut into your profit a bit, but you don't have to worry about being responsible for undercooked chicken.
Then, you put on the show. Actors who've trained and learned their scripts act out the show during dinner. They eat dinner, too, alongside the guests, but their performance takes place before, during, and after the meal. The real key to this is that you've got to have a good mystery, a "whodunnit", for the guests to solve. During dessert the actors venture around to the different tables and sell "clues" to the guests for a buck or two apiece. After dessert you act out the end of the performance revealing the villain of the plot. The whole this is really sort of like that old movie "Clue" only with a meal.
It's a ton of fun for the actors and for the guests. If you really want to build your fundraising, have a group from your church like your youth group or a mission trip team wait the tables and ask guests to tip the servers for their ministry.
If you think this is a good idea, but don't really know where to start, give the Wesleyan Thespians a visit. I really like using their scripts because they're written by church groups so the material is unobjectionable. Their performance fees are very reasonable. And their kits give you all the help and directions you need to be successful from start to finish.
We'll be putting on our first Murder Mystery Dinner Theater this fall. I'll let you know when, because you'll all be invited.