Family movie night is a win-win
Family movie night at the elementary school is a great way to earn money, get to know the people in your school and watch a newer movie. It is a win-win activity. Raising money for field trips and school supplies is a way of life in today's schools.This is one place to earn $300.00 a month just to have fun.
This is a free event and no entrance fee is charged.
Have a plan
Write a plan to share with the principal and school staff. Your organization, whether it be PTA, Volunteer Parents or a Booster Club will need to have a movie night approved. Let the staff know what kind of movies you would like to show. Define what type of food you are planning to sell. Discuss where the movie will be shown, the date selected and the time. Give them an approximate amount that you expect to earn at Movie Night. This is the time to discuss what types of movies will be shown. General (G) might be best but the older kids prefer the Parental Guidance (PG).
How to set it up
Most schools have a cafeteria or multi-purpose room. Even older schools have a screen. We were fortunate that one of our members donated a DVD player that works with the school projection equipment. The use of the cafeteria will need to be approved by the school staff and arrangements made for the room to be opened in the evening. Our school requires that we have one of the custodial staff in attendance. We do not pay him, his wife is a volunteer so she makes him. Works for us. We do all the clean up so that he doesn't have to. Your school will have it's own rules and regulations.
Our movie night runs with three volunteers. We preheat the nacho cheese and hot dogs. Two people serve the food and one collects the money. Everyone knows that volunteers are hard to come by so treat them with respect. School field trips do not happen without volunteers.
DVD Movie Projector
What movies to show
We show the most newly released "G" rated movies. We have on occasion shown a "PG" rated movie but it was approved by the principal. We buy the movie with volunteer money and raffle it off at the end of the evening. Each person buys a ticket for $1.00. Since they are the newest releases, this is very successful. Newer movies also draw in a bigger crowd for those who do not go to the show or it is unaffordable with several children.
Send flyers home
A flyer goes out to the students a week before movie night. We post signs all around the school. The principal mentions it in his weekly all-call to the parents. Get it in the monthly newsletter and post it on the marquee. Advertise!!
This is tricky. Check with your school to see if you can sell food under their permit if the kitchen is opened for your use. The Health Department will issue a permit but in our county it is more expensive than the money we make.
Our staff comes in an helps us so we serve hot dogs and nachos for $1.00. Pizza slices are $1.00 too. Popcorn, soda, and chips are $.50, Buy all your supplies in bulk. We serve our hot dogs from a roaster. The condiments are on the side. We have a popcorn machine that is broken so we microwave it and put it in the machine. It smells good!
We also sell candy. Somehow it's not a movie without candy so when families started asking for it, we added it. Check out your local theater. The markup is enormous. We are not out to take our families to the cleaners so just mark it up a quarter. You make money and they are happy.
Don't buy sodas and water. Have a soda drive and sell the ones that were donated.
Many pizza places have $5.00 pizzas so buy them from them .Pizza is popular.
Pick a date and time
Pick a date and a time. Our movie night is the last Friday of the month. This is when most of us are financially embarrassed so a free movie is a nice family outing. We start at 6: p,m. Early enough for families with small children and everyone is out by 8:00 p.m. In the late summer, we do have to block the sun shining in the windows. .
What families can bring
Our families come prepared. They bring camping chairs and blankets and spread out all over the floor. The school allows us to use the metal chairs so we put them towards the back. It can get loud but it is always a positive experience.
The purpose of selling food at dinner time is to have people buy our food. We don't tell families directly that they can't bring in their own food but we do discourage it. One family was a problem and brought in buckets of chicken. We did ask that they refrain from bringing in outside food as some of our families were unable to afford such treats. We have also been known to hand out a pizza slice or two to the kids who were hungry. It's not all about profits.
Another thing to sell - We found the glow stick bracelets at the 99 cent store. They come in large packs and we sell them for $.50 each. The kids love them and
Some helpful tips
- Make sure you have napkins or paper towels for cleanup. It's not just the kids who spill things. Don't expect the school to provide them.
- Our crowd is well behaved. Expect it and they will live up to that.
- In the spring, we will move it outside for an evening picnic and movie. Many schools have a blank wall that works well.
Your school district may have or need to get a license to show movies. Please check into the legalities but start at the District Office. Movie Licensing USA is the place to check for more information. They are the ones that issue the copyright compliance license. They are expensive so factor that in if you need to buy one. Their site also warns that "According to copyright law, anytime a movie is taken outside the home, a license to show it must be obtained, regardless of whether admission is charged". See the link below for further information.
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on March 02, 2020:
This is a good idea and wish that it had been around when I was a wee lad.
anonymous on February 08, 2013:
Now I sure like this is such a wonderful idea for fund raising while creating wonderful memories and building community....its all good!
anonymous on August 01, 2012:
Be careful to check if you can sell tickets to a movie you are showing in public. You most likely will need to obtain a license to show movies in a public venue!
anonymous on May 13, 2012:
you need to make sure you have a movie license to legally show movies...and only certain movie production companies are covered.
GrowWear on June 22, 2011:
Now that sounds like a lot of fun. Making memories and helping to fund school things. Just a great idea!