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How to Host a Halloween Haunted House Fundraiser: 6 Steps

1. Secure a venue. 

A truly scary haunted house requires a great setting, like an old barn, a volunteer’s Victorian-esque home, or even a decked-out school gymnasium. Wherever you decide to host your haunted house event, make sure it’s a reasonable size for the scope of your scare. You don’t want to, for example, rent out the local roller rink if your budget only allows for you to decorate half of the room. 


2. Recruit volunteers. 

Creepy décor is a must for a haunted house fundraiser, but volunteers who are ready to spook are what truly bring your haunted house to life —  and scare your supporters to death!  Use this campaign as an opportunity to engage current volunteers and reach out to lapsed volunteers, inviting everyone to come together on behalf of your cause, dress up, and scare the daylights out of your attendees! 


When training your volunteers in how to participate in your haunted house, ensure you set clear boundaries for the scaring they are and aren’t allowed to do. For example, a volunteer may be ready and willing to chase your attendees down a dark hallway with a fake chainsaw, but it might not be the safest idea. Prioritize safety and set establish clear rules. This will set the tone for easy volunteer management on the big day. 


3. Promote your fundraiser. 

Just like any fundraising event, you’ll need to heavily promote your Halloween haunted house fundraiser well in advance in order to have a great turnout and to pull in lots of revenue that can fund your mission. Take a multichannel marketing approach, leveraging all of your communication assets. This might include email newsletters, posters and flyers, social media posts, and more. 


You should also consider your target audience. Who do you expect to come to your haunted house, and how can you best reach them? If you’re targeting teenagers and college students, for example, you’ll want to focus especially on popular social media sites like TikTok or Snapchat and post your flyers in high schools and universities. 


4. Cover your liability bases. 

While all of the scary stuff in a haunted house is fake, these events come with real risks. For example, an attendee might get so spooked they start running, trip, and skin their knee — or worse! In order to cover your liability bases, make sure you have both your volunteers and your attendees sign a waiver before participating in the haunted house. This will be especially important for minors who want to walk through your haunted house. 


It’s also a good idea to reach out to your insurance agent or lawyer to review your plans to make your haunted house safe and reduce liability for your organization. 


5. Pick a theme and get decorations. 

Once you’ve secured a venue, recruited volunteers, started marketing your event, and taken care of liability issues, you’re ready for the fun part of planning a Halloween haunted house fundraiser — picking a theme and spook-ifying your venue with horrifying décor!


Start with your theme. It helps to imagine a story that goes along with your venue. For example, if you’re using an old barn for your haunted house, you might imagine that a ghostly scarecrow is seeking revenge for wrongdoings committed on the farm. Or, if you’re hosting your haunted house in an elementary school, you might choose the theme “Monster Mash.” A cohesive, streamlined theme that tells a story can be a lot of fun and guide you in your decorating. 


Next, buy or make decorations. Ideally, these will be decorations that you can use again or repurpose down the road if you want to make your Halloween haunted house fundraiser an annual event. Of course, your decorations and the costumes you make or buy for your volunteer scare team will depend on your target audience. But remember, you’ll likely have more success if you make the event family-friendly. Steer clear of too much gore and instead shoot for spooky but fun!


6. Collect donations at the door and let the scaring begin!

To make money with this fundraising idea, you’ll need to sell tickets at the door as people arrive to your haunted house on the big night. You can boost donations by selling tickets online or offering a family discount. To make a little extra cash, you might encourage attendees to give an additional donation on their way out if they loved their scare experience, or sell items that will boost the fun like glow sticks, small flashlights, or Halloween-themed treats. 


Once you’ve ironed out how you’ll make money off of this fundraiser, it’s time to throw open the doors and let the spookiness begin!

Is a Halloween haunted house fundraiser right for your organization?

Getting Started: Is a Halloween Haunted House Fundraiser Right For You? 

If you’ve been in the fundraising world for a while, you’ve likely had the experience of planning a campaign that you think your supporters will love and watching it take a total nose dive. Experiences like these highlight the importance of planning campaigns that truly speak to your supporters. This is especially important with a Halloween haunted house fundraiser, which can be a divisive fundraising idea. Most of your supporters will either love it or hate it, and it’s important to know their feelings about this type of fundraiser before investing time and money into it. 


To determine whether a Halloween haunted house is the right Halloween-season campaign for your organization, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What do my donor demographics tell me about how popular a haunted house might be for my supporters? When it comes to paying to be scared, some groups are more inclined than others to be drawn to spooky experiences. For example, let’s look at the popularity of haunted houses by age group. According to Statista data recorded between 2014 and 2016, 25% of haunted house visitors are between ages 18 and 24, while only 2.3% of haunted visitors are 65 or older. This indicates that this fundraiser may be more popular with younger groups. (But not too young!) However, it will be important for you to consider this fundraiser within the context of your specific supporters to be sure! 
  • How well do my organization’s supporters respond to one-off events like this? Another important consideration is your supporters’ interest in fundraising events altogether. Some supporters are more inclined to participate in ongoing virtual fundraising, and because a Halloween haunted house is by nature a one-off, in-person fundraising event, they may be less interested in attending. Consider your history of hosting fundraising events and how successful you’ve been in getting people to attend. 
  • Knowing our supporters’ giving habits, would this fundraiser yield a high ROI? If you know most of your donors prefer to give in small amounts on a frequent basis, this may mean that a one-off event like a haunted house fundraiser might be more appealing to your supporters than, say, another organization’s supporters who like to give in large chunks. Determine whether or not the experience of paying a small amount at the door might be a satisfying donation experience for those who support your mission. 

Once you’ve thoroughly vetted this fundraising idea with your team, you’re ready to use the tips above to get started. 

The Key to A Successful Halloween Haunted House Fundraiser: A Creepy Décor Shopping List

The right décor is critical for setting the tone at your Halloween haunted house fundraising event. Here’s what we recommend you put on your shopping list: 

  • Red, purple, black, or orange lights
  • Glow-in-the-dark paint 
  • Fake bats, black cats, and rats 
  • A witch’s cauldron and lights and dry ice to fill it with 
  • Life-size plastic skeletons 
  • Cobwebs
  • Cardboard boxes you can turn into fake tombstones, vampire coffins, or hiding spots for your volunteer scare team 
  • Speakers and horror-themed CDs 
  • Costumes for your volunteers (aim for characters like monsters, clowns, mummies, ghosts, vampires, or scarecrows)