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Do you have a platform for trivia nights? Tell our fundraisers all about it!

3 Steps for Running a Trivia Night

1. Choose your format.

Trivia nights might seem straightforward, but there is actually a lot of variation based on the format. For instance, your team will need to decide your trivia night’s:

  • Event type. Will your trivia night be hosted online? In-person? Or a mix of both? Decide ahead of time to give your event staff time to plan out how you’ll facilitate your event type. After all, you’ll need time to find a venue and consider how you can have teams talk to each other virtually without leading to a chaotic voice call or potential cheating. 
  • Fundraising model. Trivia nights are fun, but you’re not hosting it just for its own sake! Decide how you’ll turn your event into a fundraiser by selling tickets, merchandise, or asking participants to make a donation. 
  • Tournament structure. Trivia nights can be free for alls, have established brackets, and even rematches. Decide how you’ll have your teams compete, how they’ll submit their answers, and how you’ll award points. Plus, you’ll also need to decide if you’ll have a prize (and if so, will there be one just for first place, or will you have prizes for second and third?) and what it is.

Be sure to choose a few basics of your trivia night early on such as how many team members each team needs and whether you’re meeting online or in person. This will allow teams to get organized and make sure they’re set up and ready to go on the day of your event. 

2. Prepare your questions.

Good, fun questions are why your supporters are so drawn to trivia nights. Spend time coming up with creative questions and let your participants know what to expect. For example, you might create questions that are:

  • Themed. Is there a topic your supporters know a lot about? From Star Wars and Marvel Movies to state history and animal fun facts, you can host an entire trivia night that gets into the specifics of a topic your supporters love. 
  • General knowledge. General knowledge questions from science facts to pop culture knowledge should ensure that all of your participants have something they can contribute to their team. You can even create categories for different types of questions and go through them round-by-round or have participants choose what they’ll be asked next Jeopardy! style.
  • About your cause. Interested in teaching supporters a little bit more about your cause and why it matters? Consider adding questions related to your mission from light-hearted questions, such as an animal shelter asking teams to name five types of dog tricks, to more serious ones, such as estimating how many dogs and cats in your state are brought to shelters each year. 

What types of questions will your supporters like best? To get your answer, consider slipping a question asking if supporters would be interested in a trivia night and what types of questions they would like to answer at that trivia night into your general supporter satisfaction survey. 

3. Promote your trivia night.

Once you know what your trivia night will look like, it’s time to start letting supporters know so they can form teams and sign up. For your marketing campaign, be sure to:

  • Create promotional materials. Trivia nights are about fun, and your marketing materials should reflect this. For example, you might add a sample question to a social media post or let teams know what cool prizes they could win.
  • Reach out to supporters. Your supporters will be your core audience, and reaching out to them early through email, your newsletter, and social media will give them plenty of time to prepare. Plus, because your participants will need teams, a trivia night can be a great opportunity to encourage your supporters to introduce their friends and family to your nonprofit by joining their team.
  • Make signing up easy. While registering for an event is very few people’s favorite part of a trivia night, your sign-up form should be quick and easy to complete to encourage participation. While you might be eager to learn more about your participants, make sure your form sticks to the basics to encourage them to finish their registration. 

After your trivia event finishes up, your promotional efforts still have one thing left to do: reach out to all of your participants to thank them for joining and help solidify their connection to your nonprofit. This goes double for anyone new and is interacting with your nonprofit for the first time during your trivia night! 

Trivia Night Tips and Tricks

Encourage supporters to choose their own team names. 

While you may have a few participants who take their trivia very seriously, chances are that most of your supporters will be excited at the opportunity to name their team whatever silly title they want. You can encourage teams to stick to a theme relevant to your mission, such as an environmental group asking participants to choose names related to animals, or you can give teams free rein to come up with any idea they want.

Have your teams submit their names ahead of time so your nonprofit can approve them and get ready to present each team at your event. 

Make scoring fast. 

At a trivia night, teams want to answer questions and have fun chatting with their teammates as they work together to come up with an answer. What teams usually don’t like quite as much is waiting while your staff score the last round and get the next one set up. This can be especially true for virtual events where participants will likely be muted and unable to talk to their teammates while they wait for the next round. 

To keep your trivia night moving, have a volunteer position dedicated to keeping score so your presenters can focus on the questions and keeping your participants engaged. 

Mix up your questions’ format. 

The usual trivia question format is simple: your presenter reads off a question and teams have a few minutes to discuss and write down their answer. However, doing this for every question for the entire night can get a little repetitive. 

Try coming up with a variety of question formats to mix things up and keep your participants’ on their toes. For example, have teams test their knowledge and their reflexes with speed rounds that require them to buzz in to answer before other teams.

Or create an image-based game where participants look at pictures and try to guess what they are from, who they are, or any number of other things. For example, you could have teams identify the outlines of states, famous movie stars from the 80s, or even different types of trees. 

Who Hosts Trivia Nights?

Organizations that Host Trivia Nights

Not sure if a trivia night is right for you or if it fits with your type of organization? Here are just a few of the types of organizations that can put a successful trivia night together:

  • K-12 Schools
  • Nonprofits 
  • Clubs
  • Churches
  • Universities
  • Businesses 
  • Sports Teams

Plus, other types of events you might not first think of as trivia nights, from spelling bees to geography bowls, can also count as trivia nights!