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Fundraiser Ideas: Pageants

Updated on January 20, 2012

club fundraising ideas - school fundraising ideas

Are you looking for a lucrative fundraising idea? How about a fundraiser that’s practically guaranteed to make money for your group, charity, or school? I’ve helped plan and execute numerous fundraisers, and they’ve all netted profits. And no, I’m not some fundraising guru or professional, by any means. I think my fundraisers ideas have worked because I know how to make things fun and interesting. I’m also pretty creative, and over the years, I’ve thought up some pretty creative fundraising ideas. These have included school fundraisers, charity fundraisers, and fundraisers for organizations. One the best fundraising ideas for clubs is to host a beauty pageant. Actually, pageants and similar contests can be excellent school fundraising ideas, too. Below are some great fundraising ideas for clubs and schools.

Glitz pageants can make a lot of money.
Glitz pageants can make a lot of money.

Good fundraising ideas for pageants

Decide what you want to award your winners. Crowns and trophies are a lot cheaper than you’d think, provided you do some shopping around. If you can find a trophy shop within driving distance, it might be cheaper to pick up the trophies than it would be to pay shipping fees. The best fundraising ideas for hosting pageants is to generate a lot of interest. One way to do this is to give big crowns or big trophies. Today, the girls are more interested in big crowns than they are in trophies. You can find a huge crown with lots of rhinestones for around $100 if you shop around. Embroidered sashes can be found for around $20 each, especially if you find a local seamstress.

Let’s say you decide on big crowns. Advertise it! Take a photo of the crown and include it in your flyers. Place the flyers around town, especially in children’s stores, dress shops, beauty salons, spas, tanning salons, shoe stores, and formal boutiques. Place an ad in your local newspapers, as well as in papers in surrounding towns and cities. If your state has an online pageant directory, you can often place pageant announcements there for free.

Be sure to announce up front your guidelines. Will the pageant be natural, high glitz, or low glitz. State what is and isn’t allowed, too: pageant hair, heavy makeup, tanning, flippers, etc. once you’ve made your rules, stick to them. Discuss the rules and guidelines with your judges, too, and insist that they follow the guidelines. For example, if your pageant doesn’t allow pageant hair and heavy makeup, don’t allow a girl who has broken the rules to win. That wouldn’t be fair to the contestants who actually followed the rules.

Glitz pageants and other types of beauty pageants can be fun for all ages.
Glitz pageants and other types of beauty pageants can be fun for all ages.

Club fundraising ideas

When I belonged to a local civic club, we hosted numerous events to raise money for our favorite charity. Some of our club fundraising ideas have included luaus, silent auctions, dances, raffles, and beauty pageants. Yes, beauty pageants can be great fundraising ideas! If you’re not very familiar with beauty pageants, get some help from a local pageant director. If you don’t have access to a pageant director, a pageant mom with lots of experience can help.

If your club has its own building, or if it can use a building for free, you won’t have the overhead of paying to rent a facility. Of course, you’ll also need chairs for the audience, along with a podium for the emcee. You could actually get by without having a stage, but you will need a table and chairs for the judges and the auditors. You’ll need a place where the contestants can change, too.

You’ll need to decide if your fundraiser pageant will include boys, and you’ll need to specify the age groups you’ll include. Your fundraising ideas can include natural pageants, glitz pageants, or semi-glitz pageants. I’ve been involved only with glitz pageants, as far as fundraising pageants are concerned. You’ll need three judges, preferable form out of town. Oftentimes, judges will judge charity pageants for free. You’ll need two auditors to tally the scores, and they can be from anywhere.

You’ll need to create and print out score sheets. A typical pageant awards points for dress, personality/poise, beauty, and overall appearance. Each section might be worth 10 points, so a perfect contestant would receive a score of 40 from each judge, or 120 total points. Obviously, the contestant with the highest total score in each age division is the winner.

If you’re doing a charity pageant, include that info in your ads and on your fliers. Many people like the idea of supporting charity pageants. Also, for charity pageants, you can award a special crown or trophy for the contestant who raises the most money for the charity. This crown or trophy should be really big and impressive!

My oldest granddaughter loves beauty pageants, and glitz pageants are her favorite.
My oldest granddaughter loves beauty pageants, and glitz pageants are her favorite.

Good fundraising ideas – Timing your event

When you’re scheduling your fundraiser, think about timing. For example, you wouldn’t want to schedule a school pageant to be held the same weekend as prom. The weekend after prom, however, might be a great time to host a pageant since many of the teen girls will be able to use their prom dresses as pageant dresses. If you live in a relatively small town, it’s not a good idea to plan a pageant or any other type of fundraiser event when some other major event is going on. Not only could that reduce the number of contestants you attract, it’ll also lead to a smaller audience, thereby reducing your net proceeds. After all, members of the audience have to pay to watch the pageant.

Beauty pageants can be great school fundraising ideas.
Beauty pageants can be great school fundraising ideas.

Pageants as school fundraisers

The best fundraising ideas for school fundraisers are often those that take place at the school itself. Most schools have stages and auditoriums, so you won’t have to pay for the use of a facility, which is sometimes the biggest cost of putting on a pageant. A couple of the school's math teachers could serve as auditors, too. As with clubs, hosting a pageant is a great fundraiser idea for schools, especially middle schools and high schools. It’s easy to have divisions based on on grade levels.

For unique fundraising ideas, you might want to hold a mother-daughter pageant, a mother-son pageant, or an all-male beauty review, in which the male contestants dress as women. These are always a lot of fun!

Beauty pageants can be categorized as glitz pageants, low glitz pageants, or natural pageants.
Beauty pageants can be categorized as glitz pageants, low glitz pageants, or natural pageants.

Pageant fundraiser ideas – decorations

The only place you really need to be concerned about decorations for a pageant is the stage or “stage area.” You want the stage to look nice, but your decorations don’t have to be elaborate. Depending on the theme of your pageant, party supplies like streamers, balloons, and cardboard cutouts might be used on stage. As a backdrop, you can use party supplies like metallic wall curtains or fringe. Large live and artificial plants like palms and ferns also look nice on stage, as do fake columns. Check out party supplies stores in your area to get some more items to enhance your fundraising ideas. Remember, good fundraising ideas include events that are well run, attractive, and fun!


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    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Great info -- did some pageants during my son's school years and not only did it raise a lot of money it was great fun. This is an interesting series you've embarked upon and I'm enjoying it immensely. Voted up - Best, Sis


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