Our P&C movie night

Kirsty McGovern-Hooley, outgoing Treasurer at Farrer Primary School, shares a fun and successful fundraiser – their Father’s Day Movie Night.

For the last two years, the Farrer Primary School P&C have run a very profitable movie night, specially for Father’s Day. Just as importantly, the nights have been lots of fun and a great way to get more Dads involved and coming to school events.

We make sure we get the relevant licence to screen the film (from the movie distributors, like Roadshow) and then charge for entry as well as selling food on the night. We have been lucky to have Craig Jamison, one of the school’s parents, running the events because he is also a caterer, so the food has been hand made and of high quality!

We set up in the school hall and project onto the big screen and encourage families to come. It is fun to watch the kids showing up with their teddies and pyjamas. We end up with a mosh-pit of bean bags in front of the screen!

Our first Father’s Day movie night was fabulously successful. We screened The Lego Movie and had nearly a third of all school families come along, mostly kids with their Dads. When you consider research which shows that children do better at school when their Dads are involved (even if their mother is already involved), getting Dads to school events with their kids is a great first step!

I can certainly recommend taking advantage of big popular movie titles, like The Lego Movie, films that people are happy to see more than once.

P&Cs also need to think about the rating of the film. The Lego Movie is rated PG, which the Education Directorate requires parental permission to be screened in schools, so we insisted that parents accompany their children and provided information to parents about what the rating meant. The following year we screened Paper Planes, which is rated G, which made things easier, but G films can be harder to get senior students enthused about. Again, we got lots of people coming along, about a quarter of the school’s families.

We sold tickets in advance as well as on the night at $25 for a father and kids.

We have tried selling either a meal (handmade sausage rolls and feta and spinach triangles) or snacks – popcorn, packaged snacks and mini hotdogs. Both were popular, but the meal was more profitable. We also provided Halal food which sold well. When we sold meals, we made around $1500 for the night, which was great for a school of only 180 families.

We have found Roadshow really good to deal with. When you buy the film license from them (the cost varies depending on the movie, from $220 to $350 or more) they also provide promotional material, like the official film posters, which helps to get everyone excited about the upcoming screening. Obviously, we do all we can to promote the event to our parents well in advance. We start selling tickets several weeks out, and offer a discount to pre-purchase. Almost 80-90% of tickets are presold which means we can manage catering quantities more effectively. The event is advertised on posters around the school, in the newsletter, and on the school app.

So if you are looking to combine a great community event with getting more Dads involved and raising funds, I can certainly recommend an event of this kind.

Editor’s note: for more information about running movie nights, see Council’s Information Sheet 28 on Licensing requirements for fundraising.

This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 2, 2016. See other past editions of our quarterly magazine.  It is part of a series of articles sharing expertise across our P&Cs.