View Full Version : Funding...

10-03-2008, 10:17 AM
I have been thinking on this and wondered if any one has been successfull.
I am looking into the idea of Grants for funding my haunt. If anyone has has some experience in doing this I would love to pick their mind on it. I'm not looking for mass lump sums. but a general guideline to look into. If I can find small grants fo $1,500 - $3,000 at times. Then overall that would get me further.

Fundraising in my area is really limited, not much of a community for this type of amusement. Some see it as a waste. Too far to move to other locations and thus brings me to limited funding. It would be nice to see or hear fo other ways for gaining some capital, not wanting to go into small business loans. Because that woudl put me further in the whole before I can get ahead.

I guess any info on specific books or links to check on would be great. Any info that can be given would be greatly appreciated. thanks for your time.

Jim Warfield
10-03-2008, 10:46 AM
Most haunts will not qualify for a small business loan because they are seasonal, I have always heard.
Find someone locally who did something wacky, but it worked and made money, they might be more prone to believe in your ideas. This is what I did after beating the dead horse of normal, conservative thinking people, which around here means 98% of the people.
(The "Whole" and the "Hole" connotate different things, I think? Stay out the hole, unless you go into it with your whole heart and ambition.)
Money can be evil if you have enough of it to not be inspired to do your best thinking. Desperation is an attractive stimulous for getting things done.

10-03-2008, 01:44 PM
Grants are much harder to get than those people selling the programs on TV will tell you. Most of them are tied to employment numbers. The paperwork is so extensive your time would probably be better spend collecting aluminum cans and working for minimum wage in a convenience store to come up with the money.

Sorry if that sounds discouraging, but it is very difficult to get that free money the govt. seems anxious to give to everyone but you.

Greg Chrise
10-03-2008, 10:21 PM
I saw a cartoon the other day that illustrates how the economy works. The bank has some money and loans it to a farmer who spends it with the seed company and the tractor dealer who each bring the same money back to the bank. That can thus send it a different avenue in another business and make money circulating the same money over and over. As the economy slowsm the banker gets real particular on who he loans the money to. The chinese guy the banker is hooked up with gets upset and cuts him off unless the government will guarentee the money. So silly things and luxuries no longer are loan worthy.

So all of these neat soruces of money advertise with all available hype and have no real intention to give you Tuba in Aruba money, they just want the name recognition to make sure you open or keep an account at the bank, so they have it on deposit to mess with even if it is only $12.90.

Then any level of school has brain washed everyone into thinking that the only way to start a business is to get some of this free money. Only that money has never actually been had by any of these people, they just heard it was where you go to get money. They heard it was possible to get money with out working for it. Then dreams come true if you are smart enough.

The bottom line is you have to do it the old fashioned way and earn it. Even if you do find an investor, you will earn it for THEM and not necessarily for yourself and will have to repeat this process over and over with every cycle. In the beginning and perhaps in the end in some locations, haunting is a low profit upstart and there goes all the money you made to pay the loan and the intrest.

There is no Endowment for the Halloween Arts. So you have to make your own. I could start one if you would send me some money?

Two fold, things that can make halloween money indeed can be things you need in a haunt. You become the bank. selling things on Ebay, having smaller parties and fund raisers that as a whole go twoard larger events, thus building the market at the same time you build the money. Also, you haven't invested $250,000 in to a community that only deserves $300.

similarly just because years later someone comes into the same town with money behind them, doesn't mean they will offer any thing better than someone that has earned the patronage over the years. One has a strictly commercial scam and the other one has a love as the community watched it grow and help the community instead of popping in like the circus and running out of town with large chunks of money.

Uptown Haunts
10-04-2008, 05:46 AM
Yep, funding can be very tricky. I did what most people do when they need start up money for a new business venture. I took out a home equity loan. Grant money is available but you need to sit down and talk with your local Small Business Administration in order to find out what, how, etc. They're helpful but don't always have the answers since this is a very unique, seasonal business which they probably won't understand.

You could seek out private investors, silent partners, do a joint venture. For example; you provide the haunt and entertainment, they provide the property for a cut of the ticket sales. Be creative and leave no stone unturned.


Jim Warfield
10-04-2008, 09:44 AM
Worked for me but won't often work if you plan upon using alot of someone else's sweat because there goes all of your little pile of money, buying other people's sweat(they need money for deoderant!)
"What is that scary smell?"
(The haunter's secret of the arm pit!) Which can often be drowned out by the over-sized 12 yr. old boy's butt-crack he has yet to discover is behind him.
"Tell Gene Hy when you meet him..HyGene!"

Greg Chrise
10-04-2008, 11:30 AM
I don't know why but, even though institutions have given you other peoples money they still want it back. Then there are so many forces that make being able to get the money to give it back kind of stressful.

People connected to the haunt or operations go off and die in their daily lives this becomng unreliable and leaving you with everything. Huricanes come by and stop your ability to do things and get money from others when it was expected.

Things like rent and storage fees, if you aren't lucky enough to already have this paid for, keep cranking on top of loaned money expectations.

Things like the SBA are bad ju ju as the government also has an endless source of income and man power to come take all of your worldly possessions if you don't pay on schedule. Negotiations can be costly. So if you HAVE to borrow or partner up, make sure it is someone that is also in it for the investment level of: If it doesn't make money, we don't get paid until it makes money.

Similar burdens are promissing people they will get paid if they do some service or act in your haunt. Starting out how do you really know if you will make enough money to cover any of these promises. What are you really willing to have the sherrif haul off because you wanted to jump around a few weekend in a mask and t wasn't robbing a series of bank?

Entertaining the possibility of having a silent partner can turn bad as all of a sudden they don't have any money because they gave it to you and were supposed to have gotten it back so, how much is your time worth answering late Saturday and Sunday phone calls asking for $30? If it was say $3000, even if you can come up with $30 every other week to satisfy their crack habit and record every entry in a little book, that is still 100 phone calls, possibly 25 trips to the bank at what ever gas costs, another 2 hours per visit waiting for them to show up to get their money. Basically 2 to 3 hours per transaction returning their money to them as requested at worst case 300 plus hours involved in non sociable conversation because it wasn't your money.

There is nothing wrong with thinking that yearly, everyone else ads things to their custom motorcycle and hits the highway for a few road trips, they go on get away vacations and buy boats and such. At worst case the haunt business is a so many dollar per year hobby/investment and that is okay. Yet, every 10 years the economy tanks, everyone has to cut back on all those luxuries and getting away at all. This lack of funding or a proper earned customer base results in not being able to have the event for any number of reasons down the road.

But, if it is all yours and paid for as you go, it might be okay if it doesn't mak money a year or two.

It is possible to have volunteer set up, building, volunteer decorating, donated and borrowed sound systems lighting and even fire extinguishers. You can get the location, building and insurance on someone elses resource. The things that never go away are storage, wear and tear of the stuff and building more every year to keep the endevor promising and fresh. Your own labor can be free and it might even have involved 200 people doing things that are no longer with us.

With time you can come up with free storage but, this what are we going to have new this year cost never goes away. Moving it in and out costs never go away.

Resouces come from ever day life. Dumpster diving, helpers from your day job skimmed away in small quantities, support from a number of people in the community all coordinated to come up with something good. Money instead of vacations, getting rid of family members to stop a flow of money going out of the refrigerator, devoting time to your dream instead of watching every episode of lost. If you sit back and do put a value on this kind of stuff you can weasel $25,000 per year for about $500 in real expense and not have anyone coming after you for $30 or telling you that the contract you signed says this....

Greg Chrise
10-04-2008, 11:57 AM
If anything I wrote with all the spelling errors has raised questions, beyond why can't Greg type on a laptop, there may be more insight on a blog I had a year or so ago. I have been informed by AOL that it will no longer exist after Oct 31 st, so check it while you can.


Uptown Haunts
10-05-2008, 01:38 PM
Void where prohibited by law.

Greg Chrise
10-05-2008, 07:40 PM
Void where prohibited by law.

What are you referring to?

Greg Chrise
10-05-2008, 08:11 PM
I'd love to elaborate. The helpers I'm stealing from work are my employees, that when it is bad weather still like to put in the hours and make an income. We work on the haunt rather than outdoor construction at our shop or at the haunt location. I'm spending what could be profits to keep people that are trained.

The rest is a certified charity haunt and any donations from any entity are legitimate donations. This supports the community directly where there is no tax base supporting things.

Perhaps in Philidelphia you would have to also pay out $XX,000 in bribes to public officials, and union bosses, then there are 30 pages of registering with the state tax board and local authorities, you should have an attorney on your board of directors but, after that it is all totally legal.

Jim Warfield
10-06-2008, 01:57 AM
If you "Void" where legally prohibited, you will be arrested, you will be arrested, falling a foul of the law.
"Void" as in "evacuating fluids or solids from the body."

Haunting Copy
10-06-2008, 08:59 AM
SBA grants and government grants are *far* from the only grants available. It is true, however, that all grants will take time to acquire, even if you are approved.

I thought you might find this site helpful:


If you look down the center column, there is a category for for-profit ventures. If it so happens that your haunt is charity-based, well, then this site is the mother lode for you!

Best of luck to you, :)

Greg Chrise
10-06-2008, 10:46 AM
A long time ago I invested in a car lot with sweat equity. I rebuilt a carburetor for the man and he sold a pick up truck and made money. Then it was transmissions, then engines and what ever. I let him hang onto the money and buy more cars at the auction. I brought a couple hundred a week from other work was doing to buy cars and parts and get them out on the streets. By the end of the year I owned the car lot and all but one car there. I didn't really want a car lot so every thing got cashed in at auction.

In the haunt business I have built facades and done detailing with a similar pay m in November concept and no matter how low the dollar figure or how high their attendance, pretty much had to consider going there and taking my stuff. Apparently it as good stuff because they paid rather than have me go through all their trailers a couple hundred miles from here.

So, the market has taught me, to work on only my own cars, to work on only my own haunt. But, this might be missing out on opportunities?

Right now I'm planning on whether I can handle squanering about $6,000 on a second location. I already know it is lots of work beyond that cash investment. So, what if I didn't do that second location and gave you $3,000 what would I get and when?

Usually haunt investors are in the same town, have in a way developed a relation ship with the haunt operator and they have been very lucky in being successful from year to year. They are in towns of high population and fork out sums to the tune of $25 to $50 thousand each and are in for 30% on their money or some percentage of the profits that might be higher than that.

If you got a loan from a bank and they see you spent their money on a stack of plywood and some masks and want more for an air compressor and to pay the building inspectors, they would be pissed. Repayment would be to the letter of the contract with no variance.

I'm really intrested in some feed back on this topic. Every year Jim and I just advise otherwise. but, what if I spent the profits from my business on your haut instead of putting it into local charity that may or may not dserve such support. What do I get back?

What if I took one of these investors $25,000 per year gambles and diversified his portfolio a bit with 10 loans rather than 1 very risky venture per year? How would that work out? If your event didn't make the money back would it come from your current job income? Or from your profits running a small business? Over time? Secured or unsecured?

Greg Chrise
10-06-2008, 02:41 PM
I think he asked if any one had successfully gotten a grant? Actually done it. Probably not...You can fill out applications and buy books until you are blue in the face.

Here's a better link:


Greg Chrise
10-06-2008, 03:24 PM
Here's another one!


10-09-2008, 01:24 PM
Thanks for some of the advice. I printed out that article from AOLhometown. Good read so far. But as for funding..well its definitely not gonna be for this year. Mainly I would be using it to secure either rental space or property and storage and basic building supplies. I'm not looking to go buy the big animated props and such, because we can always make them.

There are some good ideas. We are planning on contacting people/groups and such. There is local womens shelter that has a nice warehouse that use to belong to a Lumber supply store that I worked for. We thought about if they let us use the space, x amount of proceeds go to them and their causes for helping.
Great location, plently parking, on a main hwy so it has the potential.

We'll see, thanks again.

Haunting Copy
10-10-2008, 12:07 AM
We are planning on contacting people/groups and such. There is local womens shelter that has a nice warehouse that use to belong to a Lumber supply store that I worked for. We thought about if they let us use the space, x amount of proceeds go to them and their causes for helping.
Great location, plently parking, on a main hwy so it has the potential.

We'll see, thanks again.


The animal shelter in my town hosts a haunted house each year. For their location, they have an agreement with the local chamber of commerce to use their building, which is an old jail.

In 2007, the chamber required *half* of the proceeds. This year, though, they're not asking for anything. Maybe they caught some flak for asking for *any* of the proceeds. Dunno.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you this so you'd feel encouraged. Arrangements like that can work to everyone's benefit. :)

Best wishes,

10-10-2008, 12:59 AM
Thanks Sarah, I hope, if we take it on correctly that it would work all around. Even if we didn't get to be there, we would still donate to a local charity. We're gonna also look into the Chamber for ideas from them, any past history info on previous haunts and what worked and what didn't. So I know we can expect in doing a lot of research. If planning right we hope to put the county on the map with a good haunt. Then we'll plan for bigger show and more permanant facilty to make a spot
in the NW haunt scene.

Thanks again. You'll have to keep me posted in how it goes with the haunt you mentioned. Have a great season.

10-10-2008, 09:04 AM
I owned a tanning salon a few years ago. I bought it with three beds, expanded it to five. Wanting to expand it to nine, I went to the bank on the corner. The tanning salon had been in business three years before I bought it and I had had it for one.

After following all the process that I read about in the business magazine articles, including a business plan with conservative numbers, getting the banker to inspect the business, providing everything the bank asked for, it came down to one thing. The banker turned me down because I had no money. If I had had money or equity, he would have loaned me money. I was upset because if i had the money, I would NOT have asked for a loan. But now I realize that it takes money to make moey. And if you have money they will loan you their money,so you don't even have to use your own money.

I even had letters from a wholesaler that guaranteed a price for the tanning bed equipment incase of default. But thebank only wanted real estate, bonds, or cds as collateral. And in todays financial crisis occurring because of derivatives and greedy uncollatoralized loans, the world is sinking fast and it is so ironic.

In this business, there are so many variables that the old way of building up an event from scratch like nearly everybody here has done is the way to do it. Look at our heros like Larry K, Ben A, Rich S, who have all done it that way.

Good Luck!

10-10-2008, 10:16 AM
Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Yeah I totally want to build everything when I can from the ground up. But sometimes it does help to have a little backing money. I'll do some research and go from there.

Haunting Copy
10-13-2008, 04:56 AM

Here is a press release about a haunt in Canada that received a grant from the city's tourism department.


Anyway, I was thinking about your situation as I was reading it. In your first post, you said some people thought it was a "waste" and that funding was limited, so I'm guessing you're in a quite small town.

Even in small towns there are tourism/business/historical groups who will open their ears to new ideas - especially if they see something in it for *them*. What I have found in talking to people is they don't realize the revenue potential for haunted attractions. They may be imagining their neighbor's haunted garage from back when they were kids, and since they probably haven't been to a haunt since they were like 12, they can't envision how far the industry has grown.

And that's what you'd have to prove to them.

If it's worth the effort to you, you can make a presentation. It wouldn't have to be fancy, just convincing. Once you got a few of the town's business leaders on board, start-up may move along more smoothly.


Greg Chrise
10-13-2008, 08:13 AM
That isn't a "grant" from the city. It is Fort Henry coming up with additional re enacment events to make up for falling tourism. Fort Henry is one of Canada's national historical sites.

I can't imagine Americas Park Dept allowing a gypsy haunt into any national park or landmark. Some parks have been operated by private companies but such an occurance would mean the end of their contract.

American cities do not give Grants, they might let a charity use a city owned facitity?

A grant is awarding money that provides some service to the community or population at large.

Once you already own an attraction that has all the bells and whistles it is very easy to place it somewhere and find and existing organization that needs a boost raising funds. However, the haunt items have generally been built up over years with private funds. Funds that came from working somewhere or from many peple who have worked and become part of the investment.

Plus if you read the papers or watch TV right now in the present economy, students in america will not be even able to get college loans in the coming season, grants are being diminished due to the operational cash flow problems.

In America building a haunt comes from getting personal loans that must be paid back with intrest or by doing with out some luxuries to accomplish this goal. It can be done from having smaller events and reinvesting all the funds that were obtained from ticket sales over the course of many years.

For example If you have props, you join forces with a party rental place and get paid to decorate a corporate halloween party that is spending $20,000 on a company picnic that happens to be held in October. Or you find a haunt group that has had lack luster results because their show is lame, put props and masks in the event and get a percentage of the revenue. With increased inventory and more locations served equals more revenue return on your investment. It s work not magic or money from the government you don't every have to pay back.

Eventually you have sufficient resources and experience to start your own haunt. If you were unfortunate enough to have to begin at this level, it can still be done.

You can get credit if you already have money in assets and proven balance sheets of operation. By that time you don't want anyone getting a percentage in most cases. Private investors will forego intrest payments if the revenue percentage equals or exceeds what they would get in intrest. In many cases that 20% or 30% you are going to pa out IS the total profits on your event that could have been reinvested. Do you want to grow or be a moocher that at some point loses an event and still owes money to other parties?

Everything must be paid for and that takes work. Then it is a resource or if it isn't active, it is something taking up space that might cost something. If things are sitting around they are also rotting away.

You have to think more like a merchandiser, the haunt or party is your product. Even some really big attractions still owe mask makers money years down the line. How dd this happen? The mask or prop makers partook of the ticket sales as an investor of sorts with a resource already fashioned. None of it has been a gift from God or the Government. The money comes from ticket sales. Why would someone give you free money so you can sell tickets?

All you need is a piece of dumpster cardboard and a borrowed magic marker to do that. Where does the you need money part come into this?

Haunting Copy
10-14-2008, 10:05 AM
Greg makes excellent points. My post, though, was not so much intended to show a specific route to follow, but rather a way to start thinking about various ways to approach a grant proposal.

For example, if you happen to be a minority, you can go to www.cfda.gov to seek out programs that might benefit you.

It's just a place to start. :)

For your needs, Gothyc, I don't think I'd recommend a grant, anyway, simply because of the enormous amount of time it takes in researching, writing, securing, and reporting. By the time you finish all of that, you could have raised your own funds by way of added services, like parties, as Greg and the others have suggested.

And, by doing those other services, you are also getting your name out there in the community. The best advertising of all!

Aside from those two options, you may want to consider micro-loans. Your local chamber of commerce should be able to point you to local sources.

10-14-2008, 01:26 PM
Yes there are some valid points indeed. Well in generally the ideas was of curiousity. I know that grants to any degree will take time. I figured while researching and applying for siaid grants, we would build our props and wall panelsa and such when we could. Then when if any grant does, hypothetically is approved, the this would be to help secure a place to hold the event, as say like a deposit.

I have thought of a similar idea of having/making props and putting them for rent, but got to think about any liability issues and such, unless we were onsite running them. you know those people around christmas time will go and put up your christmas stuff you so you don't have to. Well I thought about a similar company, but for halloween yard decor and such....lol.

So in a sense. I am just researching all possible ways to find finding and grants popped into my mind. If setup right, it can serve the community by getting some of the high school kids involved. they volunteer time, and you write of a volunteer waiver for their school they have give a sort of community service and to still participate in the huantings. I don't have time to write any more now but will add more when I can.

7pm At home now, can write more. I was at work earlier. We plan on doing a lot or what we can to get the community involved. The area we are in, or would like to put it at is a small town. But it would bring some minor economy during the season if townies have to come out to see us. We were/are planning on speaking to someone at the local Chamber of Commerce, but figured it would be best to get some idea of a plan/proposal for them to look at. We had also thought about the local county fairgrounds, we asked for pricing of rental space and told them what we were wanting to do. The lady we were speaking with said she would contact us. A Month goes by and she says " I've mentioned it too the board but they would like more info from you." I told her that if we knew what a going rate was, we would be able to better plan a floor plan which would give final sq.ft. of the area we need. There are plenty of exhibit barns/halls that would be great. Even thought if we knew other haunters, then we could have a bigger show to promote for the area. But they dropped the ball and didn't seem to serious. We explained what it would do for the area and for them because of other vendors we would try to setup for outside of the haunts i.e. food, souveneir stuff and whatever would be a good sellers.

So money wise, what it would mean for us is to secure a spot in advance for a future venue there or whereever we are trying to go for. I would never look at grants as a quick fix and hope for a $100,000 grant, thats less than likely to happen unless our propsal is GREAT. So in researching this and what others say. It gives us things and suggestions to work on. To have a pretty good propsal to hand out. So I am hoping this makes sense.

I'm all for making it work for everyone involved whether is exposure for a local artist, product supplier and etc. Just need to find a good starting point or direction.

Thanks for reading.