View Full Version : Need input about charity based huant

04-30-2009, 11:35 PM
For the past 2 years I've been running a free homehaunt. With my 3rd year coming up I've got to the point where I'm unable to really grow in size and a lot of my scenes are limited due to space.

I've had several guests state they can't believe I don't charge and how much better my stuff is compared to local so called pro haunts.

Now I've talked with a couple local charities/groups that are very interested in me taking my experience, props and knowledge and using it for a fund raiser. Both think its a great idea and are more than willing to help out with a location, expenses as well as ensuring I get a cut for my efforts. I'm not considering this to generate a profit, but if I can supplement my addiction and help out others simultaneously why not.

I'd like to hear from others who run a haunt that raises money for a charity or other organization. Any experience or advise you could share will be greatly appreciated.

I'm not looking at home vs pro haunt info (i.e. insurance, building code, fire marshalls, haunt expectations for paying customers, etc...), but info related more to working with a group/partner if you will. What headaches came along, what types of things should I consider, etc...

Thanks in advance

05-01-2009, 09:34 AM
I have worked with a lot of charities over the years. Some good, and some not so good. My advise, is to make sure you get whatever deal you make with them in writing. Charity leaders and organizers have a tendency to make promises based on their volunteer staffs, and volunteers can very easily flake out on them leaving you in a lurch.
We still donate to some charities, but I donít ask a lot from them in return. Usually just help in promoting the haunt. Any other help is often more of a headache than it is worth.

05-01-2009, 12:43 PM
My family's haunt works with several charities in the community. Each charity has a role in our show, whether they are taking tickets, running our pumpkin patch during the day, or supplying actors, etc. The trick is not giving too much control over to them, and limiting their roles. When you ask them for anything other than the bare necessities, they tend to get overwhelmed, or try to take over.

One of my main helpers put on a haunted trail 100% benefiting the YMCA. He had 25 actors, and a short trail with a lot of neat contraptions. All the money supported the Y center and he just donated all of his personal time and props to the project. The problem came when they shut the Y center down... and he had no place to go.

Good luck.

05-01-2009, 05:53 PM
All the money supported the Y center and he just donated all of his personal time and props to the project...
Good luck.

This is basically what I'm looking to do. I'm expecting the worse, but hoping for the best. I've already started thinking about limiting there input/control. Getting things in writing is a good idea (something I hadn't thought of).

I think I can get them to provide a facility, insurance, and promotion. As long as they don't want to get to involved into the haunt itself I think we could be successful as well as enjoyable for all. We'll just have to see.

Thanks for your responses.

Greg Chrise
05-01-2009, 09:30 PM
As the charity delgates who will be in charge each year, the rejustifaction of the behind the scenes expenses and how quickly or if you get your percentage can easily be over looked. In a volunteer situation everyone else just shows up and gives their time and leaves and they expect you to do the same. Yet, the haunt itself and the props may have off season storage expenses that never stop unless you have a plan for that.

If the location is only available seasonally over the years it will also be offered for all kinds of other seemingy productive things that will take over your space. Yet, the charity will expect all of your harware can be adapted to any available situation even sitting outside for months. So, you may infaxt have not been compensated enough and it is entirely up to you to physically go move everything to secure it and even hire help to get it all done with no support from the charity. All they care about is the event. Once it is over, you hear things like Halloween is over. Yet the expenses and maintenance never stops.

This is a great opportunity to build and operate a haunt but, you may infact have to later build another pro haunt and never take any of these first facilities away from the "community". This being said, it is all part of your local market being built up which each element gets so inter related that the charity returns will not seem so noble. It gets to having to do it no matter what unless you could somehow move out of that town to make the insanity stop and take your toys with you.

It is possible to be a philanthopist and not have a dime to your name for decades. There are great wonders of impowering people and effecting people's lives for good and even greatness. Bottom line is you are still the only one with a physical monetary responcibility. It might only be $100 or so a month but, it never stops. It may grow and as well down the line it may have a few seasons that are completely canceled but, the securing your investment/resources cost never stops.

At least I have never been able to just say no yet or finally donate years worth of work or sell it out from under the "community"

In the beginning you have all kinds of wid imaginings that each year you will just make more and better and the old can be sold or become something else someday. Then the actual workings of a charity that are not people who worry about marketing until about 2 weeks before the door opens become a flat line limit to how many customers can be brought, how much your percentage could possibly be, unless of course again you personally commit to taking on that task as well at your own expense.

Do you have the means to blow $3,000 to $5,000 per year? Great if you can. It might be instead of going on cruises, having a motor boat or motorcycle, nothing wrong with a great hobby. A haunt however starts becoming semi loads of stuff that need loaded up, moved, kept somewhere. It is bigger than a bicycle or a second special car or tickets that fit in your pocket.

Do you or anyone in your family have a history of back problems? You and a bunch of people that in years to come wil be ex friends will have lots of lifting to do to keep this thing in all it's pieces and parts secure.

Instead of having a time share looking out over a lake, you end up with looking at some shitty semi trailers all year long wondering if you might be a dumbass. I went from storage garages to semi trailers. At that point storage is free only because I have a regular business big enough to have it on the lot.

As I see those trailers I wonder if they were filled with something else that makes $75,000 per year each or even $10,000 each per year Instead of makes $10,000 a year for the community. Or all that same effort could have been a pro haunt to begin with and become a total income. Yes, the local boys I supported all along broke pro in the same town and made almost $100,000 their first time out. Instead, years and years of seasonally being a real sport. Which where I'm originally from means dumbass. Years and years of $3,000 to $5,000 add up to lots of stuff. The more stuff you have, the more you have to take care of.

The older it gets, the more it rots. Wild imaginings of good and greatness become that's all they really deserve. Then a full blown recession hits and maybe you can't come up with $3,000 to $5,000 every year. Then what.

It can all be a tax deductable expense as it is all for charity but, you still have to make that money somewhere and actual percentages and percieved percentages in actual people's minds vary toward it should all be free, why do you need any money, that isn't the spirit of charity taking a cut. Then you are some pig devil making a buck off of charity. Nothing wild has been imagined.

But, the up keep never stops. Be very prepared to after it is all second nature to be able to actually do plan B. Plan B is you are dissapointed and going pro since no one cares, do you still feel as excited about it years down the road having gained so much knowledge and filled out your imaginary resume? Or in the end are you a sport, broke, with semi trailers of crap? What do you do with this crap when it is integral to the marketing of even the pro haunts?

It isn't worth much money campared to what went into it. Maybe 20% of what it cost. What if I wanted a different regular business that didn't have the space for semi trailers? Am I sort of being held back by being a sport? Sure there is that identy of being a haunter and all and having to explain every weekend why the best car you have is a hearse. Because you haven't really spent $3,000 on a vacation and never really rested.

Then I have seen all kinds of situtions helping others with their haunts. The set up crew of 50 is actually a bunch of 12 year olds that really shouldn't be lifting 90 pound walls. The adults that showed up for the free lunch really just thought they would supervise or watch how the pro does it. Since he is going to get money and all, it's like hiring movers isn't it?

I've thought of setting it up in an open field and making a video on what happens when a haunted house catches fire. I don't have any video equipment so I have to keep doing this charity thing. Maybe someday, something I actually have enough energy to do beyond working every day will come to pass. I could die too, that would be a way out of it. Then there would be a vasiline coated lens photo on TV for about 20 seconds and a mention of how I helped the community. Not enough money for a proper funeral even though he has coffins to choose from and a hearse because he spent all his money on this Halloween thing when no one else seemed really that enthusiastic about it?

Maybe the Bud light announcer and that back up singer guy could do a spot, real men of genius. We salute you mister charity haunted house guy.

Greg Chrise
05-01-2009, 10:23 PM
Where are you located?

Mr Nightmarez
05-05-2009, 05:24 AM
I actually did a seminar on this @ NHC.

Get everything in writing #1. Are you doing this as a 3rd party event or how? A lot of questions before answers...

I'm busy but shoot me an e-mail and I won't bore everyone w/ it all!!



06-16-2009, 12:11 PM
Thanks for all the great input everyone.

Only 14 work weekends left till the haunting season. I know it's late in the game, but I will be meeting with the fund raising officer of a local charity on Friday to work out the major details of the haunt.

The charity (Habitat for Humanity) already has lots of volunteers, resources for building materials (lumber, paint, foam, etc...), free to no cost advertising, and the person I will be working with is a Real Estate agent that is pretty certain we can get a location donated or at least for a small amount short term lease.

Wish me luck!

Mr Nightmarez
06-18-2009, 05:50 AM
Good Luck and hope my powerpoint helped! :)

06-19-2009, 09:05 AM
Good Luck and hope my powerpoint helped! :)

Yes it did. It was very informative and I greatly appreciate it! Hopefully this will be a great experience for the charity, local community, and help promote haunt industry in a positive manner.

Thanks again!