Trivia Night Planning Guide
“Hold a trivia night” they said, “it’ll be fun” they said …
But I jest. Holding a trivia night is a great way to raise funds for your organisation. Depending on the size of your group and if well planned, Trivia nights can be quite lucrative raising anywhere from $1,000 with some groups reportedly raising upwards of $10,000. Whilst that all sounds very tempting, it will take some planning to make it a successful event.
Trivia night questions should be designed so that at least 80 percent of the questions will be answered correctly and should also cover a wide variety of topics thus ensuring everybody will have a rewarding evening. Trivia nights are perfect school fundraising ideas as well as for sporting clubs and kindergartens.
Trivia nights can add a (sometimes much needed) social aspect to fundraising and can be a fun way to make new friends. After all, you’re all there for the same reason – to support your school, club or organisation – so you’ve got that in common.
It also gives people something to ‘do’, so it can be great for the introverts too.
Delegation is key
No matter what your experience level in fundraising, organising a Trivia Night is best shared. If you have a good team of volunteers around you, you’re well on your way.
Also, keep in mind that you can keep things very simple. If you don’t go overboard in prizes (certificates and token prizes), then the preparation is much easier.
Set a goal, a budget and a date for your event. Consider what other events or times of year to avoid so as to ensure you get the best turn out possible. Try to avoid the end of the year (November onwards), and also things like football and other sporting finals that could impact numbers.
Draw up a list of what needs to be done and talk to your volunteers about their strengths or where they feel they could provide the most help. This will assist with assigning jobs. There’s no point in allocating procurement of prizes to someone who would much prefer a behind the scenes role and vice versa.
Some things to consider when putting your list of jobs could be:
- Where will the Trivia night be held?
- What date and what time?
- How will you attract people to your event?
- How will you sell tickets?
- What are the prizes?
- How will you get the prizes to the venue?
- Do you need to hire equipment?
- Who is the MC?
- Who is preparing the trivia questions?
- Who will print answer sheets & provide pens/pencils?
- Do you need to order beverages if you are selling alcohol? Is a permit required?
- Who is setting up the venue for the event & clean up afterwards?
- Do you need to consider any contingency plans – what could go wrong? Include all the things you need: refreshments, equipment, transport, prizes.
To theme or not to theme …
Some people love a good dress up and others would probably prefer the sound of nails down a blackboard. Personally, I love a themed event and if your trivia night is planned near a celebration, you can take advantage of that and have a best-dressed table prize. Some ideas of themes could be: Halloween, Easter, Christmas, black Friday, Hawaiian/beach party, Mexican, St Patrick’s Day. The list goes on and on and is only limited by your imagination, however, a word of warning – keep it simple so that your audience won’t have to splash out a lot of money for their outfit giving them more cash to spend on the night!
You can leave it open also – where it is simply a costumed event and each table gets to decide on their own theme. You can even have them BYO decorations to decorate their own table!
Running sheet & Event Format
Prizes for raffles and auctions – prizes for 1st and last place (wooden spoon) are a good start, but depending on your budget, you could stretch it too 1st and 2nd, or even 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
If your venue and technology allow, a powerpoint presentation showing questions as they’re asked and a running score sheet might be useful, but keep in mind you will need someone to run it on the night. This can be a great way of thanking your sponsors too!
If you are decorating the tables, a lovely idea is to include centrepieces, perhaps made with chocolates or scratchies, that can be auctioned for each table. Here is an article we have written about centrepieces to raffle or auction.
Event Format –
- Teams of no more than 10 people should be encouraged. Small teams (eg: 4 people or less) should be encouraged to join ‘forces’.
- typically 5-8 round of trivia questions (15 mins per round)
- Rounds are interspersed with other mini comps and activities/fillers, auctions and raffles (see below)
- possibility to do a brief presentation to show fundraising goal/purpose
- ticket price is a big consideration ($10-$20, or a per table price) – depending on the audience
- catered or BYO?
We have an example Trivia Night Run Sheet in our Resource Library that you are welcome to download! Become a VIP member (it’s free) and you can download any of our resources.
Perhaps the most important element of your night is the trivia questions!!
You will probably have a range of trivia ‘buffness’ in your room – so you will need to cater with both easy and difficult questions.
Here is an extract from an interview we did with organiser Cheryl Kotzur about Trivia Nights:
She said the most important barrier to overcome when organizing a trivia night is to make the participants feel confident about answering questions. “You want people to think, I know a bit about that, I can bring something to the table,” Mrs Kotzur said. And this is where the questions come in. Having questions that stimulate conversation help to remove the “I’m not that smart mindset” and create a relaxed conversational atmosphere. “You want people not to know the answer straight away but for it to come up in conversation,” she said.
If you don’t want to take any chances, you can get in a professional quizmaster for your event. Take a look here for some more information.
For those keen to DIY, a printed question sheet is also a great addition – it can be left on the tables throughout the night. It might have famous faces, logos, geography, flags, famous landmarks – this is limited only by your imagination!
Examples of topics for rounds (sets of 10 questions) include:
- General Knowledge
- Arts and Literature
- TV and Movies
- Your local area/ history
Quite possibly, the person who volunteers to MC the evening will also volunteer to put the questions together. This is a big job as all answers need to be checked thoroughly for accuracy. If not, look at purchasing a quiz night pack or have a go at writing your own.
Probably one of the most crucial things to think about when planning your trivia night. If no one knows about it, then no one’s going to show up!
There are lots of ways to advertise and timing can be very important. As soon as you’ve decided on a date for your trivia night, it can be a good idea to send out a “save the date” notice. This will at the very least put the date in people’s minds early on and in some cases will probably even make it on to the calendar!
As the date approaches, about two months out, start doing some soft advertising. Mentioning it in newsletters or on social media also gives you an opportunity to ask your community for donations or prizes and/or help on the night.
Definitely set it up as an ‘event’ on your Facebook page as this can be an easy way to remind and share it among your community.
Remember to include advertising in your budget if necessary for printing/distribution of flyers and any other forms of advertising that may have costs associated with them. Think about the kind of crowd you want to attract and the best means of advertising to reach them.
Social media is a great way to spread the word. If you have a Facebook page, create an event and invite people and ask them to share your event. Post flyers at your school, club (or where ever you are legally allowed to!) and ask your members to post flyers at their own workplaces to get the word spreading even further. Some local newspapers will list community events for free and this is a good way to attract the locals. On social media, you can find community noticeboards where you can post your flyer and you may even find devoted trivia groups who are always looking for events to attend. Last but definitely not least encourage family and friends to spread the word. They are can be some of your biggest supporters and will gladly help out where they can.
Whatever your chosen form of advertising, it should clearly state the following at least:
- time and date of the night (e.g., “7pm for a 7.30 start”)
- the venue, including details on where to find nearby parking
- the cause for which you are raising funds
- the cost of tickets for the night and whether they’re to be purchased prior (with a link if online purchasing is available) or on the door at the night
- a contact person, phone number and email address for inquiries and bookings
- whether people are expected to bring their own food and/or beverages
It can be a cool idea to do a ‘countdown’ to the event on your social media page to keep it front of mind.
A great way of increasing the excitement is to ensure you have great prizes. No one is expecting a first-class round the world plane ticket, but you want to have something a bit more exciting than a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine as your first prize. This is where sponsorship can play a very important role.
Don’t be afraid to approach local businesses to see if they can donate something prize-worthy, whether it be the local butcher – who doesn’t love a meat tray?, or even your local Bunnings. You’ll often be surprised at what businesses are willing to donate and this will give your budget a bit of breathing space. Consider how many prizes you will need (include your raffles) and go from there but also be prepared to be told no. With so many organisations competing for donations, don’t take a “no” personally. This should be one of the first jobs on your list of things to do as it can be one of the most time-consuming. Don’t expect just one person to be responsible for prize procurement. After all, many hands make light work.
No matter how big or small the donation, make sure that you thank all of your sponsors on the night. It’s can also be nice to send them a certificate of appreciation or something similar. This will not only make them feel good about their donation but can leave the door open for future donations.
- The pr
Aim to play at least 3 games played during the course of the evening and a prize needs to be awarded to each winner. The prizes need not be anything extravagant (a bottle of Champagne, a box of Chocolates or a book are some examples).
Here are some of the ideas our Facebook community offered when asked about tips for a trivia night:
- Get some local businesses involved and ask them to sponsor a round for $100/$150/$200. For this their business is announced before the round commences as a sponsor, logos on printed materials etc. 8 rounds will get you $800 or even $1600 without much work.
- Quiz hosts are great but not for extra money – they usually do free games more than squeeze more money from ppl. A quiz host is for you if you don’t have the time and resources to come up with the quiz and present and run the night all yourselves. Some also bring prizes with them.
- Bump the ticket price to $150 per TABLE of up to 10 – then you don’t have to chase up individual tickets- the team leader will be doing that for you. You can still offer half tables and match tables together if people can’t get 10 friends together themselves.
- Bar- can you run your own bar? This is where the $$s are!
- Perhaps a big-ticket item raffle for $10 tickets capped at 100 tickets or something and get the prize donated.
Originally published 23 July, 2019
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