Summer Fundraising Idea: Backyard Movie Night

7.6.15 Fundraising Idea - Backyard Movie Night


Give the car wash shammies a break this summer and host a fun and creative “Backyard Movie Night” to raise funds to attend the YVC Summit in October! Follow these simple steps to make it a night to remember.

The Crowd

Choose a family-friendly movie and then invite as many people as your yard will comfortably fit. Think beyond your YVC group and invite classmates, neighbors, church groups, etc. Let them know to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs. You should provide snacks, drinks and the movie. Let them know all about YVC and how your group hopes to attend the Summit. Charge a nominal “ticket” price of $5 (or adults $10 and kids under 11 are free, etc) or simply ask for donations.

The Logistics

Projecting a movie is simple with a few pieces of equipment. You’ll need:

1. A laptop computer or DVD player

2. HDMI cord

3. Portable speakers (plug into the headphone jack or use Bluetooth speakers)

4. Projector (ask your parents if they could borrow one from work or inquire with churches and libraries about rental options)

5. A light-colored, flat surface such as a garage door or white wall. If you don’t have one, follow the steps below to make your own screen.

  • Attach white (preferably blackout fabric found in craft stores) to 2, 10-foot lengths of 2”x4” wood using a staple gun. Attach an eye-hook to the top of each piece of wood and tie roping 6-8 feet long to each.
  • Place each wood plank in a 5-gallon plastic bucket and fill around with gravel. Stretch the screen taught by moving the buckets away from each other.
  • Tie the ropes to tent stakes and then pull them out tight to stabilize the screen.


Place your projector on an even surface and connect it to your DVD player or laptop using the HDMI cord. Be sure to test your movie and sound several hours in advance of your guests arriving.

The Invitations has several free, movie-themed invitations. If you don’t have email addresses for all your guests, a personal phone call has a high success rate. Put flyers in your neighbors’ mailboxes, hang signs on community bulletin boards, and ask churches to add your event to their bulletin. Get creative to get the best crowd!

The Food & Drink

If the movie is the main attraction, the food is a close second. One idea is to go beyond plain popcorn and set up a popcorn bar. Use large bowls to hold the popcorn and provide small cups for scooping it into brown paper bags. Use glass jars full of mix-ins like candy, pretzels, dried fruit, and seasonings, etc. and allow your guests to create their own treats.

Some popular popcorn seasoning combos:

Pizza Flavor (parmesan + oregano)
Cinnamon Sugar (sugar + cinnamon)
BBQ (brown sugar, paprika, cumin, chili powder and salt).

For drinks, you can set out coolers full of water and soda cans or you can create fun summer mixes of your own.  Click here for 25 Party Drink Recipes.

The Decor

Creating a “theater” space in your yard is your chance to get creative. String up lights or lanterns. Pass out “tickets” to each moviegoer. Make signs with big, block letters embellished with dots for a marquee look at your entrance and at the snack/drink table. Turn wooden crates or sturdy boxes upside down and cover them to create little tables to hold your guests concessions. The possibilities are endless.

Be sure to include those little touches to keep everyone happy and comfortable. Provide bug spray, wet wipes for sticky hands and have extra sweaters or blankets on hand in case it gets chilly. If you need help selecting a movie, check out Parenting Magazine’s list of the 50 Best Movie for Kids.

Need more advice? Check out our other post of 10 Simple Fundraising Ideas for Youth. Email Charity Ohlund, YVC Development Coordinator, with any questions.
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