If you’ve ever been on a conference, you’ll know there’s that tricky Saturday night conundrum: do you put on another worthy Thing to fill up the time and keep people busy, or do you just open up the bar and let people relax together after a heavy day, running the risk of some feeling unable to join in? At the Messy Church International Conference, we opened up the realms of the imagination and invited all who could cope with the absurdity to join us for a Messy Murder Mystery!
It had a very simple setup – a brief introduction setting the scene, introducing both the victim and the suspects. Then there was a 50-minute carousel with those six suspects, who rotated in turn around the six groups of ‘detectives’ and poured out their guilty secrets in response to a few minutes of thorough interrogation by the group.
The setting isn’t the Orient Express or a World War II bunker: it’s a Messy Church. The lethal pesticide Vole-de-Mort is involved… deadly plants… Botox… the world-famous Tangy Tomato Tart, a lot of silliness and nothing too risqué so that this can be an all-age event.
Just print off the resources, add your best performers, one or two props, a few bottles of whatever helps people relax, sit back and enjoy. You could make it into a fundraiser for Messy £100 and charge an entrance fee, or simply put a donation bucket out.
Nothing beats a good whodunnit – the opportunity to discover your inner Marple, Poirot or even Holmes while enjoying good company, great food and raising money for a fantastic cause!
Get your friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours together for an occasion of deduction, cunning and accusation – after all, who can resist a night of spirited super-sleuthing?
Ten tips to help you plan your Messy Church Murder Mystery fundraiser
- Know your costs: Compile your budget, crunch your numbers – be exact on expense and expectant on earnings.
- Cultivate a culture of generosity: Award a prize for the evenings ‘Super Sleuth’, ‘Best Costume’ or ‘Most Outrageous Accent’. Think creatively – approach businesses for sponsorship/donation’s or make a special Messy Church trophy.
- Promote, promote, promote! Generate a buzz of excitement by asking local shops and businesses to display your eye-catching posters, advertise in the local press and make a splash on social media.
- Cast your net wide: Is there a local councillor, town mayor or personality who would like to take part or attend and provide local interest? Invite your local amateur dramatics club, GCSE or further education students to take the leading roles and boost ticket sales.
- Have fun and raise funds: Provide lots of fun ways for others to boost the amount you raise by having a photo booth, themed sweet stall, silent auction, raffle, ice breakers such as Heads or Tails or a Messy Church collection box for every table… be imaginative!
- The more the merrier: Encourage people to bring along friends by selling family tickets, table tickets alongside individual tickets. There could even be a ‘Superstar’ option, where individuals purchase tickets for those who may struggle to afford the ticket price, enabling you to give tickets away and protect your profit.
- Set the scene: Consider if you want guests to arrive in fancy dress. Should you have suitable props scattered around, atmospheric music playing, etc.?
- It ain’t over till it’s over! Engage your guests by letting them know you plan to take photos and post them on your church website/Facebook page. Gather emails so you can inform guests of future events and, if you are SUPER organised, have an event that you can hand out invites to as your guests leave.
- Don’t be a hero: Build a team to help run the Murder Mystery and oversee the food and drinks, sell/take tickets, take care of posters, promotion, prizes and props, plan a budget, set up and tidy down, etc.
- Time flies: To begin, you need to gather a team and agree a date. At least two months before your Messy Church Murder Mystery fundraising extravaganza, start advertising and selling tickets, perhaps offering an early-bird discount. Decide whether you will be providing a meal or buffet, begin sourcing costumes, cast the play and start rehearsals. If needed, approach local companies to ask for donations and put out a request for volunteers to help on the night. If you’re planning to sell alcohol, apply for a Temporary Event Notice. With one month left, continue promoting your event through every conceivable avenue. Ensure you have enough helpers on the day, collate a list of volunteers and allocate roles. In your last week, compile a list of guests’ names to tick off on the door, hold a dress rehearsal, agree a running order and get ready to have lots of fun!