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asanve
10-30-2008, 08:32 AM
Do most people charge for home haunts? Do they ask for donations only or do they charge a regular admission price? Are some large enough that they actually sell tickets in advance? Any help with this will be greatly appreciated.

HauntedMemphis
10-30-2008, 10:27 AM
It varies greatly. Professional haunts all charge, that is what makes them professional haunts. Some are businesses doing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Most yard haunts don't charge, and those that do look for donations, not admissions. Once you charge admission, you are a business and have a lot of legalities you need to comply with.

Mr Nightmarez
10-30-2008, 10:38 AM
Most larger Home Haunts have a "TIP JAR" and accept donations. As stated: If you charge - you are considered a business and must comply w/ state and local business codes.

asanve
10-30-2008, 03:23 PM
Most larger Home Haunts have a "TIP JAR" and accept donations. As stated: If you charge - you are considered a business and must comply w/ state and local business codes.

Is it possible that a home haunt can grow to be big enough that it would bring in enough money to pay for the insurance, permits and etc. involved to run it? What if it were being run by an organization, such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and all the monies collected were split between the two groups? Does this make things any easier to accomplish legally?

Haunting Copy
10-31-2008, 04:42 AM
Most larger Home Haunts have a "TIP JAR" and accept donations. As stated: If you charge - you are considered a business and must comply w/ state and local business codes.

I would advise against calling your money collection a "tip jar," though. Tips are considered income by the IRS. You wouldn't want to inadvertently be considered a business.

Sarah

UnDeRTaKer313
11-02-2008, 12:46 PM
do something like a required donation
you might end up making more

we literally had people throwing money at us on there way out cause they didnt think it was fair that it was free. it was the greatest thing ive ever seen

asanve
11-03-2008, 08:57 AM
do something like a required donation
you might end up making more

we literally had people throwing money at us on there way out cause they didnt think it was fair that it was free. it was the greatest thing ive ever seen

So when asking for a required donation, do you specify how much you feel should be donated (for example: required donation is $5 per person)? What is a fair $ amount when asking for a required donation? All the money we make goes to our Girl Scout troop and Boy Scout Venturing Crew. These kids work hard and give up their Fri., Sat., and Sun. nights for 3 weekends in October to run this. We have had great feedback from everyone who has come through. We asked for a $2 "admission" this year, but I understand asking for admission makes us a business and thats not what we're about (at least not yet). We are interested in going pro eventually, but is that possible at a home haunt? Any input would be greatly appreciated. By the way, saw your pictures (building your haunt etc.)--It looks absolutely incredible!

Greg Chrise
11-03-2008, 11:16 AM
One of our charities decided like October 28th they were going to have a free haunted house where it has been a $10 donation for a few years. We rushed in about a fifth of the pro haunt in one day.

The fliers went out 2 days before the 2 day event and they got 800 people but only raised about $350. So in this experiment, apparently sight unseen a haunt is really only worth $2.28

If they had gone ahead and set up the whole affair they would have made $8,000 even with screwed up last minute advertising on this number of customers.

From what I can tell, a home haunt level offering sees 5 times as many people and makes Way less money. Even a free car wash people will spring for $5 or $10 because it is for charity.

Lose the word "required" and simply say $5 donation per person. Maybe kids under some age are free. Put a girl scout uniform on a skeleton with a sign "starving Girl Scouts need your support"

At home haunts I have seen the donation box at the end. I would have it as an entry fee before the haunt. If your event is a fund raiser, you just have to be serious and firm about raising funds.

If it was advertised to cost $10 and only run two nights, I had origionally thought they would see maybe 160 people and maybe a group of 5 would be one man giving $10 and raise $320. Again they saw 800 and made $350. That $30 I was wrong about came from selling hot dogs for $1 which were donated but cost money. I was really wrong about how many would show with the word free.

They got a local guy to provide a bounce house and a big inflatable slide. A local resort paid for a band and did the vending thing on their dime to raise donations.

Because it was a small quick offering for us, I got to see where a few inefficiencies are in how having people think they are really helping that are actually making work. If it was a pro haunt set up what we provided would have billed $1200 for moving in, set up, operational stand by and tear down. Behind the scenes there are costs in refurbishing and storage.

So it wasn't really free. 3 local businesses came in with maybe $5,000 worth of stuff so they could make $350 in hopes they will return to their full blown attraction in the following years. maybe 10 actor worked their butts off with very few breaks. One one occassion they grid locked the large parking lot, creating the dangerous situation of people parking on the shoulder of a 55 MPH highway.

Very few have figured out that how many customers you can serve is directly related to how much parking you have. You can have an excellent 20,000 SF haunt but if you can only park 15 cars you will have the overflow just drive to the next haunt even if it is 40 miles away. If you are talking home haunt, parking in front of other peoples property is the biggest complaint. Strangers throwing trash and making noise, pulling up with ghetto music in front of their property univited.

If you event is decidedly low key to not over run the place with people it might be tolerated. Getting the idea it is a pro haunt at home or advertises widely will bring problems. Yet, I have seen one night parties of 1500 people served very nicely on 14 acres.

Along this area, neighbors have even complained so much about events parking in front of their property that church run festivals (that ran annually for 10 years)have been canceled for ever. It isn't just a haunt thing, it is a neighbor thing.

Nothing kills an event like having a bad car accident out in front of it or having someone ran over. Also you don't want potential customers coming away from you event only remebering the dent caused by other cars backing into it. None of this happened but, it could. It is a very high likely hood. The punishement for not providing adequate anything is obviously you can't do this here. Every case of you can't do this here is no one can do this in this city.

Also, when you pick out how much an event costs, you have picked what kind of customers. Each price commitment is a different customer and these free customers will not cross over when this event again charges $10 a person.

For me all the what ifs have been answered. I've never heard of a pro charity lcation going to free. They did so because they temporarily do not have the space or the man power for a big event. They were intrested only in keeping the word out that it still exists as an event.

The other things I learned...Smaller events have no through put problems. No money or planning for drinks and meals means the actors are acting. When it is free, there is nothing wrong with shutting down at 10:00PM. This is when the people stopped coming. So on the one night they ran through 500 people in about 2 hours. There is also something to be said for having months invested in an event vs being in and out in 2 days. This limits how much work you as a suporter actually lose that would other wise make an income.

For half a second there, seeing the hanted house sign being my only notice, I thought they were going to use my props, masks, costumes and lighting because they were stored there and not offer any compensation for wear and tear/replacement. How great is that, someone donated all of this stuff, we could have a haunted house! Even though we support this charity, I still pay MY helpers real wages and had to look at all the hours of time handling all the small things as costing real money that would never be compensated. Yet, this means you totally gave everyone else control of your stuff, whether you are included in the event or not. So, years past I have considered my percentage like I have sold these things to them.

Once a charity changes people and ideas every year they kind of make up their own little ideas. It's a very expensive education but, you certainly don't want to add injuring people to you resume.

Over the past experiments, you do even on a small event want to get 20% of the income to cover expendable things like masks, hardware that fastens everything, refurbishing damage and reinvesting toward a larger and better event or to help for moving/storage costs. Other costs would be adding to your insurance policy and paying for permits and inspections or bail money if you are found to be negligent somehow.

asanve
11-03-2008, 07:26 PM
One of our charities decided like October 28th they were going to have a free haunted house where it has been a $10 donation for a few years. We rushed in about a fifth of the pro haunt in one day.

The fliers went out 2 days before the 2 day event and they got 800 people but only raised about $350. So in this experiment, apparently sight unseen a haunt is really only worth $2.28

If they had gone ahead and set up the whole affair they would have made $8,000 even with screwed up last minute advertising on this number of customers.

From what I can tell, a home haunt level offering sees 5 times as many people and makes Way less money. Even a free car wash people will spring for $5 or $10 because it is for charity.

Lose the word "required" and simply say $5 donation per person. Maybe kids under some age are free. Put a girl scout uniform on a skeleton with a sign "starving Girl Scouts need your support"

At home haunts I have seen the donation box at the end. I would have it as an entry fee before the haunt. If your event is a fund raiser, you just have to be serious and firm about raising funds.

If it was advertised to cost $10 and only run two nights, I had origionally thought they would see maybe 160 people and maybe a group of 5 would be one man giving $10 and raise $320. Again they saw 800 and made $350. That $30 I was wrong about came from selling hot dogs for $1 which were donated but cost money. I was really wrong about how many would show with the word free.

They got a local guy to provide a bounce house and a big inflatable slide. A local resort paid for a band and did the vending thing on their dime to raise donations.

Because it was a small quick offering for us, I got to see where a few inefficiencies are in how having people think they are really helping that are actually making work. If it was a pro haunt set up what we provided would have billed $1200 for moving in, set up, operational stand by and tear down. Behind the scenes there are costs in refurbishing and storage.

So it wasn't really free. 3 local businesses came in with maybe $5,000 worth of stuff so they could make $350 in hopes they will return to their full blown attraction in the following years. maybe 10 actor worked their butts off with very few breaks. One one occassion they grid locked the large parking lot, creating the dangerous situation of people parking on the shoulder of a 55 MPH highway.

Very few have figured out that how many customers you can serve is directly related to how much parking you have. You can have an excellent 20,000 SF haunt but if you can only park 15 cars you will have the overflow just drive to the next haunt even if it is 40 miles away. If you are talking home haunt, parking in front of other peoples property is the biggest complaint. Strangers throwing trash and making noise, pulling up with ghetto music in front of their property univited.

If you event is decidedly low key to not over run the place with people it might be tolerated. Getting the idea it is a pro haunt at home or advertises widely will bring problems. Yet, I have seen one night parties of 1500 people served very nicely on 14 acres.

Along this area, neighbors have even complained so much about events parking in front of their property that church run festivals (that ran annually for 10 years)have been canceled for ever. It isn't just a haunt thing, it is a neighbor thing.

Nothing kills an event like having a bad car accident out in front of it or having someone ran over. Also you don't want potential customers coming away from you event only remebering the dent caused by other cars backing into it. None of this happened but, it could. It is a very high likely hood. The punishement for not providing adequate anything is obviously you can't do this here. Every case of you can't do this here is no one can do this in this city.

Also, when you pick out how much an event costs, you have picked what kind of customers. Each price commitment is a different customer and these free customers will not cross over when this event again charges $10 a person.

For me all the what ifs have been answered. I've never heard of a pro charity lcation going to free. They did so because they temporarily do not have the space or the man power for a big event. They were intrested only in keeping the word out that it still exists as an event.

The other things I learned...Smaller events have no through put problems. No money or planning for drinks and meals means the actors are acting. When it is free, there is nothing wrong with shutting down at 10:00PM. This is when the people stopped coming. So on the one night they ran through 500 people in about 2 hours. There is also something to be said for having months invested in an event vs being in and out in 2 days. This limits how much work you as a suporter actually lose that would other wise make an income.

For half a second there, seeing the hanted house sign being my only notice, I thought they were going to use my props, masks, costumes and lighting because they were stored there and not offer any compensation for wear and tear/replacement. How great is that, someone donated all of this stuff, we could have a haunted house! Even though we support this charity, I still pay MY helpers real wages and had to look at all the hours of time handling all the small things as costing real money that would never be compensated. Yet, this means you totally gave everyone else control of your stuff, whether you are included in the event or not. So, years past I have considered my percentage like I have sold these things to them.

Once a charity changes people and ideas every year they kind of make up their own little ideas. It's a very expensive education but, you certainly don't want to add injuring people to you resume.

Over the past experiments, you do even on a small event want to get 20% of the income to cover expendable things like masks, hardware that fastens everything, refurbishing damage and reinvesting toward a larger and better event or to help for moving/storage costs. Other costs would be adding to your insurance policy and paying for permits and inspections or bail money if you are found to be negligent somehow.

Thanks for all your input. I didn't realize just how many aspects there are to consider when doing this sort of thing. I really like the idea of the girl scout with the sign tho--that's great. LOL We were open three weekends this year and ran about 720 people through my house where the haunt is located. Everything went smoothly but I know that can't be expected every year. Generally all the money we make is split between the two groups. I love Halloween and have always decorated, so I just buy everything and the kids help with the set-up and the running of the haunt. I put nothing in my pocket from what we make but I think I would love to go pro one of these days. In the meantime I don't know how much longer to do this at my house. Do you think if we charged a regular admission at the home haunt it would be possible to make enough to cover the cost of permits and insurance?

shawnc
11-03-2008, 08:43 PM
Greg

Great observations.

Greg Chrise
11-04-2008, 11:18 AM
I have no idea what is traditionally included in California Home Owner's Insurance. In Texas we can add to existing liability policies for $300. It already discloses that there would be only upright walking thru an event, no crawling, bending under obstrucions, no slides, steps or slippy surfaces.

Permits and such are usually cheap everywhere like $28 just to register information. As it is for a bonified charity and low key you can get electrical and local inspections sometimes donated or waved. If everyone involved is donating to put the event on, even a county official can get the concept that they shouldn't be sucking money.

Like in my above statements, 3 groups installed all kinds of stuff that has significant value to make a few hundred dollars. The hope is that someday it does learn how to make larger sums of money or the charity and can provide for itself. All of these "sponsors" offered their services rather than were solicited. A few years free or even costing money give you a place when there are greater numbers to advertise to or perhaps having the event available to your customers is all you are intrested in.

I'm guessing the Inflateable guy hopes one day to get a pay check for putting two attractions there right next to his house instead of driving to Kansas.

I know the Resort no longer has a place to do their free haunted event for their customer appreciation and needs the faciities.

I see myself as more like a party rental company or a trade show display group. If I put in a bill for the big haunt every year it could be $10,000 a year wether they saw 300 people and raised $50 or not. I get the charity to provide most of the labor and live with 20% of funds donated. On the same token, I offer lots of my time and knowledge that isn't directly compensated for. Every time you do something even if it is allowing people to do things their way so they learn is valuable information. Sometimes it is spotting who is an idiot. It costs a lot of money to train people or allow them to learn at their own pace to a level of quality. It is even tougher when it is a seasonal regrouping. Everyone wants to be the boss. You have to let them flounder around a little bit.

Normally trying to get sponsors for some thing that only sees 700 people would be impossible. Very few businesses actually have the same customer base coming to a haunt as want to pay for their services.

Basically you are investing in the future in many ways if you truely want a pro haunt or even a grand scale haunt benefiting young people. It takes time to develop the contacts, find those similarly inspired and run into those with equal or better resources and skills.

Somehow it always seems if you say such an event will pay for insurance or the storage fees, it will alway fall short. Just get used to that for a few years.

icarian
11-04-2008, 12:03 PM
i would suggest accepting donations. i wouldnt say tips, i wouldnt say required, and i wouldnt suggest affiliation with ANY charity or non-profit.

Your best bet would be to put a sign up of some sort, maybe with your "Rules of the house" that explains that this is a massive undertaking, if you like what you see, please make a donation to keep the haunt going year after year. You would be surprised what people will give if they feel its a valid cause. Doesn't have to be charity, if parents see what you're doing as something that enhances their kids' holiday, you'll get quite a few donations towards youre expenses.

general rule of thumb though, the minute you start charging an admission, you ARE a pro haunt. Even if its a "donation of $__ per person" if they cannot enter without donating, you are charging an admission and subject to all insurance, fire-codes, and taxes.

It is highly doubtful that you'll profit from your home haunt, but you can re-coup a lot of your costs and build up enough props and effects to eventually make the jump to pro.

Greg Chrise
11-05-2008, 11:13 AM
I'll have to agree with icarian..

If called on it you may want to say it helps the girl scouts but if promoted this way it might be annoying and actually decidedly passed on by potential customers.

Just say Haunted House $5

I passed going to one haunt for years as they were listed on every free TV community board as benefiting a theater group in a small town. Who gives a crap I would think for years. Then another haunt dexcribed this 20,000SF totally up to date experience. I went there and was impressed. None of the haunt actors were in fact also theatrical people. The money all but, $3,000 per year did go to the local playhouse. On such a low budget, they had as wel a reputation for decades of black plastic and how the little kids love it even though the modern haunt has none of this. People prejudge and shouldn't be given too much information where they can wrongly prejudge you. This great haunt offering consistently had low attendance and could not figure out why. They also never took advantage of any free internet listings as that might require some one that has a computer and money for a web site.

Perhaps just being grouped with the free listing on TV community boards with car washes, church harvest gatherings and petting zoos is not the place to be.

Believe it or not the tax codes and business practice laws and ethics rely on individuals honoring their responcibilities. Certainly you will want to retain records and even get reciepts of donations you have made to an organization. Still, most of what you buy is tax deductable (to not be federal taxed) but, there limits on personal spending in such forms. How you file this information is relative to whether you are an employee somewhere or own an existing business or decide to make this enterprise it's own business.

Some charities do have a successful culture of donations, so you just go with the flow. Yet, you have no control of what is done with the donated money. You can work very hard to earn some charity ice machines, garage door openers and Christmas parties. I don't have any of those things so I charge and want my money.

icarian
11-05-2008, 11:21 AM
again, i would stress puting out a "donations keep this going every year!" type of sign. to accept donations you DONT have to be a charity or affiliated with one.... look at all the websites that accept donations to recoup webhosting fees, or college kids with a paypal donation button on their myspace.

the minute you say $5 per person is when you open yourself up to IRS issues, as well as a plethora of many other headaches.

Greg Chrise
11-05-2008, 03:48 PM
IRS issues on something that is going to lose money or at most make $1500? Aren't you kind of making up all kinds of rules and fears to limit yourself?

What would the taxes be on $1500? $300....BFD. This is a start up business and chances are will spend all of that money for the following year's development. If you are starting a business and couldn't figure out how to make a proper expendature where you had to pay no tax, you are just being lazy or patriotic or something. The whole idea of the tax code is to invest in something that provides either gainful employment or otherwise supports the community. To build resources and once those resouces provide a profit, then and only then are you taxed.

Taxable income is that which you take as an employee or is generated from some activity as income that buy things you don't really need over and above $8150 per year.

Over come your freaking fears and walk into an IRS office and get the TOTALLY FREE tax book. Then read it over and over until you understand it.

The total concept of a haunted house means in the beginning you can get total crap out of a dumpster and convert it into $50 from either a donation or flat out ticket sale. In the beginning you have to move 400 dumpster loads of stuff in order to make any money that could be translated into sitting on your ass wearing bling bling money.

Untill you are harvesting more than $8100 from the fat of the land no one cares. If it is under $400 and that is all you made that year you don't even exist. Likely it is such a small venture that it will fail and is not worth the IRS paying someone's wages to try to figure it out. If you make a mistake they make a determination and send you a bill. Sometimes they even send you money or give credit, earned for trying to engage in positive activity.

No shit, the whole world is full of made up rules that no one is enforcing unless it can somehow be used as an excuse not to do something that might benefit someone other than themselves. IF you are going to limit yourself with little rules, the only safe thing to do is only go to your job where everything is taken care of by your employer and stay in at night enjoying everything they have for you on TV.

If there is never going to be a pro business eventually, go ahead and pay your employee taxes and spend only your extra expendable income on haunted house things instead of flashier cell phones, quicker internet connections and gold teeth. If it is a small business you are engaging in, you record your investment and do not pay taxes on that amount over and over and over. The intent is to not have the same endevour double or tripple taxed. You invest money. It doesn't become a profit until you stop spending money and take the money to do something else not related to that ongoing investment.

If you are already a business owner, you buy materials and pay labor and keep the resource that ultimately helps someone. This resource might be subject to state inventory tax, but Whether an expendature or a donation, off paper there is still a box of scary masks that can make someone money until it rots. Even the tax code knows everything rots and is not available for ever.

This scenario mentions benefiting girl scouts. Are IRS agents sitting around in $40,000 government unmarked camera laden vehicles waiting to recover 1 in 5 boxes of cookies for themselves and other government employees?

Are you using this halloween thing as a front for selling crack and not paying taxes on the profits?

On this one 2 night free haunted house, I just got my $96 haul. I paid out $135 in labor today. It probably cost me $20 in gas to go get that $96. I wrote this all down in my daily business report EVEN though it is all cash. It gets lumped into all my year long business services. By itself where is the profit? Did it not prove to be an investment or burden on my other services? Actually taking away taxable income? I will most likley go tear the thing down and haul it out myself rather than part with any other big stacks of cash I have laying here. Now that is far more of a headache I think. Did I need a special certificate of charity and have it on file and somewhere on a wall a framed copy of the transaction? No.

Next year I'm just going to drive around the loop until I find a girl scout and hand her a stack of cash. So much easier. Maybe I can roll my employees for their gold teeth and hand them to a girl scout? Here ya go little girl, go to camp with a little bling bling.

I think working totally for free is far more of a headache. If they want to tax me on that they can come get me. Not only work for free, spend all of your expendable income over years and years but be your own accountant. Spend hurs uncompensated recording your stupid acts of kindness. Yes 5 years from now this chicken scratch explaining what a stupid hopeful person I am, perhaps with a note of some pathetic self obsevance is available in a file cabinet if I get raided. You only have to keep records for 5 years and I'm so lazy and transparently an idiot that I have 15 years worth of file cabinets in there.

Maybe I'll commit suicide 3 years from now because I probably couldn't handle the paper work when it actually makes $10. I'll just have a suicide note that says in red crayon "Please refer to posts on Hauntworld"

Greg Chrise
11-05-2008, 04:18 PM
If you bought all this Halloween crap and lumber from a retail store, you already paid sales tax hence, no inventory tax. Inventory tax would be for a tax exempt purchase of crap that was warehoused or furnited to sell a product. Providing a service is different.

I can't wait until I'm dead, the IRS and tax attorneys will spend 4.5 million tring to decide how to divide up my $10. And who gets custody of my puppy? Crap I better make out a will and testiment so my puppy is a dimenair and makes it into the social columns.