Finding theater funding online

Donors still have a few weeks to take part in an online fundraiser to save the Webster Theater and get prizes for donating.

The Help Entertain and Restore Organization, HERO, is hosting their campaign on the website “Indiegogo.” With about three weeks remaining, the campaign has raised a small portion of its goal of $34,125. HERO Planning Committee Members Deb Brown and Jeff Pingel said they think the fundraiser has been slow to start because community members don’t know how it works.

When visitors go to the webpage, they’re greeted with information about the theater and a link to contribute. When donors give certain amounts of money, they are eligible for perks. Those perks include T-shirts, movie passes, a bottomless bucket of popcorn for a year and more.

“You make a contribution to help reopen the movie theater, and in exchange, you can get a prize in return. Like, there’s a T-shirt on there for $35.” Pingel said. “The $50 bottomless bucket of popcorn is a steal if you’re a movie guy like me.”

The online campaign is just one way that HERO has been raising funds to reopen the Webster Theater. Recent events included the poster sale, which raised $1,384 and a dodgeball tournament sponsored by SHIFT Happens that raised about $300. Brown said the Indiegogo campaign gives HERO a way to facilitate donations outside of Hamilton County.

“The purpose of crowdsource funding is to reach out to your community but also outside of the community and provide friends and family who don’t live here a chance to support you in your endeavors to donate easily online and getting a perk in exchange,” Brown said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

The Indiegogo webpage features more than just donation links. Visitors can find out about the theater’s history and why HERO thinks a theater adds a lot of value to the small town of Webster City. Brown encourages community members to share the page with friends and family to bring more donors to the cause.

Pingel said that if the online fundraising goal was met before it ends on March 19, they would have more than enough money to purchase a digital upgrade for the theater’s projector. Buying a digital projector is a major goal of HERO’s second phase of fundraising which also includes renovations for the theater building.

As fundraising efforts continue, Brown said HERO is planning another public meeting. At this meeting, which will be held on March 10 at 6 p.m. in the Webster Theater, Brown said community members will have a chance to catch up on where HERO is at in their project. The public will also be able to sign up for volunteer work at the meeting.

“It’s starting to come around,” Brown said. “We bought the building, had a poster sale and we want to do that again, we want to make some popcorn, we want to fix the bathroom, clean the seats, there’s all kinds of ways to volunteer.”

To give to the online campaign, visit WebsterTheater.org and click on the “Indiegogo Campaign” link near the top of the page.