As a parent of a student, you’re probably no stranger to fundraising. From Little League car washes to bake sales for the Girl Scouts, fundraising is an important part of extracurricular activities. As funding continues to be taken away from school music activities, fundraising will become even more crucial for school bands and orchestras. Fortunately, school band and orchestra programs are backed by dedicated parents who are eager to see their child’s music program succeed. Whether in the form of Christmas tree sales, car washes, raffles, or magazine sales, here are some tips for a successful band fundraiser.
Work With the Right People
When it comes to running a music program, there are a lot of expenses you may know nothing about. From uniform rentals to instrument repairs, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes items that can quickly add to the bottom line. For this reason, you’ll need to sit down with the head of your child’s music program and a representative from the booster club to determine a) how much money is needed and b) how it’ll be spent. If these two items are clearly outlined, parents and volunteers will be more focused and motivated to raise funds. Good planning is a key to success: if you don’t have an entire year of fundraisers and events planned out at the beginning of the school year, you’re doing it wrong.
Establish a Leadership Team
As a part of successful fundraising efforts, you’ll need to be as organized as possible. This includes putting together a committee. This group will be responsible for contributing substantial amounts of money to the event, while encouraging others to do the same. Typically composed of wealthy donors, business leaders, or local celebrities, the leadership team isn’t responsible for actually running the event, but will act as the “face” of your campaign. Note: if you don’t have access to these types of individuals, consider replacing the committee with a leadership team; a group of parents who are especially dedicated to raising funds and are willing to go above and beyond with donating their time.
Decide Who to Partner With
Partnering with the right companies and professionals is another important aspect of fundraising. For every company that makes promises and doesn’t deliver there are five more that will be willing to work with you and tailor fundraisers to your needs. Before partnering with a company for your band’s next fundraiser, there are a few things you should find out:
- How long has the company been in the product fundraising business?
- Do they offer any value-added services, and how much do they cost?
- How will the company tailor its program to suit your specific needs?
- Does the company comply with state sales and use tax laws that could impact your program?
- In the case of an emergency or problematic situation, how responsive will they be?
If the company is known for working with other music programs, ask if they have any samples on hand. Even better, ask for personal references from parents or booster club members from other schools.
Choose the Right Program
It’s unfair to ask relatives and family friends to contribute hundreds of dollars to fundraisers they’re not interested in. Therefore, it’s up to music directors, booster club members, parents, and students to develop exciting ways to fundraise that won’t take up too much of their time, energy, or money. One of the most educationally sound ways to raise money is by centering fundraisers around live performances. After all, if you’re going to ask people for donations, they may want to see for themselves its all about. Other fundraising programs to consider include community dinners, garage sales, and silent auctions. For even more ideas, check out some of our favorite ways to raise funds.
Promote, Promote, Promote!
Without promotion, something terrible happens- nothing! Once your fundraising program launches, never miss an opportunity to promote it. According to the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors and Suppliers (AFRDS), parents who have an understanding of the fundraiser’s goal are more likely to purchase more products. In the months and weeks before a fundraising event, place posters around the school and send children home with newsletters. Put together an email list and keep everyone up-to-date. Every chance you get, communicate the specific goal of your fundraiser. Instead of saying “We’re halfway to our goal” say something like “We’re halfway to 40 new uniforms for the homecoming game.”
Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”
When it comes to fundraising, saying “thank you” can go along way. Not only does it make contributors feel appreciated, but it can even convince them to donate in the future. The same goes for volunteers, members of the committee, and parents who go above and beyond the call of duty. Whether in the form of hand-written thank you notes that are signed by all the kids or customized emails, make sure everyone involved in your event feels appreciated. One course of action would be to send thank you gifts based on the amount donated: emails for base-level donors, gift baskets for premium donors, and something in the middle for everyone else. Whatever you do, keep your donors happy, especially since you’ll probably be asking them for another donation or two down the line!
Want more? Learn How to Help Keep Music Programs in School.
photo via Lucas, CC