The Essentials of Fundraising

Mike Lawson • Fundraising • August 7, 2008

One of the most vital aspects of many school music programs is fundraising. The cost of musical equipment, travel, performances, and any other of the many projects associated with successful ensembles can overwhelm any school’s fixed budget, especially in a flagging economy.

The challenge of raising funds, more often than not, falls squarely on the shoulders of school music directors. They must decide what the best options are for raising funds, and they also must motivate students and parents to join in the effort.

SBO recently contacted 10 music directors from all over the country to get their detailed thoughts on fundraising what works and what doesn’t.

Barry Trobaugh
Band Director
Munford High School
Munford, Tenn.

We usually try to do 10 to 12 fundraisers per year, and this past year we raised $353,000. Our longest-running fundraiser has been the fruit sale. We get all of our 600 students involved, taking orders for two weeks, and the fruit is shipped directly from our supplier, Langdon Barber Groves in Florida, and delivered by our students. Some years we have seen upwards of a $30,000 profit. We have a good bit of success with each of our events, in part because we have culled the ones that have not shown significant profit or student/parent involvement. Still, we are definitely feeling the impact of the sagging economy and we have had to raise our band fee slightly to compensate.

The keys to successfully raising funds are simple. You must have a tangible goal you are aiming for, one that the public can both appreciate and champion. You really need student and parent involvement to ensure that all are engaged. To be honest, if the cause is genuine, the product is secondary. We very seldom engage ourselves in candy sales or items that have only pennies for profit. It simply takes too many sales and hours to raise the funding we need. Integrity, honesty and a cause must be evident to everyone in the community. Students must be coached as to their delivery and also understand that there are consequences for not participating. Everyone involved must be motivated.

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