• Fundraising – It’s Easier Than You Think

    Todd Rogers | August 20, 2023Our team at Bob Rogers Travel has had the privilege of planning incredible performance travel experiences for over 40 years. One thing we believe just as strongly as we did when we started is this: Travel changes everything.  Performance travel expands your students’ horizons, brings classroom lessons to life, and builds stability for your program. […] Read More...
  • Focus on Fundraising

    Mike Lawson | June 12, 2021Students are coming back to the in-person classroom, and travel spots are filling fast! In the June issue, SBO editor Mike Lawson presents a wide array of helpful hints from some of the great fundraising companies out there to help schools raise funds and get their students back on the road. Read More...
  • Why Start a Booster Group?

    Mike Lawson | May 8, 2019

    With so many other tasks on the metaphorical plate of the school music director, why might one want to go through the efforts of starting, or improving, a booster group?

  • The Music Booster Manual

    Mike Lawson | April 10, 2019

    Part 1: Introduction

    Your school music program should be 100% funded by the school, the district, and the state. Unfortunately, for most of us that simply isn’t the case.

  • Fabulous Fundraising for Your New School Year!

    Mike Lawson | July 14, 2017

    SBO details some of the hottest fundraising opportunities for 2017/2018, to help your music program raise the money it needs for uniforms, equipment, band travel, and more!

  • Peer to Peer: Fundraising

    Mike Lawson | August 20, 2014

    Directors nationwide share fundraising strategies that work

    Fundraising is one of those peripheral activities that can add a tremendous amount of strain to a director’s already full workload. On the other hand, it also serves to enable fantastic opportunities and resources for individual students and the ensemble as a whole. In an ideal world, the fundraising activity is one that students enjoy participating in, doesn’t take too heavy a toll on either the director or the students in terms of planning and execution, and, of course, brings in enough profit to make it worthwhile. As an added bonus, the right campaign can also be a great bonding experience, as well as a chance to build community awareness about your band.

    SBO recently reached out to music educators around the country, asking directors to describe the campaigns that work best for their programs, how to keep students engaged, and any tips they might have for maximizing the profit-to-effort ratio.

  • Grant Writing: Winning the Prize

    Mike Lawson | January 7, 2011

    When one considers the research, paperwork, writing, and valuable time involved with learning about and applying for grants, it’s no surprise that many are dissuaded from even trying. However, garnering funds for a school music program is an investment in the future. Securing large grants can be challenging for any program – it usually only comes with a great deal of patience. Research suggests that it is in the music educator’s best interest to build a network of foundation and corporate sponsors, for gifts both small and large. To get an idea of what organizations look for when allocating grants, SBO did some research and called upon experts, both from the educator’s perspective and that of the grant giver, who offer a few insider tips.

    If you’ve decided that you want to apply for a grant, the first step is finding a granting agency that best matches your program and needs. The easiest and most inexpensive (free) way to find the right grant opportunities is searching the Internet. The best places to search are the federal government, state governments, foundations, or private businesses, as these are the top granting entities. Grant writing seminars may be helpful, but the cost may be prohibitive. These seminars cost, on average, anywhere from $400 to $700 for a two to three-day workshop. Grant writing seminars are held all over the country and are hosted by various enterprises, including the federal government.

    If you have found the grant that you are looking for, now is the time to take the opportunity to learn from others’ oversights and gaffes in the grant writing process.

  • The State of Fundraising in a Fickle Economy

    Mike Lawson | August 5, 2009

    Fundraising can be challenging for any school's music program. How does a music educator convince his or her school district to pump money into the music department? How does a band director motivate students and parents to organize a car wash or a fruit sale? How does one convince a community to fund a high school band's trip to China? In the best of times, this can be laborious work for any band director. And, as we all know, the past year has not been the best of times economically. With staggering unemployment rates, crippling budget cuts, and consumer fear, how are school music programs going to secure the funds they need in the coming year? SBO recently contacted band directors who are not only facing this challenge, but are doing so in states that have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

    Vince Clayton: Due to the economic crisis, I believe most families in our area are watching their budgets more closely and are being very selective when spending money on the various fundraisers that are offered. Although our school district is in good shape, I do have parents who have lost their jobs. There are other schools and organizations close to us with worthwhile causes. We have to plan carefully and know our target groups.

    We've had to make adjustments to our fundraising efforts. We look for the less expensive ticket items. Instead of the $18 cheesecake, we look for slightly smaller and less expensive items. We use a local fundraiser company. Our booster club raises about 40 percent of the entire budget. Families pay about 36 percent in camp fees, and the school and district budgets make up the remaining 24 percent. We have been fortunate to find a local fundraiser who understands the needs of our program and the community that we are in. We have been loyal to them, and they have been loyal to us. We also have an active booster club with parents who find new ways to meet our needs.

  • The Foundation Center A Resource for Grant Seekers

    Mike Lawson | January 19, 2009

    Whether to help with musical instrument or music technology purchases, teacher training and educator workshops, or enhanced opportunities for students and ensembles, securing a grant can work wonders for a school music program. One fantastic resource for educators looking to pursue such auxiliary funding is the Foundation Center.

    This New York City-based organization has amassed a tremendous database of philanthropic entities and developed a broad spectrum of tools and information for nonprofit groups seeking funding. In addition to five central "library/learning centers" and hundreds of affiliated "cooperating collections" located around the country, the Foundation Center also offers a plethora of learning material and helpful grant writing information through its Web site,

  • The Essentials of Fundraising

    Mike Lawson | 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.

  • Show me the Money

    Mike Lawson | February 5, 2007

    While grant writing can be quite a challenge, the payoff can be monumental. Just ask our panelists. These music educators have seen their share of rejection in applying for grants, but they didn't let that stop them - and neither should you. SBO asked these seasoned veterans about the trials and tribulations they encountered on the path to securing music funding and the invaluable lessons they learned along the way.

    Meet the Grant Writers:

    Robert Klevan
    Monterey Jazz Festival Jazz Education director
    Monterey, Calif.

  • Budgeting: Music Teachers’ Money-Saving Secrets

    Mike Lawson | October 22, 2006

    In the teaching profession, sometimes it’s difficult to keep necessity purchases to a minimum – particularly when the music education budget is slashed year after year. When there’s no money for incidentals and last-minute or “emergency” needs, where does that money come from? The music teacher’s own pocket.

    According to a recent SBO survey of 100 band and orchestra directors, 76 percent of the survey’s participants revealed that they occasionally – and, in some cases, often – must supplement their music education budget with their own money. In many cases, the money is spent on office supplies or “emergency” sheet music that wasn’t included in the original budget.

    Michael Carbonneau, director at Mansfield Middle School in Storrs, Conn., sums up the most cited reason for taking this route: “It is often easier to outlay a little cash rather than go through all of the red tape.”

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