Take My Money, Please

Mike Lawson • ChoralPerspective • November 4, 2018

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As editor of both Choral Director and School Band and Orchestra, I’m a pretty easy mark for kids coming around and knocking on my door for a fundraiser for their programs.

As a former choir and band kid, I’m a supporter anyway, but given my job, I’m an extra-easy fundraising target. I know the massive value of travel for music students, and also get the need to support these programs in their everyday needs.

Just before Labor Day, the local high school marching band sent a group of kids around our neighborhood with an interesting fundraiser. They were selling a five-time service of showing up in the wee hours of the morning to raise an American flag on my lawn for flag-raising holidays, for $50. They would come around at sunset and take it away until the next holiday. Great idea. Loved it. Sign me up. Oh wait, I don’t have any cash. And being that it is the end of the second decade of the 21st century, I don’t write paper checks. Heck, I can’t remember the last time I wrote one and I haven’t had a checkbook in several years.

“What are my payment options?” I asked. The young lady said, “Cash, check, or PayPal.” PayPal? Awesome. I pulled out my iPhone, opened the PayPal app, she gave me the payment email address and I sent the money. I showed her it was sent, she marked me down as a sale, and a few days later I had a flag in my yard on Labor Day. They walked away happy.

A few days later, I did a gig with my band and got paid for it in cash, there was another knock at my door. A couple of girls from the local middle-school choir were selling stuff. And wow, did they have stuff! A whole catalog of stuff, with prices all over the map. “What are my payment options?” I asked. They said, “cash or check.” I reached in my front pocket and found out I actually had $25 in my pocket and ordered a vanilla-scented Yankee Candle from them, which I’m supposed to get sometime in November. It is so rare that I have cash. That’s just how it is for me. Now, the girl who did all the talking was a good salesperson. She could easily have had me spending $50 that day, but because I didn’t have more cash on hand, don’t write checks, and nobody offered her another way for us to pay, I could not, even though I would have. Still, they walked away happy.

A few hours later, a Boy Scout came around selling stuff. I asked him, “What are my payment options?” He said, “cash or check.” I said, “Sorry, a couple of choir girls just got my cash a couple of hours ago, and I don’t write checks. PayPal? Credit card?” He walked away unhappy.

The moral of the story? It’s time to up your game when it comes to fundraising. I want you to take my money. I want to support your booster program, fundraisers, school trips, whatever it is. You have to make it easy for me. If you don’t, your students walk away sad because I didn’t buy anything, you raise less money, and I look like just another cheapskate who won’t support them. There are so many ways to make sure you can take my money these days. PayPal. ApplePay. Square card readers. Get creative! It is a problem that has solved itself for you, only you need to pick options and implement them. If you want to increase your sales, expand your payment options. Take my money, please.

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