Why Start a Booster Group?

Mike Lawson • Fundraising • May 8, 2019

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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?

Most music directors tend to think things can get done better and more quickly if it’s handled by the director themselves. In some ways this is true. A booster group will meet on a monthly basis, which will require more of the director’s time in attendance and preparation for the meeting.

There are concerns about organizing volunteers and managing the leadership. A booster group may open the director up to conflicts and power struggles. But the benefits of a booster group that is successfully managed can be a massive boon to large and small programs alike.

Here are just some of the reasons you may want, or need, to start a booster group for your school music program, in spite of the foreseen challenges of doing so:

• In addition to fundraising, your group could completely manage volunteers for events as well as all the aspects of travel and tour planning.

• Your booster group becomes your core advocacy group, assisting with marketing your music program and public relations. From concert promotion to requests for increased budgets from the school district, your booster group will be at your back to support and help manage these tasks and challenges.

• By asking boosters to volunteer their time, effort, expertise, and financial assistance you are ensuring their commitment to your music program on a psychological level as well. People care more about organizations that they give to.

• Volunteers from your group may also be able to help with student leadership retreats, band camps, parades, uniform fittings, organizing the music library, shuttling instruments, taking care of sick or injured students…and anything else that is not associated with the teaching of the curriculum.

As you can see, your booster group can truly be your right hand in many ways, assisting with the wide variety of tasks. And remember, these are adults, not students, and will not require the same level of micro-management that your students do. So, put aside thinking that a booster group may not be able to help you- they can help you in any way that you feel comfortable.

This section is for those of you who may not have a booster group at all but are now determined that it’s the right fit for your program. Getting your booster group off on the right foot requires communication and cooperation. Ensuring excellent communication right from the start mitigates risk that someone will feel “out of the loop” and can also prevent future misunderstandings.

Every individual that can be considered a shareholder in your program should be part of this circle of communication: administration, staff, parents, volunteers, sponsors and donors, and the students themselves.

Begin by making a list from your circle of influence outward to help you identify those who need to be involved first. This might include:

• Other teachers in your school- especially if you’re creating a booster program that might support all of the music, arts, or electives. In a smaller school, tapping into these other teachers is essential.

• Your school administration- ensure that they understand the need for the booster group and what types of activities they will be engaging in.

• Dedicated parents- think of those who show up to concerts, already volunteer, communicate regularly, with students that are engaged as well. Next, make a list of all the tasks that you feel the booster group could manage, which will be entirely non-pedagogical.

Make a second list clearly stating the tasks that will remain the director’s responsibilities. You can grab the free download of Booster Group Activities from the online resource page: ProfessionalMusicEducator.com/Boosters

You should now have three lists:

1. Reasons why your program needs a booster group

2. People to communicate with first

3. Activities you’d like the booster group to manage

Once you have these, it’s time to engage in a series of informal yet important (and exciting) meetings.

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