Why Students Do (or Don’t) Participate in Fundraising


After having the opportunity to speak with music boosters and band booster parents from dozens of organizations across the United States, I have come to two distinct realizations:

(1)   Regardless of the fundraiser, a certain percentage of students/families will just refuse to participate – but this percentage fluctuates depending on the fundraising culture of the org.

(2)   Ensemble directors and instructional staff that “push” the concept of fundraising have the best results. Those that choose to stay “arms-length” from the effort do not enjoy the same level of success on a broad basis.

I can share with you that as a former director myself, I did not relish any contact with fundraisers, however I did routinely ask my boosters for talking points for emphasis when I would make end-of-rehearsal announcements. 

I will also be transparent with you and share that I personally was not the best in the areas of rehearsal time-management and often neglected to get those announcements “heard” by the kids as they were packing up instruments and equipment. I am sure many of you can relate to this!

In reflecting on the successes of ensembles that have run campaigns with FansRaise, the campaigns that tend to stick out in my mind as enjoying the highest degree of “success” are the ones where the person on the other end of the campaign (the administrator of the campaign that is communicating with us here at HQ) is either an Executive Director, full-time educator in front of the kids, or otherwise acting in a prominent instructional role. 

I’ll put it another way – a little more bluntly – when the adults that are working with the kids in a leadership or instructional capacity are reinforcing the importance of the fundraiser the results are much stronger and consistent.

Now, does that mean that if a band booster parent wants to be the point-person for a FansRaise campaign – that campaign is set up to be less successful?

Nope. Not at all…


If you want your campaigns to be fully-supported and deeply-adopted by your students – figure out a way to have your directors, staff, executive sponsors get behind your fundraising initiative.


Think about it –  these folks are directly involved in the instructional process. Their business is in getting kids to do things that they themselves sometimes doubt that they can do. They teach, inspire, and they get results from performance that is sometimes mind-blowing. 

When I marched, if my director or section tech would ask me to run across the field and chop down that tree over yonder, my response would have been something like “Would you like the wood as 2×4 or 2×6?”. When kids are deeply-bought into their activity, the best way to get them to put effort into a fundraiser is to tap into that instructional magnetism that the teaching staff has.

To support this, I have to look no further than the results that the Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps had with FansRaise. The crowdfunding campaign was driven from the top-down by director Chris Magonigal, via their senior member leaders like drum majors, section leaders, captains, and tenured veterans. The instructional staff got involved, and the enthusiasm generated by the total drum corps was reflected in their results (they managed to raise almost $24K in about 6 weeks!). You can read about it here.

Also take a look at Cy-Fair High School’s Indoor Drumline. This group of roughly 30 students generated over $10K in just two short weeks! The reason behind this is that ensemble director John Nelson was the catalyst of the campaign, and he’s the Associate Band Director of the program. We analyzed their success in this post.



(1) Find a way to obtain director and staff support (not just agreement, but EMPHASIS) on matters of fundraising and campaigns.

Many directors want to stay as far away from fundraisers as possible. This is probably a good idea, but that’s not to say that they can’t vocally emphasize and hold students accountable for participation.

(2) Assure your teaching staff and directors that they can stay out of money handling and campaign administration.

Make a deal that states clearly  “You don’t have to do anything other than get the kids excited and engaged by simply talking about the fundraising campaigns consistently.”

(3) Find a way to “game-ify” the fundraiser as much as possible.

Tap into the kids’ natural competitive fire by making it a game. Luckily, we also laid out some ways to do this that are easy for you.



Leave a Comment