Last week we travelled to Texas for TMEA – one of the largest gatherings of music educators in the United States. Over the course of 4 days we had dozens of conversations with educators as well as students and parents, and across all categories we saw a few key concerns come up repeatedly:
Marching productions are getting more expensive
We know that putting a quality program on the field or floor isn’t a cheap proposition. More and more programs are relying on props, scenery, costuming and equipment choices that are customized for the group, and that cannot always be easily recycled into other productions (that ‘Great Wall of China’ scenery can’t be turned into something else easily enough!). Costs to design/build sets and props – PLUS – the rising costs of transporting to performances is getting out of hand quickly.
The costs to stay competitive are skyrocketing
I’ve always believed that a program’s largest recurring investment ought to be in the design and staffing area, and with a relatively small group of world-class designers available to highly competitive groups, their time comes at a premium. Most districts can only cover basic show design, arrangement, and staff fees (maybe an assistant director or 2), but the reality is that superior design and instruction – while vital to the growth and achievement of your program – is the most expensive thing you’ll be investing in (but so worth it).
Product sales and conventional fundraisers seem to be losing steam
Many programs sell a variety of items throughout the school year, but the one thing we heard again and again is that these fundraisers do not typically make a high percentage of profitability, they require paper forms, handling cash and checks, and are sometimes downright annoying and frustrating. We heard that many of these product sale opportunities aren’t quite making the cash that they did 3-5 years ago, in that less units are being sold, and the companies facilitating these sales are increasing their take. That mattress sale might bring you a big windfall of cash the first couple of tries, but some find that the total sales volume tails off dramatically after a couple of tries.
Rising costs are outdistancing district budget allocations
While costs have increased, district budgets have not increased along with escalating costs (remaining flat or worse yet – budget cuts), creating a financial deficit in many cases. Boosters, band parents, and music aides are forced to make up the shortfall. Even in the great state of Texas, arts programs are being cut in some areas.
Groups are looking for easy and “gentle”
Programs are continually seeking something simple, easy to launch and manage, and low-impact enough where the fundraiser doesn’t cause a lot of stress and work. Large “event style” fundraisers take a toll on families as well as educators and administrators, especially those in charge of ways-and-means, fundraising chairs, etc.
We’e not saying you SHOULDN’T undertake conventional fundraisers – but we ARE SAYING that you might as well consider fundraising that’s easy, built for today’s online world, and something that’s simple and gentle on your students and families. Click below for our $10,000 Blueprint.