Once upon a time, I was a high school band director. Our program was a pretty agressive one, and our goals for performance were lofty. I had decent support from the school district, and I had tremendous support from a committed booster organization. The band had traditionally taken a spring trip that alternated between smaller regional trips and larger destination trips.
The kids in my program were some of the hardest working kids I’ve ever come across. The community was predominantly working middle-class, and the one characteristic that I heard over and over again from colleagues was that my kids were “tough”.
Before I graduated from college, I spent time on the staff of Washington Township Marching Band from Sewell, NJ. Here they are performing in the 1998 Tournament of Roses Parade. Unfortunately I missed the parade with a stomach flu in the hotel room! but it was a fun week! YouTube clip is here.
Our big trips normally consisted of bowl game festivals (late December and early January) or springtime festivals. We participated in Disney’s Magic Music Days, which I’m positive many of you have experienced as well. The price tags associated with these trips was generally pretty manageable, and our boosters did a fantastic job of coordinating a fundraising calendar with contrasting opportunities for the students.
The one thing that we sometimes struggled with (and I suspect many of you debate with your directors/boosters), is the balance between fundraising for the organization and fundraising for the students’ activity accounts. The director has goals and needs, like paying bills, staff, repairs, etc. Any fundraiser is a commitment of time and resources from the program, and there are only so many days in a week. The band boosters (acting in the role of “parents”, but understanding that not all parents are boosters and not all boosters are parents!) want to do everything they possibly can to defray the cost of any big trip experience.
When band boosters are in the process of planning high school band fundraisers, there is generally no shortage of fundraising ideas. Some of the options you may review may work better as band trip fundraisers, while others can serve as “plug&play” for just about any need your band boosters may have.
I wanted to build a list of factors that ought to be considered by band boosters when planning band fundraising in the macro sense (especially when a large trip or expense):
- Org versus Individual – Can you find a way to blend the two? Can the campaign be conveniently and efficiently structured where both the Org and the student “make out”? This may be more conducive to some fundraising campaigns and less to others, by the way… *
- Schedule and timing – if the Org is a marching band, for instance – how does the fundraising calendar mesh with when deposits are due, or when other student expenses are due?
- Logistics – if you are working with a fundraising company and they tell you that the sale ought to take “X DAYS”, plan on padding this number. Also when considering the delivery and distribution of product sold (YUCK), build in additonal time (HEADACHE). Obviously you can tell we are not fans of the order/delivery model of fundraising, but your mileage may vary….
- Appetite – I’m not taking about what candy to sell here, but I’m referring to the fact that some fundraisers are popular with some and dreadful with others. Some annual campaigns become relied-upon pillars of your calendar (for instance – “wrapping paper” sales in early to mid November in preparation for the holidays), but other fundraisers will quickly become tiresome and not worth the effort. You may want to think about objectively evaluating your fundraising, possibly even going to the length of a quick SurveyMonkey. You may be surprised what hidden opinions you uncover!
- Fatigue – when you continually go back to the same well for more, eventually there will be some fatigue. “Oh great, ANOTHER band fundraiser.” Trying things that represent a departure from the norm is a great way to shake it up. We happen to think “crowdfunding” works great for this, since it is easy to get the campaign in front of distant friends, family, and networks via email and social media, and there is nothing to buy. Here’s more on that.
- Consider the NEW – think about trying 1-2 new fundraisers every year, but be purposeful in what you select. Are you speaking with boosters in your neighboring band organizations? What about your sports teams, and the campaigns they are planning?
With excellent planning, communication across all stakeholders within the program, and preparation, it is very possible to tackle HUGE campaigns by taking “small bites of the elephant”.