As parents of music students, you're probably no stranger to fundraising. As dollars
continue to be diverted away from school music activities, many band and orchestra
programs have come to rely on fundraising to keep their programs in tune. The types
of fundraising activities run the gamut: selling Christmas trees; march-a-thons; car
washes; golf tournaments; auctions; dinners; raffl es and sales of candles, coupon
books, magazines, gift wrap, candy, fruit, pizza, frozen food, cookie dough and other
Indeed, candy, magazines, gift-wrap and scores of other popular consumer items are as commonplace in band and orchestra rooms as drums, violins and sheet music. Everything from lollipops to phone cards is sold in the name of music education.
In fact, product fundraising programs help non-profit groups raise nearly $1.7 billion each year, according to statistics from the Association of Fund-Raising Distributors and Suppliers (AFRDS). Schools and school-related groups, such as music programs, comprise about 83 percent of all fundraising sales.
Now that the school year has begun, your group will be competing with dozens of others as fundraising programs of all types (car washes, walk-a-thons, product sales, auctions, et cetera) get underway. Fortunately, school band and orchestra programs have the support of dedicated parents who are eager to see their child's music program succeed.
"Parents will do almost anything to support school music groups because their contributions directly affect their children," according to Russ Colombo, a veteran fundraising professional in Houston, Texas who's spent more than 30 years helping school band, chorus and orchestra programs raise money. Because parents know how the money will be spent, and because it's a more intimate group, it's sometimes easier to generate support for a band or orchestra fund-raiser than a school-wide fundraiser, according to Colombo.
Setting Goals, Proper Planning
Working with your booster club to identify specific needs and set financial goals
are vital first steps in conducting a successful fundraising campaign. With a clear
understanding of how much money is needed and how it will be spent, volunteers
will be motivated and focused. Clearly stated financial goals also will give the
fundraising program a benchmark for success.
Fundraising professionals recommend you get the answers to these five questions
when trying to decide which company to partner with for your group's next
Promotion Equals SuccessP.T. Barnum once said, "Without promotion, something terrible happens—nothing!" Once your fundraising program is launched, it's critical to never miss an opportunity to promote. Three out of four parents who supposed a fundraising program last year were told how the money would be spent, according to a recent consumer survey commissioned by AFRDS. Furthermore, nearly one in three parents reported that knowing the fundraiser's goal infl uenced them to purchase more products.
"Timely, effective communication with parents is key to success," says Colombo. It's important to communicate the goals of your fundraiser before and during the sale because it's difficult to generate excitement at the last minute, according to Colombo. "Parents want to know in advance how much money needs to be raised and how long they have to raise it," he remarks.
Moede says even though his supporters know when the annual fundraiser will be held and for what purpose, he still sends home a letter to parents the day before the program begins that contains details about the fundraising goal. In addition, Moede says he is required to send a letter to his principal that provides a timeline for the band's fundraising program. The information is then added to the school's "fundraising calendar" which prevents groups from competing against one another for fundraising support.
There are several efficient and effective ways to promote your next fundraiser.
The money raised from a successful fundraiser can help keep your school's music program in tune. When it comes to fundraising, it's important to keep your eye on the ball. Setting clear financial goals helps keep your volunteers motivated, and provides a benchmark for success for your program. Planning ahead is also important because it helps you work out any potential problems with your program ahead of time. When deciding on a professional to work with, be sure to find out how each company will tailor its program to fit your organization's needs and, most importantly, find out how it will work to meet your group's financial goals. These days, fundraising of all types is pervasive, so making your group's fundraiser stands out is vital. Get the attention of your supporters and potential supporters by promoting the reasons behind the fundraiser.