What is the best way to make money for our band or fine arts group? Pizza sales, craft sales, donkey basketball, cowchip bingo, marching band festival, jazz festival, fruit baskets, door to door donations, non profit status, concession sales, or drum corps show? As a band member, drum corps instructor, drum corps director, drill writer, uniform salesman, and now band parent, I have been able to experience fundraising from many different angles. I hope to give you a little perspective and some ideas for your fundraising.

Raising money for your band/fine arts program can be a real hurdle for most boosters or parent groups. Let's face it, the best bands and arts groups have booster groups that can raise the money they need to keep the band successful and allows all students the access to their programs. Especially in a down economy, boosters are taking on more of the fundraising for trips, uniforms, instruments and scholarships for their students to have meaningful experiences in band. Here are some questions you need to ask about your band program before you organize your band students/parents to fundraise for the band.

1) What does the band director want and need to make the band program stronger?
The band director should be setting the tone and goals for the program. The boosters are there to fulfill the vision of the band director. The more the band director can focus on the students and making great music, the better. The job of being band director is a HUGE one especially in the public schools. Let the band director set the direction of the group and use him as the main resource for all goals of the music group.

2) How significant of an impact do you want to have on the band program?
Some groups will consider a $5,000 yearly goal as insurmountable. But, do the math, and for the most part families could donate $25 each and make that goal without having to spend so much time doing the fundraising. If the group is making less than minimum wage per hour of work for the fundraiser, is it really worth it? On the other hand, if you have found that everyone in the band program will already buy fruit baskets for a holiday fundraiser, then that is an easy fundraiser. Other groups will challenge themselves to fundraise $75,000-$100,000 per year to fund their band programs. See the lists below to explore 3 main categories on how to impact your band program and some fundraisers that accommodate each level of impact.

3) What kinds of fundraising match the identity of our program, community and fundraising goals?
For your first fundraiser, make sure you pick something that WILL succeed! Something that WILL make some money for the program. From there, figure out the best fundraising for your band program and community. Donkey basketball works in some communities and not so well in others! Keep the programs that work and get rid of the fundraisers that are marginal returns for the work involved. Some of the best fundraisers are easy and fun: if local laws allow, have your band kids go into the community and ask for a $10-$20 dollar donation from each house in the neighborhood. In return, give them a car window cling regardless of the donation and ask them to make the home band competition later in the fall/winter, etc. Make sure the fundraiser is getting you to your overall fundraising goals. Do not be afraid to be ambitious, yet realistic about what you can raise.

Make sure you are strategic about your fundraising. Get a good bang for your buck. Some fundraisers work best on a three year rotation like a garage sale. Try to place the fundraisers in the school calendar where they can be marketed at band events and taken out to family members during the holidays. Find things people like to buy or like to do to create a fundraiser that works for your band.

Also remember to contact the most successful programs and ask them what they do and what works for them. Talk to the band director and to the band booster president to get their ideas on what works and what could work better. Are the parents or the students doing most of the work? Sometimes band parents bonding in a concession stand making money for the band is a great way to build commaraderie for the WHOLE band! Most people are willing to share their success stories, but also remember that just because it works for another group does not mean it will work for your group.


Fundraising Activities

$0 - $10,000
Scholarships for Trips
Instrument Repair
Uniform Repair
Concert Uniforms Car wash, pizza sales, donkey basketball, candle sales, cowchip bingo, concessions, door to door donation, bagging groceries

Marching Uniforms
Small Trips
Instrument Purchasing
Staffing / Coaches
Small Trailer
Commission a Piece of Music
National Level Clinician Kwik trip gas cards, cookie dough, scratch off cards, bowling tournament, cookbooks, cell phone recycling, 24 hour march-a-thon / sing-a-thon / etc., magazine sales

Competitive Marching Band
Winter Colorguard
Semi Trailer Truck
Large Trips
Marching Uniforms
Non-Profit Status 501C-3
Winter Drumline
National Level Concert Band Craft sales, online voting grants, garage sales, school-wide carnival, high school concessions, 10% restaurant nights, professional sports concessions, corporate performances, chinese auction ticket, activity fees / dues, donated car auction, pull tabs / bingo / charitable gambling, marching band / jazz / show choir competition, capital campaign, regional arts grants, corporate matching grants.

Key Concepts

  • Be Strategic
    What is the biggest bang for your buck?
  • Think Big
    How can we raise money doing the things we do best?
    Push the easy button
  • Run the Numbers
  • Think Long Term
    Is it a yearly, bi-yearly or every 3rd year fundraiser?
  • Take One Project on at a Time
    Get good at one fundraiser, then add another and another.
  • Delegate
    One person can only do so much. Lots of people want to help! More committee members and project managers! Have a list of projects that need to be managed.

Please check with your local and state statutes regarding what may be permissible fundraising in your area. Laws very by state, city and school district. Some school districts will allow you to have an activity account and subsist under their 501c-3 to avoid sales taxes, etc. Please look online for other fundraising ideas and set up 5 project managers to run with your top 5 ideas.