For music boosters and extra curricular support groups, fundraising is essential to providing and maintaining educational opportunities and travel for students. Drastic cuts in school budgets have forced everyone (even athletic teams) to depend more and more on alternative sources for funding. Here are some proven fundraising activities. We hope one or more work for your group. If you don't see your favorite fundraiser listed here, please email it to us, and we'll and add it to our list. If you have questions about how some of these fund raisers work, please call or email Music Travel Consultants for answers.
Suggestions from Directors:
Dave Niemeyer – Warren High School, California
Fundraising…oh the fun. I am not a big fan of fundraising, but understand it to be a necessary evil of my job in order to financially sustain a quality music program. I try to steer clear of small change fundraisers or fundraisers that don’t offer at minimum, a 50/50 split on the return. I’m much more excited and willing to do fundraisers that are able to make thousands in revenue rather than hundreds. Here are some examples of what we do that make thousands and help sustain our program. Like many other programs, we are constantly looking for new and great ideas.
We run a 4-day fireworks booth in our city July 1-4. It makes about $11,000 to $16,000.
At the start of every school year the entire band and color guard dresses into their uniforms and goes door to door in our community asking for their support. If anyone makes any sort of donation (1 cent to whatever), we give them a “decal” that says “I Support the Warren Band and Color Guard”. This sticker can go in any window. If people aren’t home, we leave a letter and envelope. This fundraiser makes us about $13,000.
Pasta & Presto:
A spaghetti dinner with a twist. The parents cook spaghetti all day while students practice. The students are then the waiters and busers during dinner while the jazz bands provide the entertainment. Afterwards there is a concert that features both of our middle school programs and ALL of our performing groups including our winter guard. This is held in the gym. Students simply sell tickets to the event. This event can make from $5,000 to $10,000.
Jazz Festival and/or Marching Band Competition:
We try to host things like this and of course they make money… anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.
Car Wash Marathon:
A spin on your typical car wash. We select five sites within the city and presale tickets. We divide up the band among the five sites and wash cars all day… because there are five sites, it makes a whole lot more money than one site earning up to $3,000.
Most restaurants will have a “eat out” fundraiser. Patrons bring a flyer with them on a specified date and time and when they eat, turn in the flyer. A certain percentage (15 % to 20%) is given back to the organization. Typically about $200 to $300 per event.
We have also done our fair share of cookie dough, discount cards, Christmas trees, candy… and a whole lot more.
Jason Boyden – Mona Shores High School, Michigan
I refuse to do any fundraiser that I could potentially lose money on. I know it’s kind of a “no-brainer”, but there are way too many “Buy this candy up front and sell it for twice what you paid!” deals out there.
We raise a majority of our money using a scrip program. It is steady income that makes planning much easier. www.scrip.com
In Michigan, you can get 10 cents for every can you recycle, so we go door to door asking for cans. We make about $600 an hour when we do this.
We do an annual Marchathon where we march five miles through different neighborhoods in our community. We raise about $12,000 a year. Not only is it good money, but it is an awesome way to connect with our community members. People love it, and it is not terribly work intensive for a one day thing. Oh yea… and its early in the season so the cadences and school songs are TIGHT by the end of the day.
Jeff Neavor – Morton High School, Illinois
We started a marching competition a few years ago that we use as our only fundraiser. Instead of selling products, we make $20,000 to $30,000 in one day with the event.
Michael Henderson – Chase High School, North Carolina
I prefer to use “event type” fundraisers as opposed to selling items. The best “go out and sell something” fundraiser we have is a fruit fundraiser. We started a concert series last year that brings in local artists for concerts of different genres once a month. We also sell Avon, cookie dough, and have plenty of car washes throughout the year
Connie Cathey – Columbia Central High School, Tennessee
We have two large and two small fundraisers. The large fundraisers are our marching contest and fruit sale. One small fundraiser is Smart Cards. We give the students five cards that they either sell for $12 or a donation of $35 which is our profit on smart cards. We do the same thing with Applebee’s or McDonald’s for breakfast.
Sandra McCormick – Brewer High School, Texas
Magazine subscriptions work well, especially in the younger grades; the company bills the customer so the students/parents never collect money or deliver items
Annual Rummage Sale:
Another great project is our Annual Rummage Sale. Students label items to sell with their names and asking price; we set up early at a high traffic location, advertise in papers, and generally earn several thousands of dollars in one day.
Car Washes and Restaurant Nights:
We earn a nice amount and the students have fun working together so it is good for team building as well.
We hold a silent auction at a big showcase concert in the spring. The concert features the jazz band, drumline, guard, and variety acts. We charge admission for the concert and ask for merchandise and/or professional services to be donated by local businesses to auction prior to and during the concert. We usually earn $2,500 to $3,000 on this.
Results of individual students selling candy or gift products is spotty at best … not many participate, and the program earns little towards our needs. We give each student monetary credit in their accounts for the profit they earn on these sales, but still, not many work hard at those kind of sales.
Here is a funny story (wasn’t funny at the time) of my first year teaching. The Band Boosters scheduled a barn dance/BBQ dinner on a Saturday night. I walked in and discovered that they were selling beer by the mug from a keg. I thought that I would be fired for sure, and then the principal and superintendent walked in – I thought I would be fired that night! No, they bought their beer and BBQ and sat down to enjoy the evening. That sort of fundraiser was acceptable in the community; however, I would not recommend it as a fundraiser in most towns in the USA!
Michael Miller – Saguaro High School, Arizona
In Arizona, we are able to use tax credit money that parents can pay into a school account for most of our needs. Parents get a dollar for dollar credit on their state taxes. Any other fundraisers that I do I try to have them be “non-product” so if a parent is paying $10 we get all $10. It is always bothersome for parents to pay the $10 and we only keep $4 as an example. That is the direction my program goes. My boosters sell concessions at the varsity football games and generate large dollars for our program as well.
John Owens – Page High School, Arizona
I use state tax credits (most of our funds $50,000+), Navajo taco sales (earns $3,000+), and our jazz benefit concert/dinner/auction (earns $12,000). Our boosters run our fundraisers and they are very dedicated to getting results. We only do a few but we make sure that they are all big money makers
Here is a list MTC has complied over the years:
- Holiday concert with a small admission fee
- Dinner with entertainment by your music group
- Operate or work concessions for school events
- Operate or work concessions for professional sports teams or arenas
- Sell flowers and mulch
- Pledge Car Wash - collect pledges before the date
- Host a Drum Corps show
- Host a state sponsored music event (e.g., solo & ensemble contest)
- Sell cheese, sausage, candy or fruit
- Rent a kid
- Discount Cards
- Rechargeable Merchant cards (Kroger, Meijer, Thornton's...)
- Rummage sale
- Free throw, 3-point, full court shot contest
- Bag groceries
- Sell group concerts for corporate parties
- Auction group concert on ebay
- Sell radio ads
- Leaf raking
- Breakfast with Santa or Easter Bunny
- Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
- Craft Fair
- Take over a restaurant for a night
- Daisy Drop
- Children's Carnival
- Charity Golf Tournament
- Miniature Golf Tournament
- Bowling Tournament
- Clean up a race track or concert hall/sports arena after a big event