This latest Choral Director reader survey tackles the issue of fundraising, often a thorny subject among educators. Whether you agree that extracurricular events like festivals and performance tours should be funded by the district or not, for most directors who hope to provide such opportunities for their students, fundraising is simply a way of life, or as several survey respondents put it, “a necessary evil.” That’s not to say that fundraising events have to be a terrible burden; on the contrary, a number of vocal music educators have indicated that there is value beyond the money in having students work towards a specific goal, whether through candy sales or carwashes, and that raising money through concerts or dinners can be a great experience for all involved. And with only one third of CD readers indicating that they rely primarily on fundraising for their program’s funding, that leaves the cup two-thirds full#149; right?
Where does most of your program’s funding come from?
“The district supplies limited money for the music programs. Trips require fund raising.”
Cab Calloway School of the Arts
“We still receive generous funds from our district, but most of our money is earned by the members of our choirs. We are constantly fundraising.”
West Columbus High School
Cerro Gordo, N.C.
“I apply for several grants each year, but some are from parent/community support groups that are more of a sure thing than other types of grants, which can be hit or miss.”
Jones College Prep High School
“This year, all funding to our program was cut by the district. We have had to completely depend on student fees and help from our booster group. Fundraising has only been done to assist students with their individual tour costs.”
North Canyon High School
How often do you typically hold fundraisers?
Have recent changes to the economy affected your funding and/or fundraising efforts?
Which do you find more successful, selling products (fruit, candy, magazines) or providing services (car washes, dinners, concerts)?
What types of product sales have been most profitable for your program?
Which of the following fundraising services have been most profitable for your program?
What was your most unique/successful fundraising campaign?
“We ask college students from the local college to put stuff that they don’t want to take home for the summer in a special trailer and we sell it in a garage sale.”
“Our geranium sale is very successful because we’ve been doing it every spring for over 30 years. Folks in town know that the sale is coming, so they wait until our sale to purchase their flowers for planting. We display over 3,000 flowers in the auditorium for the spring concert.”
David C. Shover
Camp Hill High School
Camp Hill, Pa.
“We take the kids that are in our musical and we put on a workshop similar to what the Young Americans do, an all day workshop for elementary and middle school kids. We teach them vocal technique, stage craft, improvisation, and songs. We feed them and put on a show that same night. We charge each kid $35 registration, which includes their meals and a t-shirt. Then we charge $5 for admission to the concert. Our HS kids do all of the planning and teaching and we (the 2 teachers) just chaperone and do some vocal teaching of the songs. We now have over 300 elementary and MS students participating in this fun-filled day.”
Mona Shores Public Schools
“During the earlier years of American Idol, we had our own ‘Idol’ competition. It was very successful. Also, we do singing Valentine grams during lunch!”
Aleisa A. Baker
TC Roberson High School
“In the past, we had a telemarketing company that sold fire extinguishers, coffee, cookie dough, et cetera, for us and gave us a percent of the profit. The company did everything. They called everyone in the community, and delivered all the products to their homes. They raised thousands of dollars for us over the years! We had enough to purchase sound equipment and new risers! But our current administration stopped it because they wanted our students to do all the work. From the director’s viewpoint, this fundraiser was a ‘no-brainer.’ We did nothing and got a check for approximately $3,000 twice a year!”
Anthony Wayne HS/JH
“We did a service exchange program. Parents could ‘purchase’ groups of students for a minimum of $50 per hour to do chores (rake leaves, bake cookies, hang Christmas decorations) or entertain. We made about $1,000. However, it was an organizational nightmare.”
Central High School
Is there anything directors should be wary of when planning a fundraiser?
“Always be aware of hidden costs and problems. There may be delivery fees if certain standards are not met. You may not have any control over when the products are delivered to your school. Also, adhere to guidelines because many problems can be caused when one is not met.”
Joseph A. Vanderpool
Harvard Public Schools
“You should at least be getting 40 percent profit of whatever is made; anything less is not worth doing.”
Bonneville High School
“There are too many fundraisers going on these days that are selling products. People are sick of being asked to buy yet another thing they don’t need. Try to find a service that people would appreciate.”
Any additional thoughts on fundraising that you’d like to share with your fellow music educators?
“I have found it most helpful to have my parent boosters plan and run the fundraisers. I don’t want to handle money, write receipts, order product, or distribute product. This way, there can be no conflict of interest or any chance of financial impropriety with myself and the fundraising proceeds.”
Santana High School
“Try not to burn out your community on fundraising. Be respectful of other groups and their goals. Have a specific purpose in mind when fundraising, like a new tuba for the music department, or a trip to N.Y. People are more likely to support a ’cause.'”
Adrianne J. Theusch
“It is a shame that many schools must do this type of fundraising to survive. Choral directors need to let their school boards know about the importance of what we teach, and how are programs affect the lives of the students. We must educate not only the students, but those who design our budgets as well.”
James D. Moyer
Pennsbury High School
Fairless Hills, Pa.
“In the end, it’s not the amount of money you raise or the field trips you go on that will determine the success of your choir. It is how the students feel about themselves and what they’re doing, however simple or local it may be.”
Newark Junior High School