Putting the “Fun” in Fundraising


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Fundraising is sometimes seen as an awful chore which only takes away from teaching and rehearsal time. However, many schools and programs don’t have a choice – if that year-end trip is going to happen or if the piano is going to be fixed or the uniforms updated, the money has to come from somewhere. But what’s the most effective way to raise cash? Are fundraisers really a necessary part of a program’s budget? What kinds of activities require additional capital beyond what the school has to offer? Can raising money be fun?

CD recently turned these questions to our readers, asking them to give us some insight into which fundraising strategies work best and to pass along any helpful tips to those of you who may be at your fundraising wits’ end.

What types of fundraising have been most successful for your program?

What types of fundraising have been most successful for your program?

I have a small program and have been able to survive without sales-oriented fundraising. My performing group has a fee and we get donations at our concerts. We perform an informal “coffee house” with admission and concession sales which is also open to performers not in the choral program. This has been an easy way to create interest in the music program and provide money for the actual choir program with minimal set-up and planning.

Stephen Fowler,
Fayette County High School/Fayette Middle School
Fayette, Ala.

We sell fruit (oranges, apples, grapefruit, pears) from Florida in November. It arrives in time for the holidays. It’s always a success.

Linda Koevary
Oyster Bay High School
Oyster Bay, N.Y.

For those of you who embrace “food-oriented” drives, (pizza, candy, cookies, etc.) have you been running into any concern about “nutritional value” of the items being sold?

For those of you who embrace

Our district’s nutritional committee has approved candy sales for fundraising, despite candy and sweet soft drinks being banned from the vending machines.

Missey Graville
Valley Park School District
Valley Park, Mo.

How many fundraising campaigns did you conduct in the past year?

How many fundraising campaigns did you conduct in the past year?

What specific elements of your program rely exclusively, or in large part, on money raised by fundraising?

What specific elements of your program rely exclusively, or in large part, on money raised by fundraising?

What’s the most memorable or “unusual” fundraiser you’ve attempted?

One year we held a popular song for ransom. We sold every note of it and made over $8,000 towards our Disney Honors trip.

Victor Izzo
Minisink Valley HS
Slate Hill, N.Y.

We have put on a city-wide talent show with prizes and everything. Although it was tons of fun – and lots of stress – the cookie dough and butter braids fundraiser still made more money! We also sell “Singing Valentines” every year: groups go throughout the city and sing a pre-chosen song to a lucky someone. But again, the cookie dough and butter braids made more money – and took less of my time!

Kelly Martin
MacArthur High School
Lawton, Okla.

By far the most memorable has been our Fashion Show which featured our choir members as models. Several students have even gone on to have extremely successful careers in the modeling field!

Charles Collins, II
Brainerd High School
Chattanooga, Tenn.

Recently, at our Winter Concert, we gave away three artificial, pre-lit, and beautifully decorated Christmas Trees to three families in our low-income community. The students had solicited donations for the drawing tickets for a month prior to the concert. Members of the parent’s booster club got the trees did the decorating. Local business and groups donated and/or discounted some of the trees and decorations. The families that received the trees were so appreciative!

Mark Alberstein
Woodlake Valley Middle School
Woodlake, Calif.

We staged a dinner theatre-type program at a local church. It was very interesting for the students and really had a super impact on the community. We did it on Valentine’s Day and did only love songs with students performing duets, solos and in small groups. It was great!

Allen Bailey
Mortimer Jordan High School
Birmingham, Ala.

We raise $4,000 every December by staffing a holiday party for children of employees of a local business. It is great money and the students get to play games with children all day.

Russell Hammond
Ledyard High School,
Ledyard, Conn.

This year’s Pasta Dinner was downright fun. All our choirs sang, the band and percussion ensemble played, and lots of people ate lots of pasta. It was a kick! Can’t wait to do it again. And we raised some significant moolah for our program.

Cliff Badgley
Reyburn Intermediate School
Clovis, Calif.

Any additional thoughts on fundraising that you’d like to share with your fellow music educators?

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try something new. When I began a “School of Rock,” I asked donors to “adopt” an instrument and it really paid off: I raised $5,000.

Judy Hall
George Wythe High School
Wytheville, Va.

Fundraising can be a pain, but for our small school, the projects that lead to a great musical experience – out of the ordinary – have been a great motivator.

Lois Faber
EskDale High School
EskDale, Utah

Don’t over fundraise, or your budget will be lowered. Fundraising should be for extras, not for the things the school should pay for as part of the curriculum.

Kristipher Tolman
Torrington High School
Torrington, Wyo.

Why do we have to do fundraising? Do math teachers have to fundraise to buy calculators? I run a program on less than $1 a kid a year – 288 kids, $285. Yup, that’s it – my entire instructional budget. And I live 100 miles from New York City – not exactly the ends of the earth!

Pauline Mancuso
Kinston City Schools
Kingston, N.Y.

Have the kids come up with the ideas and coordinate the fundraising activities, with adults in a supervisory role. This way they own their success and feel more responsible for their efforts.

Sharon McCord
Peabody School
Charlottesville, Va.

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