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school band members in full uniform holding their clarinets on their left shoulder

Band Fundraisers: 4 Steps to Success

Fundraising for a school band takes time, patience, and vision. It’s hard work. Do it well and effectively from the start.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Ben Franklin
Know what your band needs. Figure out how to track donations. Seek out potential donors. Ask for their help in a way that will get the most positive response. Collect the pledged donations. Send out tax receipts. Spend the funds on band equipment/travel/fees.
That’s a lot of different skills: Project Management, Accounting, Marketing, and Bookkeeping.

Step 1: Fundraiser goal

The first step in any fundraising campaign is figuring out how much money the band needs. Here are the most common expenses bands face:

Band fundraiser need: Instruments

Many bands, especially those supporting lower-income students, supply their musicians with instruments.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) offers statistics about the impact of music education:
  • In schools in which principals and vice principals say the quality of their music education programs is excellent or very good, graduation rates are 90.9%, and attendance is at 93.8%.
  • 87% of teachers and 79% of parents strongly believe music education has a positive impact on overall academic performance

Because of the positive impact of music, many organizations provide instruments to all or some of their participants. Renting is cheaper in the short-term, but more expensive over time.

The band organizers must decide if they will rent instruments or purchase them outright. A school or social band also might require students to get their own instruments, but this definitely limits who can participate in the band program, putting it out of reach for lower-income families, depriving them of the benefit of band participation, and increasing inequalities.

Renting even used instruments starts at roughly $20/month for the least expensive (close-holed flute or plastic clarinet), up to $65/month for a French horn. Insurance typically adds to the cost. Of course, purchasing a used instrument starts at $540 for a flute but more frequently is over $1000. New instruments will typically last long, but they’re even more expensive ($720 for a new plastic clarinet and $3600 for a Double French Horn). (Pricing sampled from the National Educational Music Company and Taylor Music Inc.)

school marching band lined up to march

Band fundraiser need: Instrument upkeep / repair

Of course, even a new instrument will eventually need maintenance. Instrument upkeep and repair for a brass instrument is $70-$4,000. Don’t overlook this significant expense. (Costs sampled from Hickey’s Music Center.) Instruments vary in the frequency of cleaning needs. For instance, a professional-level cleaning for a trumpet is recommended annually (Clean My Instrument website).

Band fundraiser need: Uniforms

Band uniforms are expensive. Traditional, standard outfits cost roughly $400 (Pricing from McCormick’s). The expense of unique, custom-made outfits can be double or triple the cost of an in-stock outfit.

Band fundraiser need: Music royalties

Bands needing to keep costs as low as possible will use either public-domain band music compositions (limited) or something they compose (requires a great deal of talent and time). Those holding paid concerts, touring, or providing background music in school buildings need to pay royalties due to copyright. The rules for exemptions are complex. The National Association for Music Education describes what does/doesn’t need payment and even offers a copyright checklist for music educators.

Step 2: Be practical, dream big ​

Since you now have a full list of expenses, decide on what’s the bare minimum your band needs. Set that as your fundraising goal. But be ready. If your fundraiser exceeds expectations (as we’ve often found with band fundraisers using Snap! Raise), what are you going to do with the extra funds? Be ready with an answer. And, if your band fundraiser is wildly successful, what would it enable the band to do?

Step 3: Fundraiser frequency

How often you ask for funds impacts your results. Parents suffer from “fundraising burnout.” An article by CBS News warns:

Many parents dislike hitting up their friends and family for General Mills box tops or Campbell Soup labels, or to buy products such as cookie dough, coupon books or wrapping paper. “Fundraising as it exists in many schools today [2014] takes way too much work,” according to Causera.

That article was written in 2014. The Coronavirus crisis dramatically impacted school band activities and participation. More schools have returned to in-person or hybrid learning, reigniting enthusiasm for group activities like band. School budgets are tight, yet expenses usually have increased, requiring more fundraising for extracurricular activities. Goals get higher.

Smart band fundraising takes into account the many financial and fundraising demands on parents and kids, run fewer fundraisers, but make them more meaningful and important.

Contact Us to learn how Snap! Mobile can help your band, school club, or athletic team can help with your fundraising and team money management needs.

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