Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thrifty Tip of the Week-Great Fundraiser

One of the most common questions that I get asked as the "thrifty band director" is how do you raise the funds that you do? When I started out as a band director there were a number of people beside me and my friend Kerry who has is a friend, band parent, and former board member (for much longer than her kid was in band) spent YEARS trying everything from candles to candy to carnivals (literally we had a school carnival) to try to come up with great fundraiser that is low stress, low risk, and most importantly a GREAT money maker. Kerry spends much of her time now working as the NPO coordinator for the concessions work at a major stadium in the bay area. Kerry works with all kinds of groups from bands, club sports teams and churches.

Kerry reminded me recently that all non-profits need to be sharing their fundraising secrets with each other! So here's one of ours. Kerry says "I can't believe how long it took us to figure this one out!"

The Apple Gift Card Fundraiser. You sell tickets for a drawing for a gift card....or multiple gift cards (that's the goal). But here's the specifics because they are important to your success. You can ultimately sell tickets for whatever price works best for your audience and you can pick the kind of gift card that you think would sell best in your community.

What we have done in the past is to sell tickets for $10 for $500 Apple gift cards.  This year we are modifying the fundraiser and selling $5 tickets for $250 gift cards. The time of year that works best for us to sell the tickets is in the middle of November. The drawing is held at our Winter Band Concert and we do sell tickets at the event.

One of the things that I love about this fundraiser is that you can adapt it for your audience. I had a friend who did this fundraiser giving out $100 gas cards.

We purchase professionally printed ticket books of 10 tickets in each book. Tickets have stubs that we use for the drawing that includes the contact information of the person who is purchasing the ticket. This year we are selling tickets for $5 based on feedback from our students and parents last year.
Ticket book for drawing

The professional ticket books are worth the price. They make it so much easier to check out to kids AND then you also have the ticket stubs. for the drawing itself. You don't have to make anything and I think the sense of professional with the tickets is worth the expense and headache of handling it yourself.

I am a pretty big stickler about this. Students check out a ticket book and upon returning their money for their first ticket book they can check out another one. That way you have a good idea of where you are at in terms of sales. I try, if at all possible, to not allow students to return partial tickets except right before the event (and then those are the ones we try to sell first on the evening of the concert). I also sell tickets out of my office so I often try to help students finish selling all of their tickets in their ticket books.

Fundraisers that have an incentive for the students beyond selling something for the "greater good" also increases the success of any fundraiser. The incentive for students for this fundraiser is that we have a "student drawing" for an apple gift card. For every ticket book that they sell they receive one ticket for a student drawing for the same value and type of gift card that is being given away in the drawing. For us this year that's a $250 Apple Gift Card.

We also done other fun things to motivate student sales. The year that we purchased new uniforms we made little black shakos. For your first ticket book sold each student was given a little black shako for them to put their name on and hang in the band hallway for all to see (kind of like when you go to the grocery store and sponsor a charity and get to write your name on a paper balloon and hang in the store). For each additional ticket book they sold they were given another item to put on their shako (like a fleur di lis or a feather or a gold sparkly band). Oddly enough the students were motivated by this to sell more books. (Sometimes its the little thing with students that make the difference).

The best part of this fundraiser is that only expense to your expense to your organization (besides the cute little items to put on tiny shakos) is the ticket books. The amount of gift cards you purchase and give away is based on the numbers of tickets sold. Are you aren't sitting on top of a bunch of merchandise that will go unsold, you don't have to deliver or store anything big, nothing will spoil, you don't have to freeze this or spend thousands of dollars in purchasing products. Its an easy amount people can donate AND potentially get something for free.

This blog is often written on a lap top that I purchased with the $500 apple gift card that I won in our drawing we had a few years ago (I now purchase tickets for other people and not myself after I won). I purchased $100 worth of tickets and one of my students drew my ticket!

My winning ticket! I still have it on my bulletin board :)

Here's our financial analysis of the fundraiser

Thanks to my STMAA buddies Bill & Deb for their great financial analysis of this fundraiser! 
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions or if you give this a try! We will be launching our annual Apple Gift Card Fundraiser in a little over a month!

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