Directing and organizing a marching band is at once both challenging and rewarding. But when your band marches in the local fourth-of-July parade or plays during halftime at your school’s homecoming game, the hours spent practicing and the time invested in fundraising for new uniforms is all worthwhile.

You can enjoy that payoff even more when you make sure that those time-consuming fundraising responsibilities that fall to you are done as quickly and as effectively as possible. Organize your marching band’s fundraising efforts to make sure that your players are set up for long-term success with the uniforms, instruments, and travel opportunities they deserve.

Marching-Band Fundraising Fundamentals

From the outside, fundraising for your marching band may seem to be little different from other types of school fundraising. But in reality, there are some important differences worth highlighting:

Marching-band students tend to have less time to volunteer than other

Band members spend hours practicing their instruments—both as a group and by themselves—in addition to their other schoolwork. In short, marching bands are filled with members who are old enough to be a necessary part of your fundraising efforts, but have little time to help out. That means you need to make sure that your players’ time is well-organized.

Much of the fundraising done for your marching band will go towards goals that aren’t always easy to communicate to potential donors

Sure, your uniforms need to be paid for, just like those of a children’s soccer or football team, but more likely than not, you will raise a majority of your funds in order to sponsor a trip before or after the semester.

Communicating the value of that trip can be difficult. But as you (and anyone involved with organizing a marching band) knows, the trip actually builds the group cohesion necessary to perform in parades and at events. If you expect your players to march in perfect lockstep all while playing their instruments, you better make sure they understand camaraderie with their bandmates.

Determining The Best Fundraising Methods

Understanding the fundamentals and challenges of marching-band fundraising before you begin your actual efforts can help you to focus your strategy and ultimately to ensure its success. Next, it’s time to determine which fundraising methods will work best to help your band reach its goals. Here are some fundraisers that tend to be effective for marching bands:

Sub-Sandwich Sales

This is a popular and successful fundraising tradition from the North East that has had great success in other areas. It’s becoming so popular because it offers a way for band members to fundraise while engaging their local community.

Band members take sub-sandwich orders from the local community. They meet early in the morning on weekends to assemble and deliver individual sub sandwiches. This fun and quirky fundraiser does require an initial time investment from the band members, but let the students volunteer their time to weekly shifts. This works especially well if it becomes an ongoing tradition that community members expect for a few weeks each year. Best of all, this fundraiser does tend to receive great support from the community, which makes it very effective.

Playbooks

These are coupon books that offer deals to local merchants in the community. Your band chooses the logo and design, and then reaches out to businesses in the area, who will volunteer a valuable offer for a service or product. With engagement from local businesses, your community can buy sheets of coupons that at once help you raise money and bring traffic to local merchants.

Organize a group of students to reach out to businesses that are community favorites. Restaurants are always a great idea, but don’t forget to include other businesses that people use and enjoy, like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and hair salons. Playbooks tend to have a wide-appeal because they offer valuable discounts that people will actually use, and don’t require much of a time investment from your already busy students.

Fundraising Concerts

The foundation to any successful fundraiser is community involvement. Advertise widely that the marching band is fundraising, and hold a benefit concert. The band gets to practice, and you’ll have a receptive audience who is happy to contribute. Especially in smaller rural communities, your donors will most likely be relatives or acquaintances of one or more of your band members.

Consider organizing a marching concert at another school event that is planned. Get the word out that donors can join in the festivities and march with the band! Since marching-band members are often generational, parents of players may have been in band themselves during their high-school years. Allowing them to relive their youth by being a part of marching band once again (if only for a day) can lighten the mood and lift the morale of your band and its donors, all while raising funds to help get new uniforms and finally go on that trip.

Integrating Efficiency

As we mentioned above, marching-band students are short on time. With some effort, you can streamline your fundraising and make sure that you get donations while still being able to allocate enough time for your students to practice and take care of all of their other responsibilities. Professionally printed materials will go a long way in organizing your fundraiser and in offering quality products that people want to buy.

For example, marching bands that do the sub-sandwich fundraiser should use order forms to pass out among regular buyers to keep track of individual orders with little effort.

Ask any marching band what they focus on during the middle of their football season, and their answer will likely be “practice, practice, practice.” But with the methods we outlined above, you can ensure that fundraising does not fall by the wayside, ensuring your band can take that crucial bonding trip to Disney World, Nashville, New York City, or another destination that your band has been looking forward to.

And just like that, you streamline your fundraising efforts, find enough time to practice, and wow your audience at the next parade.