Close your eyes for a second and think about what you would do if you suddenly had $5,000 to spend on your music program.
What would you buy? New music? New instruments? New uniforms? Hire staff to give you a little more time in front of your classroom, helping students who need it most?
If you can’t think of what you would do because you already have all the funding you could possibly need or want, then this post isn’t for you. But for the rest of you…
I’m sure thinking about spending the money is both gratifying and stressful. Stressful because we are trained to think in one of three ways:
1- “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”- just take the budget you’re given and spend it accordingly. But if you don’t spend it, they could take it away for another program. You never know. The matter of funding is just dictated to you, and you don’t feel like you have any control.
2- “Find the funding somewhere else.”- the school doesn’t have money for what you need, so it’s your job to hustle to find it. Start a booster club. Host a fundraising event. Get creative! Apply for grants! But don’t expect to have your salary compensated for the extra time and expense it takes to run a fundraiser.
3- “I’m not allowed to fundraise.”- this is typically because the school handles one or two fundraisers per year for what the SCHOOL needs; then you can apply to get some of that money…but you may or may not get what you need or want to enhance your program. Either way, you feel like your hands are tied.
Well I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way. Any of these ways. There are tips, tools, and tricks that you can use to rectify any of these situations and give you the funding and influence over that funding that you deserve.
Today I want to teach you to the two types of fundraising. Yes, there are only two. And as you read, I want you to keep an open mind. Push away the mindsets that you’ve been bound by [the ones described above], and think about how you can apply some of these concepts in your own program.
Okay, mind set? Deep breath? Let’s get started.
There really are only two ways to fundraise: Active and Passive
Active Fundraising consists of actions that you take that directly lead to a donation. Think of it like this:
Work Now=Funding Now
Some examples of active fundraising that are your standard fare:
• Any type of event that people have to come to- from a car wash to bake sale to a concert
• Selling stuff- from Yankee candles to candy bars
Let’s talk about advantages and dis-advantages…
Pros of Active Fundraising
• It’s NOW. You can make it front-of-mind, and receive a lot of free promotion, particularly if it’s some type of event. Write a press release, make a huge deal, stack your events…there’s a lot of opportunity for a lot of money to be made in a very short period of time.
• They are a great way to market your program.
• These are more ‘traditional’ and you probably have experience with them. People get psyched to help, so it’s easy to engage volunteers.
• Your administration is probably more familiar with these types of fundraisers, so it’s easy to explain to them and they’ll be able to quickly decide if they are on-board or not.
• So many opportunities to leverage! It’s easy if someone is already purchasing a ticket or giving you check to give them a reason to give you more. You can engage people a lot easier with these types of fundraisers- build a community and your own influence in it.
• They can be really fun! Getting lots of people around and spreading the word about what you do in your program: that’s great stuff!
Cons of Active Fundraising
• Time. They take meetings and planning and planning and planning and implementing and hustling and recruiting and planning and advertising and that’s not even for the event. Sure, some take less planning- like the aforementioned car wash; just set a date with the school parking lot, get kids to show up with buckets, run a hose and voila! Money.
• Money. These things all have at least a little buy-in necessary. Especially if you’re doing something grandiose that requires a rented location, tickets, decorations, prizes, food, beverage, more food…
• Stress. You’re going to put a lot of eggs in a single basket here. If your active fundraiser doesn’t net what you hope then you just did all that work for very little return. Plus you probably spent more of your contract time on it than you did planning lessons for the next month. Plus you have to rely on student and volunteer help and that alone can give you an ulcer.
Now think about your situation. If you’re allowed to fund-raise and can recruit a team to help you and you’re excited about leveraging this type of event then AWESOME!
But what if you can’t run an active fundraiser? You’ve gotta go ‘below the radar’ with your efforts? You don’t have time, you don’t have funding to get started [or your fundraising capacity is limited], and you certainly don’t want the stress?
Then read on, my friend, as I introduce you to the world of….[drum roll, please]…Passive fundraising!
Passive Fundraising consists of actions that you take now to get donations later. Think of it like this:
Work Now=Funding Without Work Later
Some examples of passive fundraising are:
• Selling things you create online- from T-shirts to a CD of your latest concert or program- especially if you can use a drop-ship service!
• Creating and promoting an online donation page
• Recurring donations [similar to the one above, but better]
• Grants and Awards
• Local store donations- patrons sign up to donate to a certain school or program. Amazon also offers this. So anyone who purchases on Amazon can elect to have a portion of their sale come to your program.
• Funding request letter. If you have a list of mailing addresses and can write up a decent request letter, you could make some bank just doing this. Or heck, at your next concert, just hand out envelopes they can write a check and put it in.
• And the coup de gras: RECURRING DONATIONS, where donors pay a regular amount every month. You make the ask at the first of the school year for $10/month, and over the 9 months you teach that donor will have paid $90, and all you had to do is ask once. If you can get this thing up and going, you’re golden!
Let’s talk about advantages and dis-advantages…
Pros of Passive Fundraising
• It can be more predictable and consistent.
• You can pair a passive form of fundraising with an active fundraising effort to compound the effects!
• Less work, typically- you can do it in the time you have
• Fewer people need to be involved- you can do it on your own
• Don’t typically need special training [like even planning! Am I right or am I right?]
• No need for an initial investment- or expenses are minimized.
• If your admin has said “no fundraising”, you can usually talk them into this type because you’re not really hitting people up for money all the time.
• Lower stress. Just get it set up and let it run. Promote it if you want- or even better, get your students/parents/everyone to promote it for you.
Cons of Passive Fundraising
• Far less engagement opportunities with attendees. Most efforts won’t require face time at all.
• Fewer opportunities to leverage your engagement for additional donations or support.
• You’re going to probably need at least some help… like setting up a web page.
• This realm may feel unfamiliar- especially if you haven’t been doing a lot of work online and know how these things work. A car wash might seem a lot easier in comparison!
There are some fundraising ideas that could fall into either category- like sponsorships.
If you’re hosting an event that you want sponsors to pay for, then it would count as ‘active’. If you’re asking a local store or business to sponsor your program for a year in exchange for putting their logo on your t-shirts or webpage, then it would count as passive- especially if they are paying a monthly-type donation.
Go back to the beginning of this epic post for just a moment. I asked you to think about what you would do with $5,000. Now that you have a more clear understanding of the two types of fundraising, can you see some opportunities for you to come close to that amount?
What about 1/10th of that amount? Would that be impactful enough for you to try?
Whether you feel your own strengths lie in active or passive fundraising, the idea is that you can find at least ONE that will work for you, no matter what your situation, or your mindset. Let’s break the box and fund our music programs like they SHOULD be funded.
Your assignment is to pick ONE type of fundraiser that can increase your budget by $500 in the next month. And if you already have an active fundraiser coming up, then be sure to subscribe and stay tuned, because in the next few days I’ll be giving you 3 methods for amplifying your fundraising power.
To get you started with some passive fundraising, I’ve compiled a checklist of resources you can access to get started. Download it here: