As school districts across the country are forced to slash budgets, fundraising efforts have become more important than ever. The notion that schools financially support all extracurricular activities is a common misconception. Simply put, school districts cannot afford to provide funding for all sports, clubs, organizations, and music programs. For sports programs, fundraisers help offset the cost of equipment, jerseys, tournaments, and various other items. For a school’s marching band, fundraisers are needed to pay for essential items such as instruments, music, travel, and uniforms. Without financial support from the local community through fundraisers, some students would not be able to participate in their desired activity due to the involved costs. This, in turn, could deny them the opportunity to meet new friends, develop life skills, build self-esteem, or potentially continue with their activity in college.
Fundraising by students can be a key building block for societal and personal development, and provide valuable life experiences. It serves as a means for groups and individuals to form plans, work together, reach goals, and celebrate accomplishments. Engaging students in fundraising also leads to greater awareness of "real world" expenses and the efforts their parents, instructors, and coaches put forth to make their participation possible.
While speaking at a recent fundraising meeting with the 220-member Lafayette High School Band, I asked the students to guess how much their participation actually cost (i.e. new drums, color guard flags, rights to the music they play, etc.). When told the answer, the surprised looks on their faces spoke volumes!
Encouragingly, the more I talked to them about the financial challenges of running our program, the greater I sensed their eagerness to help with fundraising to offset some of the expenses that go with being a part of such an active, large and successful marching band. This particular group of students is no stranger to challenges, as their dedication and preparation for the 2013 Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, CA, resulted in a super performance and a lifetime of memories. I’m confident that engaging students in the fundraising process empowers them in such a way that they will work hard to reach goals and learn to appreciate the value of the money.
Now that schools are in full session, please consider supporting your local school fundraisers. When a student comes to your door or workplace with a fundraiser, please give them some of your time. Remember they are not only asking for your support, but they are also developing valuable social and marketing skills they will need as adults. Also, school fundraisers offer top-quality products, often delivered to your door by a hard-working, focused student. These products can include spring mulch and fall mums, as well as various foods and holiday gifts. Fundraising events to support include auctions, car washes and raffles.
With the community’s support, each and every child can have the opportunity to participate in the extracurricular activity of their choice. By offering encouragement and financial support, you will feel good about yourself and feel proud of the young men and women when you see what can be accomplished through successful fundraising. Everybody—students, families, schools, and the community—benefits!
Carole E. Howell is the 1st Vice President/Fundraising for the Lafayette Band Association. She is the mother of 4 wonderful kids between the ages of 10 and 19 who between them are in color guard, and play piano, flute, and trombone. She's been a Pediatric ICU nurse at Kentucky Children's Hospital for 23 years, and loves her job as an RN as much as she loves volunteering as Fundraising Chairperson for the 215-member Lafayette Band (52% of the annual budget is fundraised). As fundraising chair, she also organizes the Lafayette Football programs, the annual Lafayette Jazz Band Dance and Silent Auction, as well as the annual Parent Performance Silent Auction. In her free time, she enjoys crafts, sewing, and staying active in the gym. Lafayette Band hopes to defend their 18th state title at the KMEA State Marching Band Competition at the end of October.