fundraising flickr HowardLake

In the beginning, it seemed like a good idea and I promise, it was with the best intentions. But some things, I guess, just don’t change.

I’m talking about trying to organize the band, football, cheer and ROTC boosters to work together to raise money for the trip to Ireland they are taking next August. As I’ve told you, my son, Jack, will be an incoming freshman in band and I volunteered to help strategize fundraising efforts.

At first, I really thought we had a chance to bring down some barriers. The principal liked the idea of a unified fundraising effort. We even had a few meetings over the summer where parents from all the booster clubs met together. We talked about joint sponsorships. There were emails and real communication! I thought we were possibly on the verge of a new model of school fundraising.

And then: nothing. School started and communication from the booster clubs came to a screeching halt. Finally, I got word that the football boosters decided to fundraise on their own. Then the cheer boosters decided to do the same thing. OK. So I was wrong. No big surprise. The band boosters had been plugging away all along anyway, so I guess it was okay.

But the real shocker was when the band director told me some of the band parents had misgivings about me representing them AND helping the other booster clubs raise money. Oh, my. Did I miss the memo that said collaboration was a bad thing? Apparently these parents perceived communicating with other parents as a threat to their fundraising efforts. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

Dismayed may be a better word. To be sure, the booster clubs have a lot of money to raise, so part of me understands their concerns. The Ireland fundraising is in addition to the $20,000, $70,000 and $150,000 the band, cheer and football respectively raise on an annual basis. However, in my two decades plus in the corporate nonprofit sector, I came to see collaboration as a way of bringing multiple perspectives together to create a greater good. I may have been naïve to think I could translate that into the world of high school booster clubs this easily. But I haven’t given up hope!

Don’t worry. I haven’t turned sour. I happily will continue to help the band – and anyone else – with their fundraising efforts. In fact, the band director and I are scheduling our sponsorship solicitations now. However, I did promise to chronicle my experience with this fundraising adventure and that means the good, bad and the ugly. This just got ugly for a brief moment.

On the bright side, the band director recently provided a report to the school board on the band’s fundraising activities for the trip. My sources tell me that the principal and the superintendent were impressed with our well thought out strategies and plans. Score one for us.