Fundraising is a necessary practice for band programs across the country, especially those that see their budgets dwindling. Programs that see success in fundraising translate the interest they have gained from performances into donations. Investing in brand building and communication is the best way to reach potential donors. If you want to fundraise with any success in 2016 and beyond, you need to invest in your logo(s), visual brand identity, social media, and overall communication strategy. Capitalizing on the power of your brand and communicating with clarity maximizes the effect of your effort.
Your band program has multiple potential sources of revenue. You can sell merchandise to fans and alumni. That merchandise can have your (hopefully) high quality logo, or another custom design, printed on it. Having people buy something with your emblem on it serves two purposes.
- You will get the revenue from the sales.
- They become walking advertisements every time they wear that article of clothing or use that branded product.
Alumni want something they can wear and share with pride. Parents want something they can wear to support their children. Fans want something that shows others what band they like.
You must learn how to project the personality of your band program. The more people are invested in your success, the more likely they are to donate, volunteer, and promote you. Every concert you host should be promoted with visuals that entice people to attend. When reaching out to fans and alumni, make sure your message is tailored to your target audience and the particular platform you’re using. Have a brochure that showcases the impact of your program past & present with ways to contribute to the future. Send that brochure to potential donors and have a downloadable version for those who want to share with friends and family.
I received a brochure along with a letter from the band I marched in and love, the Blue & Gold Marching Machine. It encouraged me to join the “Elite 100” by giving $100 to the band. Becoming a member of the “Elite 100” earns you certain gifts to show the world you gave and to whom you have given. On Facebook, they announce who’s joined, which motivates others to join that number. Alums have coordinated with others they marched with to give jointly and help promote the fundraising effort. It has been so exciting to see the momentum. “Have you given?” is a common question that I’ve heard this summer. That’s the question you want your network of potential donors to ask one another.
In addition, your presentation matters. When recording your performances, do your best to get the best audio and video. When posting your video clips, have your band’s logo be in a bottom corner throughout. Have your logo at the beginning and end, where there should be ways to follow your band’s story on social media. The presentation of your performance can pull people in and create new fans. People want to see great bands. Underfunded band programs can use their great performances to highlight the need for donations to maintain that greatness. If you have specific needs that you are fundraising, produce videos that put those needs on display. Need scholarship money? Show and tell the stories of band members puttting in work. Need new instruments? Make a video showcasing dilapidated instruments and students struggling with them. Video is an incredibly powerful tool worth exploring. Consider producing a special disc of the highlights from each season with special features.
All of this, including your history and style, is your identity. Like any other nonprofit, business, or personal brand, you need to establish yourself within the community. Your identity should be it’s own, underneath the umbrella of your school. I’m not just an alumnus of North Carolina A&T State University who happened to be in the band. I am a loyal alumnus of the award-winning Blue & Gold Marching Machine of North Carolina A&T. The “BGMM” is a representative of the school. However, when they march down the street, there is no doubt who is coming. There is Southern University but there is also the Human Jukebox. There is Jackson State but there is also the Sonic Boom of the South. Florida A&M University is a fine institution of higher learning but I heard of the Marching 100 before I knew anything about the school. Investing in your identity can elevate you to new heights and in those heights lies possibilities.