There are many things we as student leaders do to make sure our Student ACDA Chapters are active and excited to grow our talents as choral conductors and educators. In order to make sure guest speakers can visit, conferences can be attended, and all of your other needs are met, the daunting task of finding money is almost always at the top of the list. As many of know, the number one way many find money is through fundraising.
Fundraising can seem like a huge project at first. What will we do? How do we start? Who do we talk to? These questions, among many others, all must be addressed before a successful fundraiser can be accomplished. To find these answers, follow these guidelines:
1. What's your goal?
In order to have a successful fundraiser, you need to know why you are raising the money. Do you need to raise the money for a speaker? Do you need to raise money to send a member to the national convention? Establishing the purpose of your fundraiser helps everyone know where their money will be spent. Few student, teachers, or community members will want to donate to an organization without knowing how you plan to spend their money. Always be honest with your audience. If they follow up on your fundraiser, they want to see that their money did what it needed to do.
Also, make clear how this will help you as individuals and a group. Whatever the goal, it needs to benefit not just the individuals but also the organization. Even better, consider how it may help the campus community. The more you know about why you need to fundraise, the more you can share with your audience and financial supporters.
2. How much do you need?
Along with establishing your goal, figure out how much you need to raise. You need to know what you need to raise and how much of it needs to be raise from one or more fundraisers. Depending on what you need, one fundraiser may be enough. If you are trying to send several students to the national convention, you may need to do more than one fundraiser to get to the finish line. No matter what, have a set amount you need to raise with each fundraiser. It will help give all of your members direction and purpose in helping raise the money.
3. What type of fundraiser should you do and when?
I divide fundraisers into two major categories: Long Term (or reoccurring) and Short Term (or special events). Long Term fundraisers usually happen yearly and are the staple fundraisers your campus will come to know. Perhaps you sell T-shirts at every choir event you bring high schoolers on to your campus. Some find a big, yearly bake sale around the holidays have students excited to spend a dollar or two at your table. Whatever it is, it is a fundraiser that you can plan to do every year. These types of fundraisers often are great for activities you do yearly such as bringing guest speakers or performers to your campus.
Short Term or special event fundraisers are exactly as the title states: these fundraisers are done to raise for special events or activities that do not occur yearly. Perhaps you decide you want to send a representative to a district conference. Instead of spending your yearly budget, do a short term fundraiser to help cover the costs. With short term fundraisers, it is more important than ever to know how much you need to raise, how you will spend it, and how many people will benefit from it. Know this before you start the fundraiser. Once you begin, you need to stick to your goals and not let anything fluctuate. If you find out you miscalculated and then need to find more money, people will begin to think twice before donating to your cause again. People want to donate to fundraisers that are well organized, have clear goals, and make sure the money is spent exactly how it was meant to when the fundraiser is over.
4. Public Relations
The last thing to remember when it comes to your fundraising is that this is one of the most visible events for your group. You will either help get the campus around your organization or turn them away. Too often, organizations do fundraisers that are not clear in their goals or are not well organized and excited for their cause. Organizations with mediocre fundraisers quickly find themselves with few members and few connections. Your fundraisers not only help you get the money you need for the year, they also help you create excitement that may bring new members to your organization. Others from the campus community (non-music) may decide to have you help them with other activities on campus which can expand your membership and opportunities to find funding (grants, donations, etc.). Let your fundraisers be more than just a fundraiser; make it a staple to your campus community that connects everyone to support good causes.
Best wishes as you begin your fundraising endeavors. You can do it!
Mr. Eric Mohlis
Western Illinois University