July 8, 2015     Tori Cook

Funding Your Music Program in Under 1 Hour


Bake sales? Car washes?! Who has time for that?

As music teachers, we try to focus all of our time and energy just on teaching the music. But, we are often bombarded with additional responsibilities, such as organizational structure and finances of our music programs. Fundraising, while necessary, can also be time-consuming for the music teacher. These simple ideas can raise funds in a flash, keep your planning time under an hour and leave you with extra time to focus on the music!

Register Your Music Program on Amazon Smile

Amazon Smile is the same as Amazon except they donate .5% the price of eligible purchased items to the non-profit of the buyer’s choice! Buyers purchase their Amazon products through smile.amazon.com and your organization receives the donations. It’s that easy! While .5% may not seem like much, over time it does add up and let’s be honest, would we ever turn down free money??

Your program must be a 501(c)(3) public charitable organization to be eligible and according to Amazon Smile’s site you only need 5 things to get started:

  • EIN
  • Organization Administrator (someone on file to manage the account)
  • Email address
  • Organization’s bank account information
  • Voided check or bank statement

Once you’ve set up your account, make sure your member/families/friends make their Amazon purchases through smile.amazon.com and that they choose your organization as their primary charity of choice.

Estimated set up time: 30 minutes- 1 hr.

“Plan” a Non-Event

That’s right, you heard me! A non-event is essentially a specific date/timed event that people can participate in without even having to leave their couch. Here’s an example:

Awesome Music Academy is hosting their annual non-event “Please, don’t come” on Sunday, Jun 21, 7pm. Help us raise funds for our upcoming choir tour in 2016 from the luxury of your own home. Enjoy a pint of ice cream and your favorite Netflix series and send us your donations via paypal: awesomemusic@fakeemail.com. RSVP “no” if you can or can’t make it.

You can see the beauty of this already, right? First of all, there’s NO planning other than just promoting that you are raising funds. Then, there’s the fact that you’re not really asking anyone to take time out of their busy schedules. Bonus. Plus, you’re not spending any of your well-earned funds on the event itself. GENIUS!

All you have to do is choose your event, brainstorm a creative way to promote it and send out the “invites”. Follow-up with some reminders – “seriously, please don’t come” – and you’re set.

What are you waiting for? Don’t “plan” your non-event right now!

Estimated time: 30 min to brainstorm your non-event plus 1+ hrs promotional time depending on how many friends you have. Remember to delegate!

What I like to call “Classical Musician Conditioning”

This is similar to a “swear jar” but specifically for musicians. Musician forgot their pencil during rehearsal? Quarter in the jar. Left their music at home? Quarter in the jar. Missed a performance? Quarter in the jar (and maybe a lecture about responsibility).  You get my point.

Come up with a list of items that require a “fee” and post in your rehearsal room. Offer an alternative for people who can’t afford to be dropping quarters all of the time. Perhaps decide that the “payment” can be a quarter OR an idea for a clever fundraising project/a repertoire suggestion for the group, etc. Eventually, people might just start putting things in the jar and that’s ok too. This is, after all, just a silly, easy way to fundraise (perhaps Pavlov would disagree). All the money or ideas will go back into your music program either way!

Note: This is best used as an honor system and should only be filled at the end of each class, so as not to disrupt class time.

Estimated time: How long does it take you to buy a jar and write some rules on a poster? (psst… don’t forget to buy your jar on Amazon Smile!)

Put a Donation Button on Your Website

In this digital world, no one is writing checks anymore; payments are done online. So how do you expect people to donate to your program if you don’t have an easy, online option for donations? There are plenty of companies you can choose from for your online donations, but keep in mind that all of them take some sort of cut of the proceeds. PayPal comes highly recommended as a low-fee and secure method of obtaining donations. They even have a step-by-step guide to setting it up!

Once you’ve set up your account and created the button, you may need to ask your web designer to post the button to your site.

Estimated time: 30 minutes-1 hour for creating an account and setting up the button.

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