Encore Tours director Nathan Cohen teaches 4th – 12th grade Orchestra and Chamber Music at Rockport Public Schools in Massachusetts, a small school district about an hour north of Boston.
For his upcoming trip to the Czech Republic and Austria, Nathan and his students raised $35,000 using Encore's fabulous fundraiser, which offers groups a free trip for two to Paris or London to use as a fundraiser for their upcoming performance tours! We asked Nathan to share his strategies for success to help other music directors and teachers make the most out their fundraising initiatives.
Very little of the money went into a general pool of any kind. Almost all of the raffle earnings went directly to the students who sold them. We made the tickets printable from home computers so that students could print and sell them over last summer. The majority of the money they earned came from tickets they sold independently to friends, family, and going door-to-door around town. Many students reached out to family friends via email and Facebook, and several sold tickets as Christmas presents.
“ The majority of the money [the students] earned came from tickets they sold independentlyto friends, family, and going door-to-door around town. Many students reached out to family friends via email and Facebook, and several sold tickets as Christmas presents. ”
Aside from independent selling, students (and their parents) signed up to man tables at farmers' markets, at the local transfer station, and at other town events. We had opportunities at all our music department events for student fundraising. Any money that was earned at music events was split between anyone working that event. “Working” included selling tickets, ushering, working as a stage hand or working on AV for the event.
We combined the Paris raffle with two other school raffles, and I think that helped a lot to make it more successful. In addition to Paris raffle tickets at $20 each, students were also selling $2 tickets for baskets of items that had been donated by local businesses. We had over thirty baskets in total with prizes over $3,000. We drew the winners of all those raffles at a final Spring Concert fundraiser, an extra concert that we planned for May to give the fundraising a boost before our final push next fall. At most music department events, we also ran 50/50 raffles and bake sales. Those usually brought in around $100-$200 per event. We found that having those different fundraisers running together, we were able to cover a lot of bases and we were able to market the fundraising in different ways, emphasizing different aspects of it, without over-saturating our small town.
“We found that having those different fundraisers running together, we were able to cover a lot of bases and we were able to market the fundraising in different ways, emphasizing different aspects of it, without over-saturating our small town. In total, we sold over 1,700 tickets[and the] total take for the students was somewhere close to $35,000. ”
In total, we sold over 1,700 tickets. At the final drawing we put them all into a cello case, from which they were almost overflowing. The total take for the students was somewhere close to $35,000.
For our previous international tour, we ran several fundraisers in which the money was divided evenly among everyone registered for the trip. This didn't prove effective, because there were plenty of registered families that didn't need the money and because it watered down the earnings for those who really did need it. It also presented the classic fundraising frustration in which a small group of people worked hard to raise money for the seemingly lazy majority. This time around, almost every dollar that went into a student's account came directly from time that they put into fundraising. That seemed to make a huge difference. The students found that they could make significant money toward their trip if they put forth the effort.
One of the first concerts of this season, only a few students showed up to work. The students made around $200 each that night just from raffle tickets. Word spread quickly that students could earn that kind of money and quickly we had lots of kids signing up to work the events.