Fundraising Ideas for Your Music Classroom

by Abby @ Quaver on August 9, 2012

in Grant Watch

Florida teacher Jim Estes is back for a final installment in his Fundraising series!

Jim started by pointing out the various sources of funding music teachers have at their disposal, then he taught us the importance of parental assistance to a successful fundraising effort. Buckle your seat belts, because today, we’re getting practical with Jim’s master list of . . . 

Fundraising Ideas for YOUR Music Classroom!

Fundraising Ideas for Music Teachers

Take it away, Jim!


1.  Find something that your students need and provide it for a reasonable price, while making a profit.

One regular source of funds I have is from the sale of recorders to my students.  Our school store used to sell these to the students, buying the recorders for $3 and selling them for $3.50.  With almost 1000 students at two recorders each, this could theoretically have yielded $1000, about 1.5 times the amount provided by the school district for music each year!  After doing the math, I asked that part of the profit be channeled into the music department, but was denied because of a technicality of school board policy.  I immediately decided to take on the sale of the recorders and keep the profit as a fundraiser for my program.

I found a source for comparable recorders that cost $1.95 plus shipping, and decided to sell them for $4.  I felt $4 was at or below the price of recorders in the reputable music stores and the low price plus the convenience was an advantage to the parents (not to mention that we did not charge them sales tax).  The same company sells a better recorder (and better looking, too) for $4.25.  Since my school is in an affluent area, I offered this “designer” recorder for $10.  Not surprisingly I sold more of the designer recorders than the basic ones, and I made over $5 profit on each one. As a result of these decisions, I’ve made as much as $3,000 selling recorders in one year! You may easily take this concept and adjust the prices down to a level you feel is comfortable for your families.

The profit generated not only provides extra money for our music program, it makes it possible for me to provide free recorders for any student whose family suffers financial hardship. 

$ Bonus Tip: Work with other programs to meet a common need! $

Last year, the Math Lab teacher and I decided to require each kid to have a set of ear buds. We’d both had problems with the earphones we provided wearing out and needing to be replaced, and we had little success with asking students to bring their own to class. I went on line and found a source at a cost of $1 each.  Since I know the cheapest available in local stores is $5, we decided we could sell them for $4 at school, save the parents money, offer the parents convenience, AND make a profit of $3 each pair. We don’t know how much this will generate, but there is potential for a small profit from this source.


2. Find a product that is desirable, but not common in your area.

A few years ago I taught in upstate New York where the music program was quite strong and the high school had a superior marching band with good community support. The marching band started a sale of Indian River Citrus fruit between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  With snow on the ground at that time of the year, oranges and grapefruit were rather exotic. The first year the profit from the sale was $12,000, and the sale has repeated each year since.   Latest reports are a profit in the range of $36,000!

This kind of sale requires a lot of manpower and organization to get the fruit delivered while it’s still fresh, but works great in the North in the Winter. I don’t think it would work here in Florida!  :-)

A key factor in the success of both citrus fruit and recorders sales is to provide a product of comparable or superior value to anything available in local stores in a convenient manner. A good amount of community support for music always helps, too!

Other products you might sell in this way:

  •  light bulbs
  • brooms
  • plastic garbage bags
  • cheesecakes
  • pencils


3. Host a Something-thon

The idea of a something-thon* has been around for a long time!  The basic concept is that the kids ask friends and relatives from all over the country for sponsorships for each unit of activity (lap run or math problem completed, or 5 minutes played by a band, or flip by a gymnast). The sponsorship can be pennies per unit or as much as the sponsor wants to donate.  There is a maximum target, so the sponsor is able to calculate the maximum donation.  I’ve seen this concept applied to band practices and car washes, as well (car wash is free, but the total number of cars washed is tallied for the donation).

In these days of high-stakes testing, I could see it applied to correct answers on the state achievement test.   That might be a way to turn something many educators see as counter-productive into a source of funds for education. Poetic justice!

The success of the something-thon depends on the students reaching out to a large group of people who donate a small amount per unit.

Prizes would be awarded for:

  • the most sponsorships
  • the sponsorship from the greatest distance
  • the class with sponsorships from the greatest number of different states
  • the largest amount raised

*”Boosterthon”  is the name of a company that runs our PTO fundraiser each year.  Our PTO President told me they brought in $48,000 last year!


4. Sell Student Privileges: Pajama Day/Crazy Hat Day

Some teachers sell the right to wear pajamas to school on a specific day, OR a crazy hat (the bigger and sillier the better) for a couple of dollars.  This is best done on a school-wide basis. In addition to payment of the fee, students can be required to have minimum grades and good behavior to participate.  These days are fun and generate some money for a good cause.


These are just a few ideas that have proven successful in past fundraising efforts!

Obviously, not every idea works equally well in every locale. Be on the lookout for possibilities at all times.   Sometimes you’ll try a project and decide it’s more work that it’s worth.  Look for projects that have higher profit potential and relatively low time requirements OR recruit parents to take the work load off you, the teacher.

Do you have any fundraising ideas to add to Jim’s awesome list? Leave them in the comments, and be sure to keep an eye on Quaver’s Grant Resources for help with grant applications to further support your music program!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jeannine Bergers Everett August 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm

What about partnering with a local community orchestra or band? We’re always looking for youth outreach opportunities. It can be a win/win – a joint concert with all proceeds going to the school music program. The community orchestra/band gets exposure to a new family audience, the kids get to meet musicians, and you get to raise money.


2 Ben Sexton August 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm

After producing Beauty and the Beast Junior last school year, we sold lightup roses along with a couple of raffle tix at each show. The raffle tickets were for prizes such as gift cards to various restaurants, both local and in nearby communities, home improvement stores, sports collectibles, and prize packs from radio stations. This generated enough extra cash for us to upgrade our costuming and pay for the meals that we fed in between Saturday shows. Could just as easily work for the school year though. Also, we got four one-day passes to Walt Disney World (courtesy of Disney) and raffled those off as well. Increased our nightly attendance and sales BIG TIME!


3 Sherrie Curry May 3, 2013 at 10:06 am

I am so intrigued by the idea of collecting pledges for correct answer on the end of the year test. I am going to see how plausible that is for us. Thanks for the idea.


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