Music Ed Mentor Podcast #008: Your Fundraising Questions Answered

Music Ed Mentor Podcast #008: Your Fundraising Questions Answered

The number one frustration most teachers face is a lack of funding. Most teachers turn to fundraising to overcome this frustration, but most fundraisers come with their own challenges. If you’re teaching in an impoverished area, how do you ask the community for money? How do you add the time and energy required to run a successful fundraiser to your already busy schedule?

There must be other options.

This episode of the Music Ed Mentor Podcast is all about those options. I’ll be answering your questions directly, using my own background in fundraising and business, as well as sharing advice and tips from music educators around the country.

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In This Episode, You’ll Learn How To:

  • Set an appropriate fundraising goal for your program’s needs.
  • Ask businesses to sponsor your program in a way that also helps them.
  • Decide if crowdfunding is the right option for you.
  • Get started with grant writing.

Free “Funding Without Fundraising” Guide

I’ve compiled my favorite tips for getting funding — without doing a traditional fundraiser — into a handy PDF. Download it for free and try these six strategies for getting funding faster and more efficiently.

Download the free checklist

Three Key Takeaways

“Create a ‘powerful ask.'”

A “powerful ask” is a list of all the things you want and need for your program, backed up by a clear description of how each one will make a difference for the students and the school. Then, make the list more powerful by connecting it to emotional stories that people can relate to. Once you’ve got that ask ready, take it to the places you already have access to, like your school’s PTA. You’ll be surprised how much these organizations want to help.

“If a business isn’t comfortable giving money, they can give goods or services that your program can use.”

These are called “in-kind” donations, and they’re wonderful. You get valuable items that your program can use (or sell and use the proceeds to fund other projects). The business gets to claim the full retail value of the good or service as charitable giving (rather than what it actually cost them).

“Decide which fundraisers can simultaneously support your curriculum and generate income.”

Sometimes we forget that fundraising can be a learning opportunity as well! This is why charging for concerts can be a great way to raise money. The kids are involved and you’re teaching music. If you don’t want to charge for “regular” concerts, special events can become fundraisers. Consider a chamber music showcase or a “play-a-thon,” where people can pledge based on how long the kids keep playing.


Elisa Janson Jones specializes in helping music educators build, grow, and manage thriving school music programs. With an MBA alongside her degree in music, she is also a coach and consultant to small businesses and nonprofits around the country, and serves as the conductor of her local community band. She has been teaching music for nearly 20 years and currently holds the prestigious position of elementary music teacher at a private K-8 Catholic School in Grand Junction, Colorado. Elisa was a top presenter at the NAfME National Conference in 2017 and will be presenting at state conferences in 2018. She is the founder of the International Music Education Summit and the author of The Music Educator’s Guide to Thrive.

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