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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, January 7, 2008


The PMC Quick Note is a weekly service provided to all area directors.  It is part of our mission to support the lives of band directors across the Midwest.  The weekly Quick Note contains helpful tips and suggestions from area directors, spotlights on area college and university band programs, calendars of upcoming events, advocacy articles promoting music education, links to helpful web resources, and much more.  Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues.

Please Help Me Pay The Bills! by Eric Matzat
Welcome back from your holiday break! The turn of the calendar to a new year is always a chance to set goals and look ahead with eager anticipation. It is also the time to formulate budgets for the next school year, plan for spring concert and jazz trips, send in instruments to be repaired and maintained, plan for instrument and equipment purchases, purchase music, and fund upcoming marching band expenses. How are you going to pay for all of these projects? In addition to school budgets and booster fund raisers, finding a generous sponsor or business can make the difference between achieving your goals or falling short.

Here are some suggestions on approaching some local businesses for financial help:

  1. Identify your target audience
    From whom are you seeking donations? Identify several businesses or individuals who have an involvement in the arts and are sympathetic to the financial struggles of your program. Once you have identified a business to approach, be sure to find the person in the business who truly has the authority to make the decision regarding the donation. Otherwise, you will quickly receive a smile and a polite "no thank you".

  2. Have a specific goal in mind
    If you approach a business or individual with a blanket request for a donation, you probably won't get very far. Have a clear proposal outlining your wishes. Are you seeking funding for a trip, for a piece of equipment, for colorguard uniforms, for band camp staff, for scholarships, or for an equipment trailer? What is your timeline? How would the donation help the students in the band or orchestra program? Clear and precise goals and explanations are vital for your success. Try putting together a wish list with immediate, short-term, and long-term goals. You might find that someone is willing to fund a smaller immediate need and possibly budget for a long-term need in the future.

  3. A personal touch is best
    The best contacts are made by you or your inner circle of booster officers. Sending out a herd of band parents to canvas the town is not the best approach. The only way to secure a long-term, generous benefactor is to establish an open relationship where clear goals, specific plans, deadlines, feedback, and outcomes can be communicated. As they say, if you want something done right, you're going to have to do it yourself. Personal visits...not phone campaigns...will yield the best results.

  4. What's in it for the business?
    Remember that the business climate is difficult and discretionary money is very limited. Explain to the business owner how their contribution will help individual students. Explain how the band program can reciprocate the kindness. Maybe your students can clean the parking lot, wash the windows, cut the grass, or help them with an advertising drive.

  5. Be thankful
    Find a way to recognize the financial contributors that support the program, no matter how small the contribution. List sponsors on your band t-shirt, trailer, website, football games, and concerts. Have a student ensemble surprise them with some music at Christmas. Send them monthly updates detailing the progress of the program. Send them photos of the kids in action. Give them a plaque to hang in their business as a sponsor of your program. Have students write detailed letters about what the sponsorship has allowed them to do. Most importantly, thank the donor in person with sincere gratitude, a warm smile, and a big hug. When they realize the impact they are making, they will be more likely to continue their support in future years.

  6. Have the support of your administrators
    If you are going to be approaching key businesses in your community for financial support, it is always best to fill your administrators in first. Let them know who you are approaching, and for what purpose.

  7. Be persistent
    Sending one form letter just won't be enough. Be prepared to call, visit, and follow up. Even though this is a time-consuming process, securing some corporate sponsors is infinitely less time consuming than doing multiple car washes and bake sales.

  8. Don't be afraid to ask -- or to think big
    You'll never get anything if you ask for nothing. Think big. What are some things you'd love to accomplish with your kids? What will it take financially to accomplish that goal? Ask everybody for everything. Approach your school board with your plan and ask how they can help. Sit down with your building principal in your instrument room and show him/her the instruments that need to be replaced in the coming years. Ask your band parents for leads in the community for potential sponsors and then go through the steps outlined above to approach them with your plan.

Following the steps outlined above will add to the success of finding key financial contributors to your program. Dream big, develop a specific plan, hit the pavement, follow up, and repeat. The benefits can revolutionize your program. Good luck!

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center

Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


(417) 882-7000
Bob Hopkins, Mike Brown, Jeromy Pope, and Jim Wilson
  Springfield North (417) 862-2700 Burl Williams
  Columbia (573) 256-5555 Robert Pitts
  Joplin (417) 781-3100 Wayne Blades and Zach Houser
  Liberty (816) 792-8301 Ken Crisp and Dick Murdock
  Broken Arrow (918) 770-6827 Mackey Amos and Mark VanVranken
If you would like to submit material, make changes or corrections, give comments, or wish to be removed from this mailing list, please contact Eric Matzat.