Monday, November 7, 2016

Band-A-Palooza - The Best Fundraiser Ever!
by Charlie Bartrug

As directors, we are always in need of more money. When I went to Yukon in 2000, I inherited a dying magazine sale fundraiser. My wife Nancy (our middle school director) began the search for something better. She found something better – FAR better!

First, a brief history – From my research, I discovered that the idea of Band-A-Palooza was the brainchild of Roger Sharp in Mustang, OK. He designed the basic idea of a party with an admission fee. Later Belinda Watson, also of Mustang, took the idea and modified it. When Nancy borrowed the idea for our kids she and Kyle Wiemar (our other middle school director) make further modifications to fit our situation at Yukon. Eventually, Nancy moved to the High School and Kyle took over completely. In year one, our Middle School band kids cleared almost $25,000. Every year since has shown at least an $18,000 profit.

The document that follows is an introductory email sent by Kyle to some of our band director friends in other districts. (Word travels fast!) It outlines the basic ideas of Band-A-Palooza. Special thanks to Kyle for creating this outline and for giving me permission to us it. If any of you have further interest, feel free to email me at and I will be happy to send you all the documents that were attached to this email.

The basic idea:

Students are to raise $80.00 (or an amount of you feel appropriate) in monetary donations to earn the right to come to the Band-A-Palooza event. This event is held on your campus and will have many different fun activities for them to do. 100% of the donations come right into the band department. It's very easy!

Things to do first:

  1. This fundraiser is built more like a donation drive. You need to check with your administration to make sure they understand this. Some people I have suggested this to have had issues in the past.
  2. Know what you would like to do with the money raised. This is very important when asking donors for funds.
  3. Speak with your athletic director (if you have one) about use of space. You will want them to be fully aware of what is about to happen on that precious gym floor. If you have tarps to put down on the floor, do it.
  4. Get a custodian to sign on for you to work the day of the event. Trust me, it's worth every penny.
  5. You need to make sure you have access to a gym (or large space) for inflatables with plenty of electrical outlets.
  6. If you are planning to do outdoor water events, make sure you have a large area with access to electrical outlets AND water access. We have used our turf football field for this in the past. It works great and does not get muddy!
  7. Check with your cafeteria staff to see if you can have access to refrigerators and ice maker. This will be very important and can save you a lot of headaches.
  8. Think about the overall layout of your event. Bathroom access, storage for kid's belongings, and areas you want blocked off are key. My first year, we did not block off certain seating in the gym. It became a problem. Think about where you DO NOT want kids to go.

Things you need to do before you hand out paperwork to kids:

  1. Decide on a date for the event.
  2. Call inflatable companies to make sure everything you want is available. You will want to advertise to the kids what things will be at the event. We usually rent a jousting ring, one other sports related inflatable, a water slide, dunk tank, cash machine, and a mechanical bull. We use Dawn-To-Dusk Inflatables. The gentleman I deal with is named Mark. He can definitely help you out.
  3. Think of other activities to do during the event. In the past we have had a jousting tournament, egg toss, Twinkie eating contest, staff dunk tank times, a magician, and our game show hour. This helps the day not get boring. Be very creative and think outside the box. We also had a pizza lunch available to the kids.
  4. You need to decide how you would like for money to be turned in. In the past, we have allowed kids to turn in money on any day for two weeks. The past two years, however, we have had designated turn in days (read about this in the "bank breaker" portion of the prize section). This has helped a great deal. We have also allowed for students to bring money on the day of the event (read about this in The Event Day portion of the email).
  5. Decide prize incentives and be able to explain them to the kids (see Prizes).

Prizes: These are just some of the ideas we use. You can certainly come up with your own ideas, but these are just unique. You want to separate yourself from the regular school fund-raiser. We got the idea that kids like cash. They can buy whatever they want with cash. Sell them on that. This is how we based the following prizes:

  • Bank Breaker: this is a chance for someone to win 10% of total money raised. I know it sounds crazy, but the kids go nuts. The person that raised the most money overall, the 6th grade, the 7th grade, and the 8th grade all earn a chance at this prize. Also, the student who brings the most money on "Bank Breaker" turn in days will get a chance to play. There are 7 people total who get a chance to play. Yes, one student can earn two chances at this prize if they are the top 7th grade raiser and had the most money on a bank-breaker day. On the day of the event, we figure out a way to get these 7 kids down to 1 who will play for the 10% prize. I have a PowerPoint gameshow that I use that I have attached to this email. See BankBreaker.pptx and it's pretty self-explanatory. The students who don't get to play earn a cash prize of at least $50.00. We have never had a student win the big prize.
  • The $10.00 over rule. For the initial $80.00 raised students get their name in a drawing. We use this to determine who gets to play the gameshows at the end of the day, if we have gifts from local vendors to give out, time in the money machine, etc. For every $10.00 they go over $80.00 their name goes in the drawing an additional time. This serves as an extra incentive to raise more than just $80.00.
  • Gameshows. At the end of the event, we gather all of the kids into the gym for gameshow hour. I put together mini gameshows that students get to play for real cash prizes. I do Deal or No Deal, Let's Make a Deal, Price is Right, Minute to Win It, and some other things. I can send you all these files, they are just too big to include in this particular email. The kids LOVE THIS! And, it gives all you volunteers additional time to clean up while all of the kids are in the gym at the end of the day.
  • Money Machine. This is really simple. Draw a student’s name and have them get in the money machine you have rented from the inflatable company. We normally give them about 20 seconds or so. Have a lot of $1.00 handy--old bills work best.
  • Class Competition. During the two weeks or raising money, we keep a running tote board of how much each class has raised (i.e. 6th grade cornets vs. 7th grade band). The class that raises the most money per student will earn a pizza party during school.
  • Getting pied! We always tell the kids that the top money earner will get to pie one of the band directors in the face. Also, we give the kids a fund-raising goal of $25,000. If they hit it, all the band directors agree to take a pie to the face. It becomes a tradition you will know and love.

Hand-Outs for Parents and Kids

  1. Purchase small manila envelopes to give to all the kids to keep their paperwork. Trust me, this an expensive, but good purchase. Inside this envelope, put ten of the small tax deductible donation forms inside. I have attached that document to this email.
  2. In a stapled packet put the following documents: BAPHandout2014, What is Band-a-palooza, and Donation Page.doc. I tell the kids that this is the information they need to show potential donors. This is what makes you look official rather than a kid just asking for money.
  3. Print the BAPParentInfo on a different color of paper. This is information that needs to be given to parents only!

Launch Day

  1. Before this day, it's important that you create a "buzz" about Band-A-Palooza. I normally put up signs that day "Band-A-Palooza Coming Soon...." or "Mayhem will Ensue." Get the kids talking about it, but when asked questions just say "oh just wait and see."
  2. I always start by asking questions like "how many of you like money? "how many of you like parties?" "how many of you like water slides?" etc... Then explain to them all about the party and what will be there.
  3. Everyone needs to understand that $80.00 of monetary donations needs to be raised in order to come to the party. Parents will try to donate chips and drinks for the event and try to get it to count--don't let it!
  4. I always try to explain that while $80.00 is a lot of money, it is easy to raise. An example I give is that they can make 4 phone calls asking for $20.00 each. They don't even have to leave the house. Grandparents that live far away can mail you a donation. All it takes is about an hour to do. Make it seem like the easiest fund raiser they have ever done.
  5. Three words: Tax-Deductible Donation! I have the kids repeat that after me several times. Just explain it’s a grown up thing, but that it means a lot to grownups. Simply tell them to fill out one of the small strips of paper in their envelope and give it to the donor. This way the donor receives a tax deductible donation.
  6. We have the kids keep track of their donations on the donor page. We tell the kids to turn in this page with their money, however, I never really keep them for records. It's more for the kids than it is for you. Plus, it makes the even look more official to potential donors.
  7. Explain all of your prizes and turn-in days if you choose to have them.
  8. Make it known that the party is only for band students. No brothers or sisters, friends outside band, cousins, etc.
  9. Encourage parent help as best you can to the kids. Make sure they get home with the parent information so parents can get involved.
  10. At the end of your presentation, have the kids fold up all of their paperwork and put it in their envelope. Have them write their name, class, and hour on the envelope so that they can turn in any donations in it.

Things to do during the two weeks leading up to the event:

  1. You need to secure chaperones for the event. You will need parents and high school leadership team students to be chaperones at the event. Usually we do four, two hour shifts. Each shift consists of about 14 people. Each inflatable will need a supervisor, someone to guard your student’s belongings, someone to monitor the cafeteria, someone to monitor the overall gym, etc. You also need to think about your setup and cleanup of the event. The cleanup is harder than the setup. Get contact information for all volunteers. Get in touch with them the night before to make sure they know exactly where to meet you and what time to be there.
  2. You need to have parents sign up to bring food and drinks for the event. We had several volunteers bring soda, water, chips, desserts, etc. You cannot have enough food. We try to get these parents to bring the donation the day before the event, however, some bring it the day of. Get contact information for all of these people. Call to get confirmation they are bringing the things they agreed to the night before.
  3. Things you need to purchase: napkins, paper towels, utensils, cups, wristbands for kids when they check-in, caution tape to block of areas, duct tape (if comes in handy for a number of things!), and poster board to label where events are taking place. This is usually about a $90.00 Wal-Mart run for us. Keep in mind, you can always send a parent the day of to get anything you missed.
  4. Secure a way to store your soda. We always used large soda carts from our band parents. Use the ice machine you have talked to your cafeteria person about.
  5. An item you may want to consider having is a snow cone machine. Check with your band parents, someone might have one. You can go to Party Galaxy and buy any syrup that you may need. DO NOT GET A POPCORN MACHINE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE!!!!! TRUST ME!!!!!!
  6. Keep kids excited by keeping the class totals running in the band room tote board. Keep track and post how big the "bank" is getting for kids. In the middle of the week, we will get the kids together for a pep rally so to speak. We will let them know how much is being raised and such.
  7. Make sure you are keeping great records of students donations.

Day before event stuff to go over with students:

  1. Go over each student's balance with them, even the ones that have raised nothing. You want no surprises the day of the event. Make sure each student understands what you have records of and if they will be allowed into the party or not.
  2. Each student needs to be aware of where to "check-in" to the party. When they arrive we have each student check-in at a designated location. They receive a wristband to admit them into the event. At the check-in table there needs to be a record of each student's balance. Have this prepared and ready to go for tomorrow.
  3. Be sure each student knows what to bring. Advise them that a swimsuit or clothing that can get wet, messy, etc is a good idea. Tell them not to bring anything they don't want to get stolen. You are not responsible for lost things!

Day of event things to think about:

  1. Arrive very early. Make sure all necessary doors are unlocked, lights are on, water for hoses is working, etc.
  2. The first thing to do is get areas cautioned off that you do not want kids to go. Use tables to block off hallways. Designate which bathrooms are to be used. Rope off seating in gym and in stadium if you are going to use it. This was a lesson we learned the hard way!
  3. Get soft drinks iced down as quickly as you can so that they are cold for the kids when they arrive.
  4. This is likely when you are going to pay your inflatable person. Have a check/cash ready for them.
  5. Have a meeting with your first group of parents. Assign all chaperones a job ahead of time. Have a clear outline of what their responsibilities are so that they are able to relay that to the next shift of parents.
  6. Pick three parents you trust to be your check-in parents. You need to stand by the check in table if there happens to be a problem. If you have gone over each student's balance the day before, this should not be an issue.
  7. You, as the director, need to be as visible as possible throughout the day. Make sure that each area is being well supervised and there are no issues. Once you feel like things are running smoothly, interact with the kids as much as possible. This is a great chance for them to see you as not just a band director. Trust me, the water slide is really fun.
  8. At the end of the event when you are giving away prizes, make sure you have them ready to go. I usually put each cash prize in a labeled envelope. I write down how much is in each envelope to I can tally everything at the end. The cash machine is the most difficult to keep track of.
  9. At the very end of the day, have kids take home as many of the left over food items as possible to get rid of them.

Other bits of information:

  1. Overall, the party costs us around $3,500 to put on. That is everything including prizes for kids, pizza lunch, inflatables, facility usage costs, Wal-Mart runs, etc.
  2. Don't freak out if money is not turned in right away. My biggest turn in day is always at the end. I usually receive over $10,000 on the last day of turn in and about $3,500 on the day of the event itself. Don't panic early on!!! Our first year, Nancy Bartrug and I nearly had a heart attack. Let me spare you that!
  3. I'll be honest and tell you we paid for a lot of things in cash. Our district is very good about letting us make a large deposit at the end of the event. If you can keep some cash behind to allow for any unforeseen issues the day of the event, it's easier. I even pay for my inflatables with cash on the day of the event. It saves major headaches with POs and checks.
  4. You will have parents who chaperone bring their younger daughters and sons. Have a plan in place for what you would like to do about that. Keep in mind also, any parent that arrives early will also bring their students.
  5. This is fund-raiser that needs to be ever changing. Meaning kids that did it in the sixth grade have to have a reason to come when they are in 8th grade. We have made many additions and modifications to the event from when it started. Allow yourself room to grow. I can give you some ideas I was going to use at Yukon for the next few years to keep it interesting. Just food for thought when you continue to put this on.

I hope this information helps you. If you have any questions or want to talk through anything, please let me know. I know this is a bit overwhelming, but I thought at least putting it all down would be best. Best of luck to you all. May you earn millions!!!


Charlie Bartrug
Manager and Educational Consultant
Palen Music Center -- Oklahoma City

Charles Bartrug retired in 2014 after 33 years as a public school band director. The last thirteen years were spent as High School Band Director and Coordinator of Instrumental Music in Yukon, OK. Before coming to Yukon, Mr. Bartrug was band director at Midwest City HS, Guthrie High School, Owasso Junior High, and Collinsville Junior High. Bands under Charlie's direction have earned twenty one O.S.S.A.A. Sweepstakes Awards and three Double Sweepstakes Awards. The Guthrie High School Concert Band performed as an honor group for the OMEA Convention in 1999, and the Yukon High School Wind Ensemble performed in 2014. Mr. Bartrug is a recent inductee into the Oklahoma Bandmaster's Hall of Fame. He earned National Board Certification in 2004, was the 2005 Oklahoma Bandmasters Association Band Director of the Year, the 2005 Yukon High School Teacher of the Year, and a 2009 OMEA Exemplary Teacher.


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