Fundraising: Rotating Change Jar

| September 25, 2012 | 1 Comment

I have made it a personal mission to never do a car wash to make money for my program.

I have nothing against the idea of a car wash, and I know many groups that have successfully raised a lot of money from this type of fundraiser, but for me there are too many factors that can go wrong.  It can rain, a road detour three blocks down can deflect traffic from the area, or a kid can slip, fall and break her hand two days before the first show…

(don’t scoff, it happened to me!)

So, when I took over my own team I set forth to research and try out a variety of unique fundraisers.  I will share the ones I find success with here on CGE.

Keep in mind that laws apply to different locations and programs based on your program description, band booster by-laws, etc. Be aware of your own fundraising limits.

My favorite fundraiser so far has been the Rotating Change Jar.

Rotating the Jar throughout the Community

The idea is a common one.  Simply set a jar near the cash register of a business to collect change.

My idea differs slightly in that the jar doesn’t stay at one location.

On the first of every month someone from my staff or I will pick up the jar, take it to the coin-counter at a local grocery store and drop the emptied jar off at a different local business.

Any company in the rotation only has the jar for one month out of the year, and if a company declines involvement a second time I don’t lose my entire funding source.  I have eleven months to find another company to work with.

I like the “rotating” part of this idea for three reasons.

  1. Relying too heavily on sponsorship from any one business limits the amount of support you can get from them.
  2. My program is on display to a larger slice of the population on a yearly basis.
  3. I have the opportunity to introduce a small level of competition between the businesses.

How Much do we Earn?

On average, we collect about $200 a month in change.

That’s $2400 for the year with very little labor!

For us it’s enough to cover all the little things that used to come out of pocket: bolts, hair pieces, makeup, and a few big purchases that were not approved through the band boosters.

Our Business Partnerships

I approached the management at several local companies and asked for one month of counter space to collect change.

In exchange, the business gets:

  • a framed and signed picture of my group
  • a thank-you message sent to the marching band Facebook group (in essence, free advertising to all the members, parents, friends, alumni etc. associated with us).

AND, because I love a little bit of competition…

  • the business that collects the most change in a given year also gets show t-shirts and advertising in the local paper. Show t-shirts cost us about $100, but the advertising space is donated because we ask the newspaper editor very nicely.

Getting sponsorship from local businesses isn’t all that difficult if you choose successful companies. A lot of the boutique-y stores in my town, like the homemade ice cream parlor, the art gallery and the coffee shop are very proud to be part of this community and are therefore very supportive of the schools. We also have some very popular bars and nightclubs.

I’ve found non-national chains to be more receptive to this idea than chains but that depends entirely on the the management staff.

Since I firmly believe in teaching my students how to run successful programs in addition to spinning and dancing, I took my Captains with me when I met with the management.  It is also much harder for the business managers to say no to a child.

Take a Peek at Our Jar

The jar we have is actually a drum that has been re-purposed into a piggy bank.  It was created by a very ingenious drum instructor and my good friend Dave Coryell.  My performers then pasted photos of us to it (glittery, of course).

It is definitely eye-catching and representative of the individuality of our group, which I think helps people identify with where their money is going.

I like this fundraiser because once it is set up the labor involved is low, it’s great for community awareness, and the performers don’t have to participate. While generally I do think the kids should do the majority of the work for fundraising, too much time required outside of the rehearsal/performance schedule can also be a public relations nightmare with parents. Sometimes it’s nice to have a continuous source of money coming from outside the sphere of member involvement.

And, well, sometimes it’s also just nice to have a continuous source of income… period!

Note* If you’d like to buy a drum piggy bank, check out or email

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Category: Fundraising/Budgets, Team Management

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  1. Derek Harmon says:


    A nice article. You’re a good writer! You mentioned in the article that, “I set forth to research and try out a variety of unique fundraisers. I will share the ones I find success with here on CGE.” This sharing is wonderful because so many groups need funding and many disband for lack of funds in this down-economy.

    I can relate to your other comment that “too many factors can go wrong” with car washes and other fundraisers. I grew up marching in drum corps (Pioneer) and my sisters competed in colorguard. Though I loved competing, I disliked the fundraising requirement of selling overpriced pizza, candy bars etc that people didn’t need or want. So, I developed Scratch Funds specifically for the marching arts.

    Please take a look at our unique fundraiser at: I want to do all that I can to help colorguard, percussion, and dance groups to thrive and compete! Maybe your webmaster is also looking for links to embed on your site so your customers can raiser funds to pay for your services? Your thoughts?

    Thank you,

    Derek Harmon ( )
    Colorguard & Percussion Liason

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