Money Saving Tips??

| October 24, 2011 | 8 Comments

Today will be a quick post (well… none of my posts end up quick… I think I’m incapable of “short and concise…) and a link to an interesting discussion.

First, if you haven’t discovered the new “Marching Roundtable” podcast take a minute a click on over there … well… first finish reading this post and then click over!

Pretty please??

It’s a new podcast website where the hosts have long discussions with experienced music, marching and color guard educators.  So far there have been podcast episodes with Bart Woodley of WGI, George Hopkins of YEA/USSBA/Cadets and others.  It’s fascinating to get a glimpse into the varied opinions and experiences of those with a long-term view of the marching arts activities.

Today they posted what they call a “Roundtable Brief,” which is a shorter length podcast (this one is 17 1/2 minutes) that was generated from something said in one of the longer podcasts.  Today’s brief is titled “Prioritizing the Color Guard in Dire Circumstances.”

It’s an interesting discussion between the podcast host, Joe, and band director Tim Hinton.  Hinton suggests the needs of the music program must take priority over the needs of the auxiliary program and when it comes to an either/or situation the music program needs win out.  Joe challenges him on this statement throughout, pointing out that in many programs today the auxiliary students are seen not as an “extra” part of the program but as equals.  Ultimately they settle on the fact that in most cases it’s possible to find a happy medium – to find ways to serve all students in the program… but that the situations being focused on by Hinton in his assertion are the most dire situations where funding a color guard comes at the detriment of running a successful music education program.

While it can be a scary statement to hear, it is one that color guard educators face every year at budget time.  In most schools it’s a situation where we’re trying to fund a competitive color guard program within a larger music education program with a sense of balance.  Let’s face it – this activity can get insanely expensive if you’re traveling all over the country for competitions every year.  In a difficult economic climate I’m sure that many of us (myself included) have been faced with developing a reasonable budget, defending that budget, trimming said reasonable budget by a lot, presenting the revised version… etc.. etc..

So I would challenge all our readers to bring your creativity to the table here – rather than get upset over these types of conversations – where we can become emotional because we feel a need to defend our programs – let’s be pragmatic.

Tight budgets are a reality.

Let’s join together in sharing ways that we can save money in our programs – ways we can trim budgets here and there – and effective ways to fundraise.

Through our collective experiences we can share all our individual best-practices for saving money and come up with a variety of cost-cutting and fund-raising options to help support programs everywhere.

Our fundraising and budget section here is small right now.  Let’s join together and focus on that area of CGE and build that resource.

Will you join us?

  • Will you send in your best budget saving tip?
  • Will you share your most unique or profitable fundraiser?
  • Will you share how your group managed to face a budget challenge and pull through with a successful season?
  • Will you share how your budget process works?

We’ve all seen groups – even at the national level – who have created intensely creative products “with less.”  We’ve seen groups that reused equipment, re-used floors, used only one flag for an entire show, didn’t use a floor at all, borrowed or shared equipment with another school.  It takes a lot of creativity and some networking.

What ideas can we share that might enable that program on the brink of elimination to survive and provide another season of educational experiences for their performers?

Don’t worry about whether or not you’re “a writer.”  Send us your tip and if you’d like we can make it “look prettier.”  Don’t worry if you think your idea was specific to your own group – maybe half way across the country there is a group just like yours and your tip just might be their saving grace.

If it might help one team it’s worth sharing.

So here’s the link to Marching Roundtable and their newest podcast “Roundtable Briefs: Prioritizing the Color Guard in Dire Circumstances.”

And please leave your comments/tips/ideas for us below in the comments section or email us with your money-saving, cost-cutting or fund-raising ideas by clicking here!


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Category: Fundraising/Budgets, Instruction, Latest News, On The Web, Professional Development, Team Management

About the Author (Author Profile)

Catina Anderson is the founder/editor of the Colorguard Educators blog. Color guard has been part of her life for almost 25 years. She began coaching in 1994 and worked with the Broad Run High School color guard in Northern VA from 1998 until 2010. She has also written for Halftime Magazine and served on the Executive Board of the Atlantic Indoor Association. A former teacher, she enjoys sharing what she has learned and hopes to encourage others to share as well. Together we can create even more positive experiences for performers and help to collectively strengthen marching arts activities worldwide.

Comments (8)

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  1. Loving the great ideas being sent in so far! Thank you to everyone who is taking a minute to share what you’ve done. Please keep the ideas coming! Together we can make sure our activity is both financially efficient and well-funded.

  2. Robin Swanson says:

    My team put on a recital as a fundraiser. Everyone on the team participated, either with a routine, or with the bake sale that accompanied the recital. Lucky for us, we were able to rent performance space for free through the College because we are a College-sponsored club. We had a a wide variety of routines: solos, duets and small groups, all self-choreographed by the performers! All the members were able to express themselves through their routine, and it was a great learning experience to write their own. We did not charge for admission, but took donations. Our parents and friends were very generous, most donated $10-20 for baked goods and the show. It also turned into a end-of-season send-off of sorts. The Senior Captains gave gifts to the team and we were surprised that the team presented us with flowers at the end. It was a fairly low-effort, very low-cost fundraiser that not only helped with the budget, but showed off the team’s skills!

    • Sounds great Robin! I bet that other college and university programs would love to hear more details about how you put together this performance/fundraiser. If you’d like to write something up to submit as a guest post please email us!

  3. Sara says:

    This past fall, our band program purchased a button maker, and the first batch of button supplies for our color guard. The total cost on this was $600.

    With that button maker, we sold photo buttons to band parents for $5 each. I’m a photographer, so we scheduled to take the photos the day of the first home game, and did those just prior to the band’s report time. We did this with our high school and junior high marching bands. We not only paid the band back, but profited about $1500 off the photo buttons alone.

    We also designed and had printed in color some cute little saying buttons (a picture of a marimba-that’s how I roll). The types of things you see on shirts at events–and sold them for $2 at the marching contest we host, and our all-region honor band events—profited another $600.

    We bought a 3 inch button maker, from American Button supply. We’ve been able to alleviate the cost of a lot of our clinicians, and purchasing new sabers for the junior high through the profits. I can’t wait for this fall because all our supplies are already paid for, and every penny we take in will be profit :)

    • Sara – sounds awesome!

      If you’d like to write up a separate article on this I would love to post it. I bet other coaches would love to hear this idea. And they’d be more likely to find it in it’s own article than here in the comments. Interested in writing another guest post? :)

  4. Robin Swanson says:

    I’d love to write an article about the fundraiser! Are there any length requirements or such that I should keep in mind?

  5. Beth says:

    I was young when i first started instructing my old high school color guard. I was only 19. The very first thing i was faced with was a limit of $200.00. My first thought was “how can you create a show with so little?” After about 2 weeks of thinking about it and going through everything we had in stock, i found a set of old uniforms i had actually used when i had been in the color guard myself. They were perfect except the center panel in the dress was the wrong color. So what i did was order fabric from a nearby store, and with the help of my seamstress friend we changed the color and altered the uniforms to fit the girls we had. It cost maybe $60.

    I also found some flags i had used before. They were gigantic, made for a ten foot pole. I actually used them as bolts of fabric and ordered another set of fabric, and made new flags myself.

    We also found a set of flags we already had to use and ordered one more set of flags from a used equipment site.

    With all of that we actually came in under budget.

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