Put Your Shirts to Work!

| October 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

Does your guard get cute, new spirit shirts each season?

Why not put the empty space on the back of the shirt to work for your program?  

Several years ago, we began selling ad space on the back of our winter guard shirts.   Five years and over $15,000 raised later, it’s become the staple fundraiser of our winter programs.  Our ad sales are able to fund the majority of what we do for winter guard, providing relief to an already strained band budget.

Step 1: Get Permission

The first step is to get permission from not only your director of bands, but also your administration.  Some schools may have agreements with businesses to promote them across all school organizations through advertising.  In addition, the administration may want to make certain this project won’t interfere with other ad sales, such as yearbook or athletic calendars.  They may set limits or ask that you not solicit certain types of businesses.

You know the old saying ‘it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission?’

Well, in this case, it’s most definitely better to ask for permission.

Step 2: Set parameters for participation

Next you have to decide if participation in this fundraiser is optional or required.  If you require it, what’s the consequence if students choose not to participate?

Each student in our winter program is required to sell $90 worth of ads.  If they don’t sell the ads, they have to pay the $90 to participate in winter guard.  Any sales the student makes over the required $90 goes directly to his/her account to help cover uniform and travel costs.

Every year we have numerous students who not only meet their fundraising goal, but also cover most, if not all, of their expenses.

Step 3: Determine Cost and Size

The cost and size of the ads will have a huge impact on your sales volume.  We do name only ads for $30, and the larger business card sized ads are $100.

Something else to consider when setting your cost; how much will your printer charge to digitize a logo?

It varies from company to company, but most are between $10 to $30.  That cost should be built into the larger ads so you aren’t having to cover digitizing costs out of the funds you’ve raised.

Some other things to consider when determining cost:

  1. How many people will wear the shirt?  The larger the audience, the more you can charge-think Super Bowl ads
    1. How many kids are in the program?
    2. How many parents will buy shirts?
  1. How else can you promote these ads?
    1. Band concerts?
    2. Guard home shows/contests?

In addition to the larger ads on the shirts, any business that purchases a $100 ad from us is promoted with signage and announcements at our guard home show.  Businesses love that they will get a special announcement made to thank them for their support.

We also encourage any of the students or parents who patronize those businesses to thank them personally next time they are in.  Sometimes they forget they bought the ad until someone thanks them when doing business there.  It’s amazing for repeat sales!

Step 4: Consider Bartering

Consider whether or not you will take goods in trade for ad space.  We’ve offered free space to companies that have donated paint for our mat.   This year a business sold us materials at cost to build our props-it saved us over $300, so we made sure to include them on our shirt in return.

Step 5: Hold a Pre-sale Meeting

  • The Sign Up List

Have a sales meeting with your students before sending them out to sell.  Let them brainstorm where they want to go and have them sign up.  This prevents too many kids from repeatedly calling on the same company and, more importantly, prevents you or your principal from getting a frustrated call from an over-solicited business owner.

  • Setting Guidelines for How to Represent

Also, talk about how to sell the ad, and how to be polite.  You’d be surprised what kids don’t know!  Remind them to wear their spirit gear, go in groups, and be as polite as possible when out representing your organization.

Step 6: Develop a Sales Letter

The most important part of the fundraiser for us is the sales letter each student delivers to potential buyers.  You can see a copy of our letter and forms in a link at the end of this article.

Make sure you explain what winter guard is because most people don’t know.  They just think it’s another band fundraiser.  Explain what you will fund with the money raised, and how it will benefit the students/school/community.  Most importantly, tell them exactly what they get for their money.

We really push the large numbers of people who wear our shirts, and how they are a lasting reminder of their support for our program.

Occasionally you will run into someone upset that a school group is soliciting funds.  It’s important to remind everyone you are approaching that yes, your school and band do support your program.  You may even want to list some of the things the school and band do for you in your sales letter.  But also remind them, times are tough, and any money you raise through ad sales is money that doesn’t come out of the school or band budget.

Step 7: Follow Up and Say Thank You!

Finally, at the end of the season, find a nice way to say thank you!

Besides thanking the sponsors at band events, think about sending a certificate or photo of your team with their awards for the season to your higher level sponsors.  It’s a great way for them to display their support of the school in their business.

It’s possible to give students a more enriched experience in both guard and band with just a little fundraising and this is one fundraiser that has worked really well for us.

Click Here for a Copy of the Lake Hamilton Sales Letter

Click Here for a copy of the Lake Hamilton Sales Form

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Category: Fundraising/Budgets, Team Management

About the Author (Author Profile)

Sara Field is the guard program director for Lake Hamilton Public Schools, near Hot Springs, AR, overseeing the High School and Junior High fall and winter guards. Under her tenure the guard program has grown to involve over 130 performers through the fall and winter seasons. She is a graduate of Henderson State University, where she performed as a color guard member for the Showband of Arkansas. Though her performance background began with baton (hence the love of all things glitter), Sara has taught guard across Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma. Sara is an active clinician and adjudicator for numerous winter guard circuits. She is proud to have served as a staff member for the past five WGI World Championships. Sara and her husband Bryan live in Pearcy, AR, with their son Liam.

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