Band fundraising has become such a critical part of high school life as school budgets and programs feel the axe of budget cuts. Now, band fundraisers are the only way many of the musical programs stay in existence.

The good news is the large variety of school band fund raiser ideas available. In fact, attend any band trade show and, besides instruments and sheet music, you will find more band fundraising companies than any other type of exhibitor.

So, how do you choose the right marching band fundraiser? You ask lots of questions and then choose the best option for you. Here are some great questions to ask a band fundraiser company:

? Do you have special programs for a school wide band fund raiser? Many companies will make concessions to larger schools where all band members agree to participate in the fundraiser. A band fundraiser in DFW was able to negotiate a free incentive program when booking its event.

? Do you have band fundraising ideas that do not require any cash up front? Ask what type of brochure sales they offer and whether they provide a free band fundraising letter for members to use during the sale.

? When do you need to pay for other types of band fund raisers such as candy or other direct sale items?

? Do they accept purchase orders from public schools so you can get extended payment terms?

? What do you suggest as a fundraiser for bands? What kind of results have other bands had with that type of fundraiser? Can you give me references of other bands who have worked with you?

If you decide on candy for your band fundraiser, we suggest you stick with name brands like Hershey?s or M&M?s for brand recognition. If your school will allow band members to sell on school property, high school students will be happy to support the band by purchasing candy bars after lunch. The better known the brand the less salesmanship and hype necessary.

If you prefer a pre sell or brochure sale, we suggest two different possibilities. Depending on the time of year, people report terrific success selling cookie dough or gift catalogs for their band fundraiser. Both sales require no money up front and no commitment to inventory. You pre sell using order forms and collect your money when selling. At the end of your sale you place your bulk order with the band fundraising company and then distribute the merchandise to your customers.

A third wonderful band fundraising product is pizza cards. You can choose between a few different programs. Your choice will depend on the number of cards you feel like you can sell and how personalized you would like the cards to be. Typically band members can sell 10 cards per member. The cards offer up to 90 percent profit on the $10 sale, so this might be the best band fundraising idea of all.