Mission to Metrics 5: Band Boosters’ Moral & Financial Support

Pulaski’s neat rows of musical performers make me think of the massive logistical effort needed to get them to the Rose Bowl. Seasons of training. Coordination of plane flights. Sacrifices from teachers and volunteers. But that’s just what we see on the surface.

Behind the successful marching band and their strong booster club stands a solid structure: a meaningful mission and guiding bylaws. Pulaski’s bylaws emphasize cultivating “enthusiastic interest,” and lending “all possible” moral and financial support. In part five of this series, I bridge elements of the Pulaski Booster Club’s mission into tangible metrics. For more about metrics, be sure to read the introduction to this series, “Why Booster Clubs Need Metrics.”

First, skim this summary* of the Pulaski Music Boosters’ ByLaws.

 Music Booster Club Mission Statement

  1. Cultivate “enthusiastic interest” in the various phases of the Music Department.
  2. Lend all possible moral and financial support.
  3. Foster the highest degree of efficiency in cooperation with school staff in the Music Department, School Administration and the School Board.
  4. Organize parents to promote the activities of the Music Department.

Cultivate Interest

Cultivating interest in a booster club and its program is an important part of building community. It makes an activity like playing music into something more — a community project that brings people together. I discuss cultivating interest in Mission to Metrics 4, but what the Pulaski mission statement adds is the idea of promoting interest at “various phases.” What they mean is vertical phases of development in particular instruments. So, to translate their mission into metrics, they could track things like:

      • Interaction between advanced and beginning students
        • Peer mentoring
        • Peer performance attendance
      • Number of students that begin in the program
      • Number of students that advance to a higher level

Other booster clubs might also want to track horizontal phases, i.e. different components of the same club. In other words, it’s easy to get excited about flying out to see the Rose Bowl (shown in the video above), but sometimes you need to rally volunteers to other stages in a child’s development, and other sectors of the program. Band might get a lot of participants, while color guard only gets a few.

Compounding the issue of unevenness in a club is material cost. One music club I met with told me that color guard uniforms are more expensive, but that bands without color guard contingents are at a huge disadvantage in tournaments. It’s important to anticipate which segments of a program are going to need disproportionate support. By setting an intention for this in their mission statement, Pulaski’s board has pledged to monitor support across the program. It’s important, therefore, that they report all of their metrics both vertically (along skill levels) and horizontally (in different modules of the club). That way if there’s a lack of volunteers, funds, or participants in one section of the music program, they can catch it early.

Lend All Possible Moral and Financial Support

What’s really strong in this club’s bylaws is the idea of moral support. The booster club is taking it upon themselves to foster and facilitate moral support just as much as financial support. Before we get into metrics, consider the breadth of activities that might be needed to channel moral support from parents and fans.

For example, not all parents can travel all the way from Wisconsin to California for the Rose Bowl (filmed above) or Disneyland (another trip). Parents have work. Tickets are expensive. Younger children need childcare. Many barriers inhibit parents from cheering on the sidelines, especially with out-of-state performances.

Let me bring it back to metrics and objectives. With out-of-state performances, I see a challenge to the goals of promoting interest and contributing moral support. How can parents show interest or give moral support if they’re not present? A booster club like Pulaski has to track creative metrics to measure its ambitious goals. In the process of selecting metrics, they can also discover solutions. One way to look at developing metrics for the “moral support” objective of the mission statements is to look at parent involvement. For example:

      • Number of parents attending band performances
      • Out of town attendance
      • Financial assistance to parents for travel
      • Childcare provided for parents (for local events)
      • Remote opportunities for parents who cannot attend

The Pulaski Music Booster already creates remote opportunities. They collect and distribute videos of out-of-state performances, and sell them on DVDs or post them on a community website. They could take it a step further by helping parents communicate with students, such as with pre-performance video postcards or other notes of encouragement.

Lastly, I wanted to share a few more metrics related to financial support. As I said in the first post, there are some metrics of fundraising and volunteering that are key to a booster club’s health:

      • gross revenue
      • net profit
      • number of corporate sponsors
      • hours volunteered

Those are the basics. But band boosters have even more metrics of financial efficiency that they could communicate to stakeholders and use for their own internal decision making.

      • Transportation costs
      • Spending on uniforms and equipment
      • Efficiency (in cost and volunteer time) of income streams

For now, this is the final installment in my Mission to Metrics series. I hope it has given you some ideas of how to employ metrics in your own booster club. Measuring takes a bit of time at the start. You need to establish a baseline. But after as little as a semester, I think that investing that time really pays dividends.

Externally, supporters really appreciate knowing cost efficiency. If they see that their favorite fundraiser has higher overhead, they’re likely to contribute more direct donations. Internally, its really useful to know if a club has room to improve.

I’m really interested in how you use (or don’t use) metrics in your booster club. What do you track? How do you track it? How have metrics informed your decision making and strengthened your relationship with supporters?

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