Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Goodbye, Bake Sales

I came upon this article and had to share it. This is one of the most creative approaches to fundraising I have ever heard of. The Boise High School Orchestra was getting frustrated with traditional methods of fundraising, so they took fundraising to the next level. The parents of the group came up with the “Tiny House Tour” idea. The idea behind the fundraiser is to give tours of the small, quaint, and tiny houses in the Boise area. The group was only expecting about 100 individuals to attend, but the orchestra was able to pay for their whole trip to Spain with the over 350 people that appeared. The orchestra continues to use this as their main method of fundraising and has sparked a nationwide movement on tiny house blogs and even a reality TV show.

I wish the article focused more on the fundraising from the students perspectives. It seems that a lot of the initiative was driven by the parents, so how were the students actually participating? I assume that they were the ones giving tours, but were they involved in the planning stages? I love the idea behind this fundraiser and hope that the students had a big role in the whole process. New and creative innovations in fundraising are effective tools to get the community truly involved. What are some creative fundraising methods you can think of that students could use to raise money? Are old, traditional methods like bake sales useful tools for extended and prolonged community engagement?


8 comments on “Goodbye, Bake Sales

  1. cayleycarroll
    October 16, 2014

    What a kooky fundraiser and a great opportunity for those orchestra kids to be a part of something unique. Growing up, I did a bunch of the usual fundraisers: girl scout cookies, citrus and christmas ornament sales door-to-door and outside of the grocery store. To be honest, I always hated selling this stuff because it was embarrassing. I remember feeling bad for trying to hock this junk to my neighbors so I was very reluctant to do so. I think being proud of your product AND the cause it supports are vital for optimal fundraising.

  2. shrulala
    October 16, 2014

    There are lot of new student fundraisers like selling reusable bags, or non food items. Food has become passé and its all about the experience economy right?

  3. alexgilbertschrag
    October 17, 2014

    I think this is a great example of learning how to fundraise differently! I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been to a gala for an arts organization that wasn’t almost the same as the last. They always show the pictures and videos of kids who come there for classes, they talk about different awards they’ve received, and they always, somehow, ask for money. They’re quite similar to how they always raise money. But I wonder, if they took a different approach, if there would be more incentive to donate money. Perhaps using this model of thinking outside the box could benefit arts organizations. Although maybe we won’t start giving tours of tiny houses, but having fundraisers where folks get to interact more with the art form, such as giving them a chance to stand and conduct, might be a new fundraising strategy!

  4. yaoge2016
    October 17, 2014

    This is the most exciting fundraising idea that I’ve ever heard! From my perspective, buying something handmade like cookies and Christmas ornaments which apparently aren’t worth your money is not sustainable. You may try once, but most of the time, you are just spectator. However, an unique experience like tiny house tour cannot be evaluated by money, and the perceived value of it differs individually, so donors are willing to pay for the value without considering that as a behaviour of sympathy or sacrifice, and they are eager to share their experience with their friends, which surely can attracts more attention.

  5. qfloyd
    October 17, 2014

    I’m confused. So people are spending money on tours of older homes that are small? Even though I agree with the objective of raising money for the orchestra, I feel as though the means of getting the money is through an elitist mindset. There are people who live in small apartments as a means a daily life because the cannot afford more. That doesn’t mean that their home should be an exhibit. Although it did raise money for a great benefit, it does seem to be a weird culture of the glorification of those who are capable to afford a larger home. I might be thinking too much into it.

  6. gaochang619
    October 17, 2014

    Thank you for your post Sara! Fundraising is kind of mystery in my view, because I cannot imagine how organizations could ask others for money in an artistic way. Come on, you are arts organizations! This article provided a great example and I would like to think it more in visual arts area. Instead of selling baking stuff, I believe we could do something like the tiny houses tour to engage people in your art, such as engage them in arts creating process by themselves or cooperate with artists.

  7. jessicamallow
    October 17, 2014

    This is a great example of an organization or group of people thinking outside the box to create a solution for a need at hand. I would be interested to know if they change the houses they use from year to year, and if it has the ability to grow over time with its success. It’s inventive and fun, and capitalizes on the history of that community as well as the curiosity of those in it. Raising money can be a challenge, but it seems that they’ve properly engaged a new group of interested patrons and in support of a great cause.

  8. laurenelizabethdickel
    October 19, 2014

    I remember long days selling cookie dough outside of a safeway for choir and orchestra fundraisers in highschool. They were not fun and also not very productive! I loved this idea . Creativity really can be astonishing and provide such wonderful results. Fundraising is indeed very tricky, and this was such an interesting new ‘out side of the box’ way to raise money. It sounded like the people who even live in these houses were excited to show them off! I wonder if the house owners gained anything from all the publicity…

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