Before promoting itself and garnering community support, booster club management needs to identify how the funds it raises will be used and understand what typical items booster clubs pay for. Booster club support is primarily intended for student organizations, with a slight designated portion of revenue being reserved for booster club expenses, including operational costs and supplies. Some clubs are set up district-wide and oversee everything in a district, while others might be organized to specifically manage donations for a substantial project. Ultimately, the superintendent and/or school principal has final authority in matters of what a booster club can purchase. It is important for the club to understand the culture of the school and policies to ensure the organization complies with district regulations.
The ways booster clubs support activities depends on how the sponsored extracurricular is categorized as each allows varying types of expenses to be covered. Generally, there are three main categories of booster clubs:
- Athletic booster clubs
- Music/Band booster clubs
- Academic booster clubs
While there are always outliers, a majority of booster clubs commonly have a range they operate with depending on the category. A good rule of thumb when determining which items booster clubs pay for is to remember that booster club support is intended to supplement, not to serve in lieu of the district’s fiscal obligations.
Athletic Items Booster Clubs Pay For
When a school’s budget is reduced, sports are often defunded to compensate for the deficit, leading to a chain reaction through a decrease in equipment, etc. Athletic booster clubs support the program monetarily by providing additional funding for coaches and staff to administer, as approved by the head coach and director of athletics.
Booster club fundraising gives students a competitive advantage compared to the competition. Athletic items booster clubs pay for include recommended equipment, pre-game and post-game meals, transportation costs, and other general team necessities.
The ways booster clubs support activities is through donating money or merchandise directly to the school with prior administrative approval. Donations finance the costs for meals and transportation, however, it is typically prohibited for individuals to pay for these costs directly.
In addition to performance-enhancing supplies (equipment, weights, etc.), athletic booster clubs can help encourage team morale through small tokens of recognition, including symbolic gifts or inexpensive branded items if approved by the school.
In general, there are more restrictions for athletic booster clubs that differ from those for academics and music as they must often follow an athletic amateur rule determined by the district. However, it is important to note that there may be some overlap between similar expenses as there are interdisciplinary components to each extracurricular.
Music/Band Items Booster Clubs Pay For
Similar to athletics, band booster clubs are the driving force behind improving program support achieved through booster club fundraising. The difference arises when considering the items booster clubs pay for, as they are more flexible and do not have to abide by an amateur rule.
There are various ways booster clubs support activities, such as district sanctioned educational field trips for training and/or performances, regulated scholarships for private lessons, and other department requests. Band booster clubs may also fund supportive performance ventures transportation and insurance costs for various off-campus music-related activities for school teams as long as it is coordinated in advance with the local school district.
In an effort to encourage attendance, booster club management can elect to pay for expenses inquired from promotions including, but not limited to, marketing collateral, equipment rentals, and event insurance. Like athletics, parents may donate either general funds or tangible gifts in kind to the school as approved by the Music Director or Principal/Principal’s designee.
The general guidelines to follow are to ensure the purpose remains educational and not recreational or a special award as those violate most school policies. Purchase policies for band booster clubs often overlap with the academic items booster clubs pay for.
Academic Items Booster Clubs Pay For
For parents with children not involved in sports or music programs, there are also academic booster clubs to join and support. Academic booster club support encapsulates most school activities including, speech and debate, arts, and journalism to name a few. It is up to booster club management to determine whether it is best to set up the organization as a collective booster club or if each activity should have a respective club. Both come with their own set of pros and cons and should ultimately be determined by the amount of community support.
Academic items booster clubs pay for include the charges of holding an annual banquet for each team per program, the costs of supporting equipment, and the costs of providing liability or bond coverage. Booster club fundraising may also sponsor transportation and travel expenses for academic competitions, educational trips, and conventions. Academic booster club support must follow the educational policy and must not be solely recreational.
Across the board, there is a great need for academic booster clubs. Parents may find they have the best success from families as they often attend the competitions and other events where the students showcase their expertise. Clubs should also reach out to donors who specialize in the program’s initiative.
There are various ways booster clubs support activities within their respective categories: athletics, band, and academics. While the booster may internally regulate the funds used for booster club expenses, the remaining for programmatic support must consult the school administration and district policy. Generally, the items booster clubs pay for must serve a performance or educational purpose to be permitted, but this will vary per campus. Booster clubs must identify their program’s intended need to be effective in fundraising from the community.