In reality, fundraising really doesn't cost anything, in that the funds raised represent net new revenue in exchange for effort or work on your part. But we can consider costs as a catch-all topic when considering the potential value of a fundraising campaign.
Band fundraisers (or fundraisers for any performing ensemble, for that matter) take on many forms, however for the most part we'll consider the 'costs' of fundraisers on the following criteria:
- Percentage of proceeds kept (or profit)
- Time spent planning, managing, cleaning-up, etc
- Up-front costs, deposits, etc
Percentage of Proceeds Kept (Profit)
This number can range widely, but normally if you are selling someone else's product (pizzas, mattresses, cookies, candy, flowers, etc) the profitability instantly drops significantly. Considering the other factors, like quality and marketability of the product, support from the vendor, and convenience is key. If your organization keeps only 30% of the sale proceeds but the campaign is super easy from start to finish and earns your organization $10K - it's probably worth it.
Once in a while, something comes along (like FansRaise, for instance) that enables your organization to keep 85% of your profits. You ought to look into it. :-)
Time Spent Planning/Managing/Cleaning-Up
Do not overlook the fact that time spent in and around your campaign has a monetary value. There are no "professional band boosters", and just about all of us have other commitments like family, jobs, etc.
Having an event-based fundraiser? You might need to figure in costs for facility rental, or possibly custodial help. Need to rent a truck to move product? These costs can be hidden, but need to be considered.
Up-Front Costs, Deposits
Any fundraiser that requires an up-front outlay of cash represents RISK. If your event is rained out, or impacted by weather or other uncontrollable factors - your org is on the hook.
Sometimes the gamble is worth the risk, but band fundraisers that require a deposit to pre-order is risky.
Everything considered, crowdfunding wins many of these side-by-side comparisons. High margin, easy to set up and manage, and no up-front costs make it a winning formula.
All fundraisers woudl benefit by having an injection of FUN and student involvement. Read this post for more detail around how to make fundraising a game.