OPINION: WHY THE BLUE BAND NEEDS MONEY

By LEE SHAW & CURT HARLER

     Nearly $25,000 was raised for the Blue Band on Giving Tuesday this year. The $17,000 pledged online was short of the anticipated goal; however, another $8000 was raised beyond the on-line portal so the final total was slightly lower than last year’s…not bad in a Covid year.

Still, it remains a puzzle to many ABBA members as to why the Blue Band must solicit funds for instruments or teaching materials when, for example, the chemistry department does not have its professors asking for money each time they need new beakers or test tubes.

Much of any Blue Band director’s time is devoted to fundraising. Those who see the Band as a music organization might be surprised that most of the Blue Band’s revenue comes from the Athletics Department. The College of Arts & Architecture gives the Blue Band less than 0.03% of the Blue Band’s annual operating expenses. That is not a typo. The college’s allotment barely pays for photocopying for a month. It is less than half of what alums contributed in a single day.

Along with football and basketball, the Blue Band is arguably amongst the highest-profile student organizations at Penn State. Everyone loves Blue Band performances – whether at halftime, in a parade or as a pep band.

While the Giving Tuesday donations were somewhat short of the Blue Band’s goal, the total number of contributors nearly matched hoped-for participation. Because of the way the University’s matching-fund system is set up, participation – even a donation of only $5 or $10 – counts heavily on getting matching money. Last year, the Blue Band qualified for matching funds. Since the final accounting is not complete, it is uncertain how much, if any, matching money the Blue Band will get for 2020.

Acknowledging that many people face tight budgets as a result of Covid-19, there was no major push to solicit donations. Still, ABBA members responded as they always do. Money raised on Giving Tuesday went to the LEGACY Fund Endowment, which is a major pillar (along with named scholarships and the Diversity fund recently established by Harry Burns) supporting Blue Band diversity recruitment activities and students.

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