Fundraising can be hard work! What works best when fundraising for your youth sports league or organization.
With youth sports more costly and time-consuming than ever, there are no shortages of fundraising activities going on throughout Canada and the United States to support our kids’ participation in all manner of activity: minor hockey, soccer, golf, curling, alpine and nordic skiing, you name it!
As a result, you’ll be asked to support everything from car washes to lotteries and auctions to skip-and walk-a-thons. Or, chances are you’ll be asked to purchase chocolate bars, calendars, and coffee beans to help teams raise the funds they need to be competitive.
For many families, fundraising is what allows their son or daughter to participate.
But how do you do it right? How do you encourage people involved so the burden isn’t falling to the same few active parents? What methods – and tools – are the most effective and raise the most funds fast?
Get started early
One of the most common reasons youth sports fundraisers fail is because they’ve been thrown together too late, last minute, and far too quickly and haphazardly.
At the first parent’s meeting or the AGM, before the season even begins, is when the plans have to be put in motion. Parents have to be informed, prepared that there’s an expectation of participation, and intentions have to be known, including timeline, strategy, tools, and goals.
To try to get started once the season is underway is difficult as weekends are spoken for, parents begin to get overwhelmed with the demand of the season and their lives in general, and it’s harder to rally support.
Get a jump early on so it can go on the calendar and everyone has the lead time to make the effort necessary to make whichever means of fundraising you choose successful.
Prepare and state your case to encourage participation
When appealing for support and participation it’s so important that you’re able to articulate clearly what’s in it for the team and the parents. You need to be able to show volunteers and parents why the programs are beneficial.
People’s time is valuable to them and unless you can prove inherent value to them, it will be hard to enlist help, particularly enthusiastic and positive help! Explain the potential increase in expenses without a vital injection of funds raised; Identify clearly what the youth sports team, club, or organization might have to go without if the necessary money isn’t raised through fundraising and parents’ support.
Let everyone know what the costs of keeping the club or organization going really are. Make the compromises or sacrifices tangible and easy to see because until people see the hard numbers, they may not be clear as to why fundraising, and their time and energy, is so important.
Grow a thick skin!
As any organizer knows, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page and in agreement. There’s always going to be a parent – or two, or three! – who don’t agree with how things are being organized or implemented.
Prepare yourself for a dozen other people who think they know better. Inevitably, you as an organizer is going to be subject to criticism.
In addition to a thick skin, it will be important to enlist an effective communicator (who also has a thick skin!) to help explain decisions to the parent group. And to be able to withstand shall we say exuberant feedback and possibly opposition.
Understand your target donor audience
Whether you choose to sell a product, conduct a car-wash, gather a collection of incredible prizes for silent auction, it’s important to understand the best method for your customer base. Make it something you know your community of potential donors will be interested in.
As in business, understanding your target audience will mean the difference between success and failure.
Switch it up and keep it fresh
Don’t be afraid to be creative! People like something new and fresh.
But, being original doesn’t mean you abandon previous fundraising methods that are proven. If it works, stick with it, but don’t be afraid to try new methods if they could better benefit the organization. A mix of novelty with something that’s tried and true is a great way to offer diversity and freshness while still holding on to an approach you know works.
The more established your fundraising efforts – consistency from campaign to campaign, year to year – the more trust, perhaps even anticipation you’ll enjoy from prospective donors. Adding a little zing will simply keep them intrigued and likely even earn you better results.
Keep. It. Simple. Silly!
Rule of thumb is to plan only one or two larger campaigns per year rather than several small ones. 1. Parents will be prone to fundraising exhaustion; 2. So will your target! And, as many fundraisers rely on appealing to friends and family for donations, too many events asking for them to purchase or donate money can actually become annoying.
Planning a select one or two larger fundraisers per year avoids fundraising overload for everyone involved, ultimately making them more profitable.
Don’t get too ambitious as you approach your campaign. Selling a product? Choose one high quality, popular product that you know will provide purchaser satisfaction as well as great fundraising results. Opting for a fun comedy night? Keep it to the performance alone – don’t overwhelm busy parent volunteers with a full-on dinner theatre!
Delegate – seek help!
The fact is, a campaign is only as strong as its team. No one, even you as Organizer Extraordinaire, can’t do everything on your own. The best way to ensure your fundraising success is to find a reliable helper to help carry some of the load. Not to mention help provide feedback, ideas, and even simply a valuable sounding board.
Finding a few people to whom you can delegate tasks, particularly if they’re well-suited, is ideal. For instance, task an accountant-parent with keeping track of finances; blogger-mom with communications; a tech-savvy parent with managing the website and associated technology tools.
The old adage, ‘many hands make light work’ is absolutely true when it comes to volunteer work and fundraising. The more people involved, the easier, and likely more profitable, the entire project will be. So don’t be afraid to ask!
Regardless of the type of campaign you choose, or how satisfying you ultimately find it, fundraising is a challenging undertaking.
Contact us to see how Fundables can help ease some of the volunteer burdens for you and your team!