With programs struggling to support their basic needs, fundraising becomes the first topic at team meetings. It takes more than rummage sales and car washes to make up the difference to help parents pay for the cheer activities their kids want to participate in. The amounts parents have to raise varies: are you raising funds to just pay for athletic gear, or are you trying to raise funds to compete out of state? Often times, teams and coaches have to make sacrifices. And, as coaches, we usually pick the ‘easy ‘ fundraisers, yet those fundraisers do not yield high profits. We choose the fundraisers to just get them done; they become time-consuming as a result. Ask any coach–fundraising is the quickest way to burnout. Bottom line, it’s time to rethink fundraising, and get creative. To help ensure your fundraisers are successful, here are some things to consider when planning out fundraising events.

Purpose/goal. Before doing anything else, you must decide what the purpose or goal is. Is your fundraiser set for individual athletes or team needs? What is the amount needed? These areas are all common and basic, but there is another purpose to consider when planning fundraising events: gaining publicity, or reaching out to a new network. Many events have more than one goal. Figuring out the details for your event will depend on knowing what goals you are trying to achieve. So, what is your financial goal? How much money are you trying to raise? The amount you choose should be what you hope to net–that is, the amount you plan to raise after expenses are deducted. Look for profit margins that balance out the amount of work that has to be done.

Volunteers/profit. Having the right people helping with your fundraiser can make or break the event. Not only will your helpers actually be running your event, but are integral to ensuring that you reach your fundraising goals. Do not be afraid to ask for help, as well as accepting help. With that out of the way, there really is only one thing that can make or break the success of your event–what to sell. What will be the product that sends your event into the rafters? Selling candy in a neighborhood that is surrounded by schools might not be successful or profitable, as there probably are half a dozen programs doing the same thing. Look at your geographical area to figure out what will work for you. Selling discount cards will not work in outlying rural areas as they would in the inner city. If you are going to use online funding groups, make sure you do your research on how much they keep, as in hidden costs. Once you find the perfect product for your program, it is time to start setting up your event.

Marketing. After all your planning and research to host the ‘perfect’ fundraising event, without good marketing, all that work would be for nothing. Getting the word out about your event is what will make your event a success. You need to convince your supporters that your event is worthy of their time and money. Draw up a marketing plan for the event, or how you are to go about ‘getting the word out’. You do not want to advertise too early, or too late. On average, 2-3 weeks advance marketing is a good rule of thumb; just make sure that you are updating or changing out any advertising as you go.

Saying thank you. 
Often, one of the most heard complaints from fundraising contributors is, “They never even said ‘thank-you.’” Ditto for your volunteers. Make sure to take the time to send thank you notes to everyone who was involved in your event. Keep your donors happy… you’re probably going to be asking them for another donation sometime down the road! I’ve talked with coaches from all over the U.S.–representing programs in rural areas with absolutely zero funding, to ones who coach inner city programs that are funded, but still have little resources–and there is one common statement that I have heard over and over again. What is it, you ask? “I have run out of creative ideas for fundraisers,” or, “I need a fundraiser that no one has done before.” I have done it all… selling products to candy to discount books, I have found there to be more work than reward. Running car washes, I have found that the kids like these more than the coaches or parents. These types of fundraisers can be good team events, but small reward for individuals.

Let me share some fundraising ideas to spark some creativity in you as you choose your next fundraising event:

Reserved parking spaces. 
Selling parking spaces for football games works great for most parents! Make signs with the sponsors’ name on them, and putting them up before game time will make fundraiser participants happy they donated. Now, obviously, you will want to work with your athletic department and get permission to do so. But, what a great thing for anyone to have their own space to park in…

Rent an athlete. This can be a tricky one, but can often result in additional donations. Rent out your athletes to do odd jobs for donors, just make sure you set standards of what they will and will not do ahead of time.

Local marathons. By far one of the easiest events to do, with little work and a good return, is participating in local marathons. Connect with companies that host marathons, and often times, they pay volunteers to work their events. Or, host your own!

Jamba Juice. This is a great fundraiser for schools, and you make 50% profit! Jamba Juice helps teams and schools reach their fundraising goals. What’s even better about this option is that smoothies meet school nutrition standards, and let’ be honest, kids love them…

Get creative, ask for help, plan out your event, but most of all, make it fun for your athletes and families!

Do you have other fundraising ideas? Let us know what worked for your team in the comments!