By Alex Perdikis
One of the biggest challenges for any youth sports program is funding. Budget cuts are a fact of life for youth sports, whether it’s a school, community, city, club or country organization.
The cost to administer programs, of course, has not decreased. In fact, costs increase every year. Most teams are on their own when it comes to raising money.
If your team lacks funds, and whose doesn’t, try some of these creative ways to make money for your youth sports squad.
Try Something Different
If selling candy bars is getting old and your “market” saturated, you need to try something new. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Rent-A-Kid: Get the players involved by offering their services to members of the community for a fee. Possible services include mowing lawns, yard clean up, reading to the elderly, baby-sitting, personal car washes or any number of other needs people in the community can use.
Community Talent Show: Who wouldn’t want to buy a ticket to see their neighbors up onstage singing and dancing their way into local stardom? Talent competitions are easy to setup and, if you can get someone to donate a venue, are relatively inexpensive to organize. Winners get inexpensive prizes and the adulation of their neighbors. Talent shows are great for another reason – they bring people in the community together and encourage support for the team and league.
Create and Sell Community Cookbooks: Almost everyone has a favorite recipe. Collect recipes from members of the community, compile them into a cookbook and you have the perfect fundraiser. Everyone who contributes will want to buy the cookbook just to see their recipe and name in print! Other community members will want one, too. Cookbooks are always in demand and the local touch will make this one even more appealing.
Professional Photo Sessions: If your community has a talented professional photographer, ask him or her if they’d be willing to do photo sessions for the benefit of the team. The photographer agrees to set aside a specific time for family and individual photo sessions with a portion of the proceeds going to the team.
Sell Website Ad Space: This relatively new idea works if your team has a website with a blog. The team can raise money by selling advertising space to local shops and vendors.
Sell Stuff: Selling products is the old standby, but you don’t have to restrict yourself to candy bars and cookie dough. Here is a list of items available for fundraising you may not have thought about before:
- Pizza Kits: Kits typically contain everything the purchaser needs to make three complete pizzas.
- Custom Sports Socks: Selling socks with team colors and logos is another solid idea. Custom socks are initially a bit more costly than other fundraising products, but typically sell well enough to turn a profit.
- Trash Bags: Everyone needs them. Selling them is a breeze. Trash bags are inexpensive and come in bright, appealing colors.
- Batteries: Batteries are another product that works well as a fundraising project. Everybody buys batteries, they may as well benefit the team when they do it.
- Personalized Smartphone Cases: Customized phone cases offer a wide range of options including use of team colors, team logos, initials or pretty much whatever else you want. Everyone on the team and a lot of people in the community will want one. They make great gifts, too.
Unusual Fundraisers That Worked
Now that your creative juices are flowing, let’s look at some unusual but successful fundraisers different organizations used in the past to give you a few more out-of-the-box ideas.
Lucky Drop in Iowa: The Athletic Boosters of Keokuk came up with a novel idea that did so well they plan on making it an annual event.
The idea was to have a helicopter drop 500 numbered balls and one red ball from the air over a field. Contest winners would be six people who had tickets with numbers corresponding to the balls closest to the red ball and prizes to nine people whose ticket numbers corresponded with the farthest.
An aerial photographer agreed to donate his helicopter services, charging only for his travel expenses. The event was planned to coincide with game day to ensure a good-sized crowd. Event organizers, coaches and players sold tickets and teachers shared contest information with people on their email lists. The first Lucky Drop raised $1,700 and promoters plan to promote it more heavily next time.
Cleaning Up the Mess: Someone has to do it so it may as well go to a worthy cause. What is it? Cleaning the stands after the Indianapolis 500. Covenant Christian High School in Indianapolis works hard to clean stand sections and raises about $7,000 for the team after the big race each year. The speedway needs the service and the team needs the money. It’s a win/win.
Fundraising is not an option, it’s a necessity. Fortunately, there are countless ways to raise money for youth sports teams. Look outside the box for fundraising ideas. It’s possible to raise money and have some fun at the same time.