As budgets for high school sports programs continue to tighten across the country, high school athletes are being impacted — from basic equipment like uniforms, to their coaches, to where they play and how they get there. According to the most recent estimates, schools across the country slashed athletic budgets an estimated $3.5 billion from 2009-11. Ask coaches and athletic directors, and they will tell you the trend continues.
To cushion the budget shortfalls, high school sports teams are in need of alternative methods of funding. With so many fundraising companies to choose from, it's important to find the one that fulfills your needs.
- set realistic goals
- make a game plan
- map out a timeline
- keep the excitement level up
- maintain accountability
- use a company that is not local
- let fundraisers linger
- leave out the details
- offer worthless products
- hire a company that doesn’t understand your needs
In order to be successful, you absolutely need to have a goal, and it needs to be specific and measurable. If you have a goal to raise $10,000, you need to create a list of the items that you will pay for with that money. Simply saying you want to raise $10,000 is not sufficient. Is the $10,000 for a blocking sled, pitching machine, or new jerseys?
A goal without a plan is a wish. It must be simple but detailed and broken down into measurable steps. If your plan is complicated, it will not work. Importantly, don’t create the game plan in a vacuum; get key team members or champions involved to ensure buy-in and cooperation derived from having ownership in the plan.
Without a timeline, you are chasing a moving target. Tying your Game Plan to a Timeline creates a sense of urgency and excitement. As you progress through your Game Plan, everyone should be excited and even anxious about their assignment and the special and important role they will play in the team accomplishing the Goal.
Once you have your Game Plan and Timeline set, it's time to share it with everyone! This includes your coaching staff, key members of the booster club, players and yes, even your players' parents. Don’t just share all of the above, make sure you promote it.
This means you have to be noticeably excited about it and talk about it often. Possibly hold a meeting with all of the above parties to enthusiastically promote it. This makes a bold statement that you're serious about this and that will create buy in and excitement.
You've set clear goals, established a solid and collaborative game plan with clear timelines, injected it with a sense of purpose and fun, and built a system in place for keeping everyone organized and focused on driving results. Don’t forget, to be successful you must hold everyone accountable. This includes your players, your coaching staff and especially, yourself. If people aren’t meeting goals and timelines, becoming negative or not pulling their weight, call them out. Don’t let anyone slide – it will suck the life out of a great program.
With so many fundraising companies to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which one is going to help your team produce the best results. One of the most important features of a fundraising company is one that is local. Having a local fundraising coach with available to guide your team to the goal line. As a coach, it is important to be able to spend your time doing what you're good at, coaching and winning games!
If you were holding a fundraiser and could get the same or better results in one to two weeks versus 30, 60 or 90 days, which would you pick? The more time that passes during a fundraiser, the more likely the parties involved are going to become disengaged. For maximum results, we recommend running high impact fundraisers that last between seven and 14 days. Teams are often able to generate $100-$200 per player in this highly motivated environment.
As a good steward of the team’s budget, coaches should know the details. If you don’t know the specifics about your team’s fundraiser agreement, then you could be getting taken advantage of. So, make sure to ask all the important questions throughout your fundraiser, like how did we do, how do we stack up to our peers, how much money was raised and what was the profit. Whoever you choose to lead your fundraising efforts, and whatever local retailers/businesses are participating in your fundraisers should all work together with all financial components transparent and open. That’s how successful, long term relationships are created.
Even if it’s for a good cause, the likelihood of people buying tchotchkes is very low. That is why it is important to offer consumers products that are worthy of their investment. When a consumer chooses to support a local school or team's fundraiser, they should get something of value in return. Whether you're purchasing an edible or discount product, you should be happy with it. So, make sure to choose a fundraising partner that puts an extensive amount of effort into finding and developing their products.
When looking for a fundraising partner, or any consultant for that matter, do you want to do business with a group that has expertise in high school sports or would you rather go with someone who has no prior experience working in that space? You may hear from companies that claim to have universal success with a cookie cutter approach, but the reality is high school sports, and every other segment of fundraising, is very unique. So, make sure to choose a partner with experience exclusively working with sports teams. A fundraising partner with experience in high school sports understands not only the need to fundraise but the need for it to fit into a team's schedule without causing disruption.
Misperceptions about fundraising only damage the profession and the truly talented practitioners, not to mention the schools and coaches who deserve quality work. By putting some of the most important ingredients surrounding high school sports fundraising on the table, you are now armed with the insight needed to make sound, proactive decisions regarding your own fundraising initiatives.