How to Plan Booster Club Fundraisers That Engage The Whole School

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Generally started by parents to support student activities at the high school and university level, booster clubs have a long history of raising funds to support everything from athletics to the arts. Booster club fundraisers are often vital to helping schools overcome budget cuts to purchase things like new equipment and uniforms, awards ceremonies and team dinners, and travel and lodging expenses for competitions.

While booster clubs are lucky enough to have a built-in group of fundraisers (students and their parents), the challenge for booster clubs is to create a fundraiser that everyone can be excited about. 

Today, we’re not only going to go over four types of events that can help booster clubs reach their fundraising goals, but we’re also going over four ways to make your booster club fundraisers more engaging! 

First, let’s break down four types of fundraisers that tend to work well for booster clubs:

  1. Product-based fundraisers. While there are endless types of product-based fundraisers available to booster clubs, two of the most popular are sports and school catalogs. The first type of sports catalog features pro or college team goods and is great for boosters to use to reach out to their friends and family for support. 

The second type of catalog is geared towards the school’s branding. It’s a great choice  for all students, since they can approach friends and family members that would  wear school merch with pride! 

Other great product fundraisers include candy, snacks like cookies and popcorn, coffee  mugs and other school merch, and discount cards. Companies like Fundraising Zone and ABC  Fundraising have lots of options for booster clubs to choose from. 

  1. Event-based fundraising. Fundraising events tend to take more effort and planning, but they are also one of the most fun and exciting ways booster clubs can raise money.  

Fundraising galas are upscale events planned more with booster and supporter interests  in  mind instead of students’ interests. They can be held virtually or in-person, but they tend to  feature a nice dinner, entertainment, and a fundraising auction. If you’re looking for some  unique auction  items, check out this list of 25 auction ideas to get you started! 

Award banquets are still a more formal event, but they’re geared towards the students and  celebrating their accomplishments. They are perfect for raffles since raffles have a more  student-friendly price point, and you can choose to give students free raffle tickets for each  award they win.  

Raffles can still be included in virtual events. You’ll just need to make sure to include clear  instructions for winners to pick up their prizes! 

Other fun fundraising events for booster clubs can include things like a school-sanctioned food  fight, a “Wear Your Pajamas to School Day,” and skills camps for younger athletes, artists, and  musicians. 

  1. Competitions and performance-related fundraisers. These types of fundraisers are perfect for peer-to-peer events because they create a fun sense of competition. Students keep track of some metric related to their activity for the whole season, whether that means keeping a tally of miles run or goals scored. At the end of the season, supporters who registered to support the students will pay a certain amount per goal scored, mile ran, etc. 

To make it even more fun, you can offer prizes to the top fundraising students, whether that  prize is a chance to dunk their coach or instructor at a pep rally, or a scholarship provided to the  top three fundraisers by a local business. Your student fundraisers will be more motivated  if there’s a fun prize attached! 

  1. Booster-specific fundraisers. As mentioned earlier, one of the main purposes of booster clubs is to support the needs of student activities, often financially. In this way, many booster clubs operate similarly to the board of a nonprofit. And even more similarly, not all booster club members will be familiar and comfortable with fundraising.  

That’s where having member-specific fundraisers like this Beacon of Life’s annual board  fundraiser come in handy! Having a dedicated fundraiser just for board members means that  your booster club can give clear instructions and training to help your members be successful.  Making this an annual event means that more experienced booster members (aka parents of  seniors) can make sure up-and-coming boosters (aka parents of freshmen) have the skills  necessary to become a helpful part of the booster team! 

Now, while a great fundraising idea is the best place to start, your booster club still won’t meet your goals if people don’t engage with your fundraiser. That’s why we’re now going to give you four ways to increase engagement!

The Art of Gamification 

Gamifying a fundraiser simply means that you’re adding a competitive element to your fundraiser. Even though it’s a simple step to take, it’s also one of the most important steps you can take if you want to increase engagement. 

One of the easiest ways to spark a little competition in your fundraisers is by setting up teams. This is relatively easy for most booster clubs, as both sports and band/choral groups automatically have “teams within a team.” For example, you can have “offense vs. defense” or “infield vs. outfield” for sports teams, and you can set up teams by instrument or vocal range for bands and choirs. Junior varsity vs. varsity is another popular option. 

You can also have mini-fundraisers where students can compete to win prizes based on how much they’ve raised throughout the season. For example, your first competition of the season might be a dance contest, and your second might be a free-throw competition, and so on.  

Students can either collect donations per vote, or they can have donors sponsor them for skills-based competitions. And the end of each fundraiser, students are awarded prizes based on how much they raised based on that particular event (and you can have additional prizes based on skill in the event).  

The prizes can be tickets to a special event at the end of the season or raffle tickets that they can use at the awards banquet. You can also have the students compete for awards at the awards banquet, such as scholarships for the first, second, and third place fundraisers for that season. 

No matter how you choose to gamify your event, you’ll want to make it easy for students, parents, and supporters to keep on track of progress. One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating a FundHub. You’ll be able to track progress from all of the season’s fundraisers, and your fundraisers will be able to check the leadership to see how they’re stacking up against the competition. 

You can also create fun, unique badges to display on your FundHub for top fundraisers. While these examples aren’t booster-club-related, Seattle Shakespeare Company and Holton’s Heroes do a great job of showing just how much fun can be had with these tools! 

Get Coaches and Instructors Involved

Students have a lot of respect and admiration for their coaches and instructors, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t jump at the chance for a little revenge for all those laps they’ve had to run all season! That’s why fundraisers where students are trying to win a chance to dunk their coach or shave the principal’s head do so well. And if you can host the dunk or head-shaving celebration during the middle of a pep rally, you’ll do a great job of engaging the rest of the student body too! 

You can also run other students vs. coach competitions to increase engagement. One way to do this if you have one booster club for your entire school (vs. Booster clubs for each sport) is to put students from different sports or activities on teams based on activities, and then all the teachers go on another team, and the coach team competes against the students’ teams to see who can raise the most money. 

Another format for this type of fundraiser is to host a students vs. teachers event that students donate to earn entry to. This might take the form of a water balloon fight (and students “pay” a donation per water balloon) or a fake snowball fight. Either way, everyone gets to blow off a little steam (aka: this is a great event to host right after mid-terms), and money is raised to support student activities along the way. 

Leadership Potential 

In a similar vein, students look up to their leaders, whether it’s boosters or team captains. To keep your fundraiser on track, it’s important to have “captains” for each fundraising team that can check in on progress and help motivate the team. 

While the team captains can always be boosters or other supporters, using the student leaders you have on your team has multiple benefits. It not only allows your students to practice the leadership skills they’ll need on the field now and in the workplace later, but it will also keep your fundraisers motivated.  

It’s easy to make excuses to your parents or another adult, but it’s harder to use those same excuses on your fellow student-athletes who are going through the same things you are. 

Use Fundraising Technology to Your Advantage 

There are so many simple but extremely effective ways to use fundraising technology to increase engagement. One of the easiest things you can do is incorporate social media. The first step to increasing social engagement is to make sure social sharing icons are fully visible like the Maui High Band Booster Club did for their recent fundraiser.

Social sharing icons example from Maui High Band Booster Club's fundraiser

It’s also important to ask students, supporters, and other booster club members to share the event with their social media followers.  

While some of these videos can be more serious—such as videos of coaches or team captains encouraging fundraisers and explaining why the fundraiser is important—others can be for fun. With all the great tools, trends, and filters available in Gen Z’s favorite social media platforms (which includes Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok), your content is only limited by your participants’ imaginations!  

And with Qgiv’s fundraising platform, you can also easily integrate Facebook Fundraisers, which will only grow your reach and your donations. 

Another way to increase engagement is by using … email. While email is a great way to keep parents in the loop, it’s also a great way to communicate with your fundraisers as well. After all, 58% of Gen Z users check their email multiple times a day. You can use email to send more formal updates, such as asking your teams to set a fundraising goal, or asking for progress updates. 

Our final tip for boosting engagement is with mobile technology! While the previous tidbit about Gen Z and email may have been surprising, it’s no surprise to anyone that Gen Z love their smartphones. A robust fundraising platform will include tools to help you update supporters by text for everything from event location updates to peer-to-peer progress updates. If your fundraiser includes an auction, you can also set up push notifications to let bidders know when they’ve been outbid. 

Another great aspect of text fundraising is that your booster club can set up a text-to-donate keyword that you can use throughout the season. Not only can you make sure it’s displayed at booster meetings and other fundraiser-related events, but you can also display it in prime locations during events where you’ll have access to lots of people who care about the students: home games! The concession stand and ticket booth are great places to post your text keyword and number, along with a brief, but compelling impact statement.  

Booster Club Fundraisers We Love 

Marauder Football

Marauder Football's Touchdown Club fundraising example

While football season hasn’t even started, the Marauder football team already has a great fundraiser planned called the Touchdown Club. The event will function similarly to a 5K, but supporters are making their pledge per touchdown instead of per mile run or walked. This is the type of fundraiser that supporters and players alike can get excited about: it not only supports the teams, but it gives them more motivation to win, which everybody wants!

Millersville University

Fundraiser example from Millersville University

The next booster club fundraiser we love is brought to you by the Millersville University marching band! Great uniforms certainly don’t come cheap, which is why they decided to create a special fundraising campaign just to raise money for uniforms. It’s no surprise that they were able to raise the funds for some amazing new uniforms … they had a detailed impact statement and a matching gift offer emphasized so that donors knew just how far their dollars could stretch.  

They also gave donors the chance to sponsor an entire section, which is a great pitch for alumni who may want to sponsor uniforms for the section they played in. Millersville got both the clarinet and trumpet sections covered that way! They did something similar with their men’s soccer team fundraiser by adding an exclusive 200 club for donors to join.

Phoenix Rising

Fundraiser example from Phoenix Rising

Last—but certainly not least—we have a great event called Sky Full of Stars in support of Phoenix Rising’s soccer club. While many nonprofits have switched to virtual events in light of the pandemic, Phoenix Rising has done a great job of including both virtual and in-person elements in their April of 2021 hybrid fundraiser.  

They created exclusivity by only offering 100 in-person tickets (and the in-person element will be both outdoors and socially distanced), but they’ve also planned very well for their virtual guests. They’ve even ensured that their virtual guests will get to eat the same delicious meal that their in-person attendees get.  

Final Thoughts 

From quick events to coordinated peer-to-peer fundraisers, booster clubs have so many opportunities to get creative with their fundraising. Whether you’re planning the annual fundraising gala complete with a silent auction or a product-based fundraiser, we hope the ideas above will help your great your most engaging fundraiser yet! 

If you’re looking for a fundraising platform to help take your booster club fundraisers to the next level, you can sign up for a one-on-one demo to see how Qgiv’s fundraising tools can help!

 

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