Note 6/26/20: Many youth sports leagues are delaying practices and games as a result of COVID-19. A good number of these fundraising ideas can easily be converted into virtual events, such as award ceremonies via livestream, updates, selling merch in an online store, and even selling digital gift cards to local restaurants instead of hosting a fundraiser at a restaurant.
With the fall season approaching, it’s time to start crafting your youth organization’s fundraising strategy for the year. Fundraising isn’t easy! And it’s even more difficult when everyone in your organization is a volunteer, so it’s important to be prepared! How is your youth sports organization supposed to raise enough money to keep everything afloat? Critical funds can be raised through registration. That’s what keeps the lights on. But what about new equipment? Or upgrading your facilities? Fundraising is the best way to raise additional funds needed to support the other aspects of your organization.
If your organization participates in fall and spring seasons, most of these youth sports fundraising ideas can be applied year-round. But for those that just participate in a single season, we’ll break the ideas into regular and off-season.
Regular Season Fundraising Ideas
The regular season is when parents are most involved with your organization, and it’s important to engage them when you have their attention. Make sure your organization is effectively communicating with everyone involved with your organization. That means using social media, email, and team apps to help get the word out! Below is a list of regular season ideas ranked from easiest to most involved.
Send weekly game updates
Sending a weekly email update after games is a great way to keep parents engaged. Your organization can include game highlights, MVP of the game, and include a message from the coaches. It’s highly recommended to include team sponsors, ongoing or upcoming fundraisers or events, and a link to your online donation form!
Sell branded merchandise
Arguably one of the best fundraisers for a sports team, selling branded merchandise is a great way to raise money! Parents, kids, and volunteers love to buy merchandise to show their support for your organization. T-shirts, shoes, backpacks, cups, sunglasses, and key chains are just a few items your organization can sell! Places like Red Team Sports allow organizations to setup a team fundraising store, custom print apparel, and much more!
Host fundraisers at a restaurant
Hosting a fundraiser at a restaurant is a great way to get the team together to bond and raise money! Partner with a local restaurant and take a percentage of the sales that night. This is something you’ll want to do before things get too crazy with practice and games. Otherwise, parents will be too busy to attend your fundraiser.
Family days are great events for introducing parents to other parents and building rapport with the coaches. You can feature the merchandise you’re selling, play games, and raffle off items! This is a perfect event to host before the regular season or on a bye week!
Have players ask parents, teachers, or coaches to play against them in a scrimmage game! Each kid would be responsible for getting a sponsor and have the sponsors commit a certain amount of money based on the outcome of the game! For example, a sponsor will pay $5 for each point scored or something to that effect!
Sponsorships are a great way for businesses in the local community to show support for the development of youth through sports. It’s important to provide incentives for sponsors to show how they will benefit from supporting your organization. In general, you’ll want to include their logo on your website and game banner, make an announcement on social media, and thank your sponsors at home games. Learn how to secure business sponsorships!
Sell vendor space at games
Selling vendor space at games is another great way to raise money! If you have a concession stand, you can rent out the space to a restaurant or ask restaurants to donate food items or drinks. If you don’t have a concession stand, create a dedicated area for vendors to set up and sell food and drinks at the game!
Off-season fundraising ideas
The off-season is typically when everyone forgets that your organization exists—until registration is open again of course! To keep parents and kids engaged, offer a reason for them to come out and support your organization!
Host an award ceremony at the end of the season after playoffs and championships. Here you can give out awards for MVP, most improved player, biggest heart… the possibilities are endless! Something important here is to recognize players and families that have been active in your organization for multiple years. In addition to the awards, host a small auction and raffle! Check out these Auction Item Ideas!
“State of the Union” address
People like to see the impact they are having and a personalized note from the President goes a long way. Use this opportunity to thank everyone (parents, players, volunteers, sponsors) and highlight some key moments from the year. Youth sports are about more than the games played or the win/lose record. It’s about the development of the youth in the community, and this is a perfect platform to highlight that growth.
Include notes about the kids moving up to high school, talk about next year’s teams, accomplishments within the organization (i.e. upgraded concession stands), etc. One important thing to address is what’s next. What projects/upgrades do you hope to complete next year? Do you plan on offering anything new next year? This gives the returning parents and sponsors perspective and shows your organization is moving forward!
Team up with local high school coaches or development coaches to offer a 1- or 2-day training camp! To increase attendance, make the registration fee affordable (or ask parents to make donations) and offer it to everyone in your local area, not just your team!
Host a tournament
Tournaments require a ton of planning and coordination to pull off, but they bring in substantial funds if done right. It’s best to limit the total number of games to 3 or 4 (depending on the number of registered teams) and make it double elimination (meaning teams have to lose twice to be knocked out). If you want teams from out of county or state to join the tournament, you’ll want to limit the tournament to 3 consecutive days (day 1 and 2 are normal games, day 3 is championships).
Youth Sports Fundraising Best Practices
Use email, social media, and team apps to communicate
Communication is key to an effective fundraising strategy. Parents need to know what’s going on to be involved. Team moms and dads can help with this. They are more than happy to send an email or send messages to other parents reminding them of fundraisers.
Storytelling for youth sports fundraising
As mentioned before, youth sports aren’t about winning and losing. It’s about the impact you have on the youth community. Youth sports provide community (i.e. friendships), discipline, and an engaging activity where kids can be themselves and have fun. Show the impact you have in each of these areas and parents, players, and sponsors will want to be part of your organization. Download the Nonprofit Storytelling eBook to learn more!
Don’t overwhelm parents and players with events
Parents, volunteers, and players are all busy, and too many events will lead to low attendance rates. The easier it is for parents, the more likely it is they’ll attend. Host most of your events before or after the season. If you host an event during the season, make it during normal practice days and times. Additionally, to increase attendance rates, make the event engaging and fun! Games, raffles, competitions, and talent shows are great ways to get everyone involved!
Use online fundraising tools
Fundraising tools make it easier for organizations to collect donations and registration fees from parents, volunteers, and sponsors online. With tracking tools, your organization will see who has registered or donated and the total amount they contributed. Additionally, some software platforms offer peer-to-peer fundraising and silent auction software to help you raise more money! Qgiv has a full suite of fundraising products to help your organization raise more money!
Your organization performs important work in the development of your local community. Hopefully, some of these ideas have sparked your creative juices and you’re prepared for the fall season!