4 Unique Strategies to Level Up Your Team’s Fundraisers
Sports teams, performing arts groups, and other youth programs often struggle to operate on the funds allocated by schools or the government alone. To fill in the gaps and cover program costs, these organizations need to fundraise throughout the year.
While there are dozens of blogs, websites, and books dedicated to giving fundraising advice, this guidance is often tailored to nonprofit organizations. Much of this information can apply to school or team fundraising as well, but team fundraising does have some unique characteristics that aren’t always addressed in these guides (or by traditional fundraising software).
In this guide, we’ll walk through four unique fundraising strategies and ideas to optimize your team’s next fundraising campaign:
- Use team fundraising software.
- Launch a pledge fundraiser.
- Leverage your built-in support system.
- Lean into a theme.
As a coach or member of a team booster club, you know how frustrating it can be to fundraise without the proper tools. For example, tracking donations in a spreadsheet or collecting cash and checks can quickly become a gargantuan task that eats up hours of time. To get started, we’ll cover why your team should use fundraising software built especially for group fundraising.
1. Use team fundraising software.
Not all fundraising software is designed for the same tasks or users. Some are for nonprofit fundraising, for example, and likely won’t have the specific tools you need. Additionally, they are often more expensive and more complicated to use. Even if you already have a fundraising tool that your team has used before, it’s worth reevaluating the features offered and the cost of using it.
According to 99Pledges’ guide, your team should consider switching to a different tool if you are working with a service that takes a percentage of the funds raised. The guide also highlights some key features to look for in your software:
- Easy-to-use donation pages. Your fundraising software should allow you to have two types of donation pages: a general, teamwide page and individual pages for each team member. Ideally, the software provider should set up these pages for you. Most importantly, the pages should accept online donations from all major payment methods so your supporters can contribute at any time, from anywhere.
- Data tracking. Look for a tool with a built-in reporting system so you can quickly check on the progress of your fundraiser. See how close you are to your goals and adjust your strategy accordingly. To motivate participants to fundraise, consider creating a leaderboard and offering prizes to those who reach a certain goal or place within the top five fundraisers.
- Automated messaging capabilities. Marketing your campaign and communicating with donors is one of the most time-consuming, difficult parts of any fundraiser. By choosing a tool that can automate most of these interactions, you’ll save hours of time. For example, you can set up automated donation receipts and thank-you messages that are sent to each donor when they make a gift.
You can use your team fundraising solution seamlessly alongside your next sports team fundraiser, whether it’s a basketball tournament or soccer training camp. And if you’re feeling unsure about a software solution, reach out to the provider to schedule a demo or call to go over any questions you may have.
2. Launch a pledge fundraiser.
It’s important to get creative and choose fundraising ideas that appeal to your participants and supporters. But don’t forget to get creative with your fundraising method and tailor it to your group’s unique needs and goals.
Instead of a catalog fundraiser or door-to-door selling, follow more modern fundraising advice and incorporate the pledge fundraising model into your next campaign. During a pledge fundraiser, supporters pledge a certain amount of money before the event occurs and pay it after the campaign ends. Typically, the pledge is based on some kind of unit of distance or time (depending on the fundraising idea you choose).
Here is an example of the pledge model works:
- You plan a fun run fundraiser for the tennis team you coach.
- You set up a teamwide donation page as well as individual pages and promote the fundraiser online.
- Your players (the participants in the fundraiser) collect pledged donations to their individual donation pages from friends and family. Each donor pledges to donate $10 per mile the player runs.
- Your players compete in the fun run, each wearing fitness devices that track their distance. At the end of the run, you record each participant’s total distance.
- Sally, one of the participants, runs five miles. For each supporter that pledged $10 per mile run to Sally, your team will receive $50.
- Once the miles run are reported for each participant, their supporters make their final donations. Then, your team receives the funds!
Keep in mind that because your team receives payment after the fundraiser, you may need to send payment reminders to supporters. Your team fundraising software can assist with this by sending out automated messages.
3. Leverage your built-in support system.
As a sports team, you already have a dedicated group of fans who cheer you on during games and competitions. And by purchasing tickets to these events, they’ve already shown that they are willing to support your team financially.
Try out these fundraising ideas to nudge your supporters to support the team even more:
- Sell branded merchandise. Offer merchandise at games or other events that your team would be present at anyway. If your team has a website or page on the school website, feature merchandise there as well. To appeal to your audience’s fear of missing out, create merchandise that is exclusive to a single year, season, or even game. For example, you might create t-shirts for homecoming or a big rivalry game against another local team.
- Host fundraisers during sporting events. Consider weaving a smaller fundraiser into a major, high-attendance event. If you direct a marching band, for example, you could sell shout-outs that are read by the announcer. Then, parents can publicly recognize their child during the event and contribute to your group.
- Plan spirit nights at local restaurants. Spirit or percentage nights offer an affordable, easy way to passively fundraise. Simply reach out to a local restaurant or other business and ask if they would be willing to share a percentage of their profits from a specific night of service. Then, promote the date ahead of time and urge your team and supporters to attend that night and make purchases to benefit the team.
For your most dedicated fans and donors, consider giving them free gifts that represent your team. According to Kwala’s guide to donor gifts, there are three main types of gifts you could give donors: practical gifts, custom gifts, and meaningful or sentimental gifts. Base these gifts on your donors’ preferences. If they would prefer a more practical gift, give them a Starbucks gift card. On the other hand, if they are dedicated, sentimental fans, they might be happiest with the football your team played with when it won the state championship.
4. Lean into a theme.
Incorporate aspects of your team’s sport into the fundraiser’s branding whenever possible. Your supporters are already fans of the sport, and there are so many creative sports fundraising ideas out there to choose from. A theme will also help your team make the campaign feel cohesive without you needing to put in much effort or create new branding just for the campaign.
Some sports-themed ideas for your team to try include:
- A hit-a-thon, kick-a-thon, or shoot-a-thon
- Field day or sports tournament
- Auction with sports-themed prizes
- Exercise classes
- Sports lessons or coaching
In addition to appealing to your supporters, a sports-themed campaign can also appeal to your team members and other contributors. Team members will be excited to show off their skills during a fundraiser like a basketball tournament or pass along advice and techniques to younger players during a charity sports camp. These ideas will also help you engage volunteers in the creative process of the fundraiser since they’ll already have background knowledge on the sport—they might have some great ideas for how to infuse aspects of the sport into the campaign!
In the internet age, it can be difficult to compete with everything else that grabs your supporters’ attention, from ads to posts from friends and influencers to other fundraising campaigns. To make your team’s campaign stand out (and help you find your ideal audience of supporters), capitalize on the quirks of team fundraising to make your voice heard and garner the support you need.