Athletic teams around the country rely on fundraisers to pay for their equipment, uniforms, pre-season trips, and more. But too often, these fundraisers fall short of their goals due to a lack of strategic planning and execution. If you’re part of this group and you are looking to increase your athletic-fundraiser sales and effectiveness, consider these five strategies:
Begin With A Plan
In essence, fundraising at any level is a marketing effort. And as any professional marketer will tell you, every successful marketing effort must begin with a clearly defined plan of action. Start by defining your audience, setting measurable goals, and drawing up what the benchmarks of success will look like.
As the athletic director, you have a lot on your plate already. When you add in the myriad responsibilities of leading and organizing a fundraiser, it can seem overwhelming. A comprehensive fundraising plan will streamline your efforts and allow you to allocate the appropriate of time to fundraising and the rest of your time to make your students athletic activities the best they can be.
Choose Your Athletic Fundraiser Wisely
There are a lot of fundraising options available to athletic teams these days. Your responsibility is to choose the one that will be easiest for your kids to participate in, and that will bring in the most funds.
With the plethora of options out there, be cautious about choosing a fundraiser simply because it’s familiar or because it seems easy. Make sure you’re informed about all the details of the fundraising methods available to you, and determine which methods will have the biggest payoffs, considering your location, the time of year, and community preferences.
For example, merchant tickets, or play books, are coupon books that work perfectly well if your team is situated in a lively community, with plenty of local businesses available to offer their services for a discount for your benefit. But if your team plays in a more rural community, in which fewer local stores exist, you may want to consider selling plastic fundraising cards, which can be used as discount cards for some participating businesses, or even as VIP membership cards.
Limit Your Activities
Another reason you should choose your specific fundraising options wisely is that sometimes, less is more. It may seem counterintuitive to your goal of raising sales, but you should consider limiting your fundraising activities to a few per year. Doing so creates a number of advantages:
- Avoids Donor Burnout. Put simply, if you ask the same donors for money every week or month throughout the season or year, even the most well-intentioned parents and relatives will begin to say no. By limiting your fundraising efforts, you ensure that your donors stay loyal and give to your team with passion.
- Maintains Focus. Chances are that fundraising isn’t your only responsibility in the youth team you manage. That means you will have limited time available, and splitting that time between a large number of efforts means you can’t devote as much attention to each individual effort as you should. One focused fundraising activity will raise more money than two haphazardly-managed campaigns.
- Adheres To The Scarcity Principle. Finally, don’t underestimate the perception of limited opportunities. After all, there is a reason you will see messages like “while supplies last” or “for a limited time only” on advertising messages in all industries. Psychology research has proven time and again that if we think something is scarce, our desire to be included increases exponentially. By limiting your fundraising activities, you appeal to this perception.
You may not think about limiting activities as a tactic to increase sales. But when done strategically, this can help you to avoid donor burnout, maintain focus, and appeal to the scarcity principle.
Involve Your Athletes And Donors
Another important strategy to increase your athletic fundraiser sales is to increase involvement—on both sides. Your athletes are the best people to raise donations from their friends, families, neighbors, and other community members. After all, it’s difficult to say no to a donation that helps buy uniforms or that will help book the trip of a lifetime.
At the same time, involving your donors has the same effect on your sales. When your audience feels like they have become an extended part of your team, they will be more likely to come back and give again to remain a vital part of the experience.
Evaluate And Adjust
Finally, you should bring your fundraising efforts full circle at the end of the season. Really evaluate how much effort each of these strategies has cost you and your team, and how many donations you received in return.
It’s almost too easy to think of fundraising as a once-a-year activity that simply repeats itself at the beginning of each season. In reality, each year should be more successful and focused than the past, thanks to an end-of-the-season evaluation that allows you to adjust your strategy, focus on what works, and drop the efforts that don’t.
Simply put, a post-season period of evaluation is the capstone to every successful fundraiser. Start with a plan of action, and choose the fundraisers that are most likely to be successful in your community. By being smart about the timing of your fundraisers, and by getting the students and donors interested and involved, you’ll undoubtedly increase your athletic fundraising sales year after year.