Fall will be here before you know it. Just as we enter summer, coaches and organizers alike are already preparing for the high school sports that will kick off almost as soon as the students return.

This means some amount of preparation has to be done ahead of time. An emphasis on fundraising is always huge, but it doesn’t mean it has to happen all at once. Ideally, now is the time to start developing a fundraising plan that your high school soccer team can begin to execute as soon as they return to training. Here are five steps to ensure you’re ready when September rolls around.

Know Your Team

Your first step should always be to know exactly how your team will react to and engage in fundraising. Every group of teenagers is different, so the group you coach and manage might need a vastly different strategy (and goal-setting) process to achieve the end goals.

More introverted players, for instance, may prefer indirect fundraising efforts that are closely connected to game attendance. A group of extroverts, on the other hand, might rather go door to door in the local community and engage their friends and family to buy fundraising products.

Know Your Community

At the same time, knowing your community is just as important as your team. How much does your town or city know about your soccer team, or even soccer in general? Does a fundraising effort have to start with an education on what the funds may be used for, or have you already established these parameters over the past several years?

The variables don’t end there. Communities with a thriving downtown can benefit from fundraising efforts that include door-to-door activities. More rural, spread out communities, on the other hand, may find direct mail efforts focused on families and friends to be more effective. And of course, the size of your community will impact the amount of money your high school soccer team can actually raise.

Order the Right Products

Knowing your team and your community are key to understanding the question your campaign has to answer regarding which fundraising initiatives will work for them. And once they know this, they can more easily figure out which products will be work for their fundraisers.

It’s important to know you have options. Merchant tickets can work especially well if you get the buy-in of local businesses within the community. Order forms, on the other hand, may be more beneficial in the form of a direct mailer to audiences you already know will contribute at least some money to the team.

Don’t underestimate the fundraising potential your soccer team can have during games. This is where your supporters can see the team in action. Concession stands are an old favorite, but will need to go beyond these traditional methods to hit your goals. Consider themed membership cards that designate followers of your team as VIPs – for a price.

Even after considering your options, you might not know which way to go. Ask former fundraisers for the team what has worked in the past. If you don’t get far with this, just try what makes the most sense for the amount of people and time you have for it.

Get the Timing Right

Once you know what products you’re going to use, it’s time to create a schedule that will cover all the details. Should you go heavy in the beginning or toward the end of your season?

Your goals will determine your outcome, so set high, but attainable ones. If you need the money for a mid-season trip or equipment, you will want to kick this off in the very beginning. If you wait, you might put the trip in jeopardy. Or, students might have to fork over more personal funds to cover costs.

Are you thinking about using direct mail? Keep in mind that U.S. bulk mailing can take a few weeks. If you want it to take effect as the soccer season unfolds, you will need to be proactive throughout the summer to ensure everything goes out on time. This is one reason why planning now is so important. You don’t want to be at the start of the season, realizing you needed to do things a month earlier.

Have you thought about how the team’s performance could alter the fundraising efforts? Members of the community, who are not directly affiliated with the team, will be more likely to give if the season is going well. If you anticipate a low number of wins this fall, consider going with an earlier push instead of depending on late-season drives.

Make it Personal

Finally, you have to make sure that your fundraising efforts are integrated well your high school soccer team itself. Selling merchant tickets, or sending out direct mail, should never be something that happens completely outside the team. Instead, it should be an expectation laid out for all of the players to be a part of.

Make your products personal. A direct mail piece with an order form will be more effective if you also include a schedule for the season, a roster sheet, or other information that makes your audience connect with the players.

Social media can help in your efforts. It’s even more effective if every post isn’t about fundraising. Tell stories to connect to people. Write about team accomplishments. Recognize coaches and mentors, even teachers. Encourage the players to bring in their photos from when they played soccer as young kids.

Summer may just be starting, but the time to start thinking about your fall sports fundraiser starts now. If you manage a soccer team, the above five steps should give you a head start in making sure that when September rolls around your team is already in a good position to kick off successful fundraising activities.