The track and field season is at its end, and coaches are starting to enjoy their summer. But as you prepare for the beginning of cross-country season in September, should you really lose sight of all of those athletes who competed in running, jumping, and other field disciplines throughout spring?

When it comes to fundraising, the answer is a definite “no.” Summer might not be the right time to ask your local community to support your track and field team financially, but it’s ideal for evaluating the success of your efforts during the past season.

Beyond just counting the money you raised, evaluating your campaign requires understanding exactly how everyone involved was impacted by the effort. It should also involve a thorough review of your tactics to help you build a better track and field fundraising strategy before the fall season kicks into gear and your time is drawn into other projects.

Here are five questions that you should be asking yourself to evaluate the past season’s fundraising efforts:

First Things First: How Successful Was Your Campaign?

The first step in evaluating a fundraising campaign is to get a basic understanding of just how successful it actually was. Typically, three variables play into that evaluation:

  • How much money did the campaign raise?
  • How much time and resources were spent on the campaign?
  • Did the campaign reach the goal set at its beginning?

The answer to these three questions forms the basis of any successful evaluation. Contrasting the money raised with the resources spent, for example, allows for a basic return on investment (ROI) calculation.

Meanwhile, understanding the progress toward (or success in achieving) the basic monetary goal helps to determine not only how realistic initial expectations were, but also what needs to change when you set goals for next year’s effort.

What Did Your Track and Field Team Think About Your Fundraising Initiatives?

Of course, a wide range of variables play into the success of any fundraising campaign, particularly when students are involved. One factor that cannot be underestimated is how the students who were involved in raising money actually felt about the strategy and its execution.

Ideally, you should try to check in with students before they leave for summer break, but if you’re a bit behind the game this year, try connecting digitally while they’re enjoying their time off. Design a quick survey or Google Form with a few questions related to the campaign:

  • Did they enjoy participating?
  • Which initiatives were their favorite, and which did they not like as much?
  • What would they do differently next year?

Asking these questions may not give you a comprehensive understanding of your campaign, but it will give you some qualitative insights into your team’s participation and engagement. At the very least, your track and field athletes will feel more included and perhaps, more compelled to help raise funds next spring.

What Are Community Attitudes Toward Your Team?

Another important group of stakeholders to consider are the people actually contributing to your track and field team. If you can, ask around in the local community about your fundraising efforts:

  • Did the groups most likely to contribute actually have a chance to donate?
  • Did they enjoy giving money to the team, and did they see that money make a difference?
  • Will they donate again next year? (And, if not, why not?)

Here, an important insight to gain is the range of feelings about your team among current donors and your local community as a whole. Do people feel like they know about the dates of meets, and your team’s performance after them? If not, you might want to consider mailers or other forms of communication to keep them more involved (and more likely to give).

How Can You Better Coordinate With Your High School’s Other Teams?

When fundraising for high school sports, it’s crucial to remember that your track and field team is likely one of multiple organizations asking for money among the same groups of friends, families, and local businesses. During the spring season alone, baseball, volleyball, and softball teams in your high school are likely looking for the same types of contributions that you are.

Rather than turning your campaign into a competition with these teams, it makes sense to take the offseason as an opportunity to determine how you can better collaborate with them. Are there joint fundraising opportunities throughout the year? If not, how can you time your campaign so as not to overlap with other efforts, maximizing your individual impact on the community?

What Successes Are Repeatable? What Can You Do Better Next Year?

Finally, it’s time to move from the evaluation stage to the planning stage. All of the above insights can only be valuable if you use them as impetuses to build a better fundraising strategy for next spring.

As this stage, it makes sense to go deep into the individual tactics used during the campaign. How successful were your merchant tickets, compared to your order forms? Which brought in the best ROI, and would make sense to prioritize the following year?

Based on your evaluation, you can begin to both formulate an overall monetary goal for next year and pinpoint the individual tactics you will use to achieve that number.

You also have the opportunity now to evaluate and modify last year’s timeline. Did you start fundraising during the preseason last year? Perhaps, it makes more sense to wait until the season has begun for the bulk of your fundraising efforts, so that you can highlight specific aspects of the team in your messaging. Making a plan now will lead to lower stress levels when the new team hits the track next spring.

Track and field fundraising never really ends – it just shifts emphasis with the end of the season. By answering the five questions presented above, you will be well on your way to building a fundraising strategy for next year’s track and field team that will surpass even this year’s most successful efforts.