With education funding on a steady decline over the past five years, the sports teams that provide a vital source of entertainment and cohesion for the student body have increasingly found themselves underfunded. While some teams were able to stave off budget cuts for some time, fundraising for baseball teams has now become a necessity in many towns. If budget constraints are putting a squeeze on your team’s ability to buy equipment, that old-fashioned bake sale may not be enough any more.

If you’re looking for strategies to increase funds for your baseball team this year, start by expanding your notion of what fundraising can be. At its core, every fundraising effort for a local sports team should call on the town’s sense of community. In fact, when fundraisers are done well, a team should see higher ticket sales to the games after the drive.

Local Business Support

Local businesses are the lifeblood of any town—and that means that outreach to those businesses is one of the most important aspects of any community-based fundraising campaign. Local businesses are often eager to join high-school sports fundraising initiatives for two primary reasons:

  • Advertising drives traffic to their establishments
  • Involvement shows their integration with the community and support for local schools

Because of these motivations for getting involved, there are two fundraising strategies that are popular for garnering that crucial local business support: merchant tickets and promotional flyers.

Merchant tickets are easy for everyone involved: the team simply reaches out to local businesses who are ready to offer a discount on their services and products. The team compiles the offers from all of the merchants, sends the information to the printer, and the team now has a coupon-book fundraising item that is valuable, easy to sell, and gives the donating business an increase in traffic and advertising.

All merchant ticket books are scored and perforated, and are easily customizable with the team’s mascot, school colors and schedules. In addition to customizing the logo, depending on the size of your fundraising effort, you’ll be able to choose the ticket-book size that works best for your needs. The 16-count, 48-count, and 60-count versions are the most popular choices.

The bottom line is that merchant tickets are the simple and direct way of fundraising that gets results for everyone involved.

If you’re looking for additional support from businesses, consider printing a flyer with a picture of the team and all of the season’s games listed. If a business donates a certain amount to your team’s fundraiser, let them know how much you appreciate their support sending them a high quality and professionally printed flyer of your team. Many businesses that have donated will be proud to show their support to the community by hanging the flyer on their wall.

Student Support

The students at your school are an excellent source for fundraising opportunities. After all, they are most likely already invested in the success of the team, and are the target audience for selling branded merchandise to—including merchant tickets that are designed with the school mascot. Best of all, students who decide to buy spirit products are more likely to attend the next game.

Your team might also consider creating unique items that would be a must-have for the student body. A custom printed calendar with large photos of the team in different poses or strange costumes are always big sellers among students and families alike.

Family Support

While selling spirit-branded merchandise to students is a great way to generate buzz about your games and raise some funds for your team, when selling to the families of team members, you’ll need to take a slightly different approach.

In fact, for family members, don’t think of selling items, at all. Instead, offer fundraising items for a minimum donation that is set at a price slightly above your costs. This allows families of better means to give more to the team than they would if simply purchasing an item.

As for how to brand their merchandise, consider stickers or magnets that let family members show off the fact that their child is on the baseball team: “A proud parent of…” Be sure to include more than just parents, though! It is likely that a proud grandparent, sister, or brother will also want one, too.

Community Support

While local businesses, students, and family members should be focal points of every school fundraiser, don’t forget to look for support from other community members, as well. When local students are successful both in academics and in sports, the entire community benefits. And this is an important demographic to appeal to, since most of your fundraising opportunities may not be affiliated with the school.

The key to getting community members involved and excited about raising funds for your baseball team is to offer an item that is actually useful. Since spirit merchandise won’t be of interest to this demographic, merchant tickets are a very effective way to reach out to the community. Merchant tickets offer actual savings and discounts at local businesses that everyone frequents, so they’re easy to sell to those not affiliated with the school.  Real value to consumers is a big reason merchant tickets are so successful at raising funds for school athletics, bands and groups.

The most successful high-school sports fundraisers ask its supporters to make charitable donations not just because of what they will receive in return, but because they care that their team will go on to the field properly dressed and well equipped. The fundraiser itself should not only result in a successful accumulation of donations—it should also increase the community’s connection to the team.