As the swim-team coach, you’re constantly seeking ways to help your athletes achieve success. That includes making sure that they have the funds they need to travel to meets, and that their gear is in good shape.

Fundraising for swimming and diving teams shouldn’t take a back seat to other school sports during the year. It’s true that there’s a lot of competition for money these days, but the key a successful fundraiser in a crowded environment is to stand out through a strong advertising effort.

Good advertising, along with careful planning and a focused effort from the whole team can bring in big results. Here are three strategies for setting up a fundraiser that achieves the goals your team needs:

Target Your Market

Some of the most successful fundraisers you’ll ever run will be the ones that target the students whom your team members interact with every day. Sell where there’s the highest concentration of buyers: at school.

In-school fundraisers can be wildly successful. Think of the exposure you get if every team member is motivated to sell fundraising items. If your high school is on a block schedule, your team members will go to class with around 120 other students every day. Then there are the students they’ll walk past in the halls, the students they eat lunch with, and the students they attend other clubs and organizations with. That’s countless opportunities every day to sell fundraising products.

Set up an eye-catching fundraising table or designate your classroom as the place where orders will be taken up. Use flags and banners to attract attention, especially if you’re setting up in the middle of a busy commons area. Your goal is to make sure that everyone in the school knows about your fundraising efforts.

Talk with the newspaper staff to discuss an article about the upcoming fundraiser. They should talk up the swim team and mention accomplishments. The important part is getting people excited about the fundraiser.

Keep It Simple

If your swim team is like most others, practice starts before school. That means your swimmers and divers are rolling out of bed well before any of their classmates are. And when they get out of school, they have homework, home responsibilities, and even part-time jobs that demand their time, energy, and attention. Instead of making heavy demands on your kids’ after-school time and energy, keep your fundraiser simple, and design it to be convenient for your students.

Put together order forms that are straightforward and easy to understand. Be sure to go over them with your students at least once to make sure that they get it. If possible, create your own order forms that don’t have blanks for information that you don’t really need. Instead, keep the forms as simple as possible so that your kids can fill them out in a hurry as needed.

Offer products that don’t require much selling. Plastic discount cards and merchant tickets are incredibly popular and easy to sell as fundraising items, because the return on the investment is clear. Local businesses donate discounts and special deals, which buyers can use throughout the year, or for a
specific duration. Talk to local merchants, and see what they’d like to offer. Businesses love the press and traffic that come from offering a deal through discount cards and merchant tickets, so they’re usually very happy to donate to a good cause.

As a bonus, plastic discount cards and merchant tickets are easy for the kids to keep on hand and take with them on the go. Keeping custom-designed envelopes with the fundraiser items will make it easier for your swim-team members to keep track of the money they’ve raised.

Get the whole team involved

A team that’s motivated to raise funds for the sport they love is one of the greatest assets your fundraising campaign can have. If each person is working towards the same goal, they’ll each be willing to put in a little more time and effort to help out everyone. When they work together, the kids won’t just make more money—they’ll enjoy camaraderie and have more fun doing it!

If you can get the whole team on board for an after-school commitment, your efforts will be best served by organizing a large event like a car wash or a big bake sale, where you can easily gather members of the team together and accomplish a great deal of fundraising within a few hours.

Again, smart planning and organizing is key to a big event like this. Consider rotating shifts of just an hour or two, so the kids don’t get burned out. If you’re giving the money to individuals instead of the team as a whole—for example, if you’re paying off a big trip or paying for swimsuits, warm-up suits, or other individual items—pool the money collected, then share it between everyone who came and put in the effort. By sharing funds, you ensure that everyone who puts in the effort to show up raises as much money as everyone else.

With great advertising, smart organization, and a lot of team effort, you can build a fundraiser that will take care of many of your financial needs. Take the time to set it up right before you dive in and you’ll be surprised by just how successful it can be.