We’re all familiar with the annual bake sales and car washes that football teams put on each year. And sadly, sometimes all we see are these same old fundraisers over and over. Boring is not the word you want to describe your fundraiser. You want people to feel lucky to be able to give money to something really beneficial for the community. Or who genuinely feel that whatever is being sold is worth what they’re paying. That’s the reaction that you want to get from your fundraisers – people who are not only willing, but happy to fund your football team – and this article is all about creative ideas to do just that.
In order for this to happen, a hopeful fund-raiser should think about 3 simple principles. We’ve outlined them for you here and thought through some creative football fundraising ideas you can use to raise money for your football team.
1. Make Sure Everyone Benefits
A really successful fundraiser doesn’t just reach the goal amount that you’re trying to raise (though that’s definitely important!) but also engages the entire community. That happens when the fans and local businesses donating to your fundraiser are participants in the fundraiser. They’re not just purchasing that store-bought baked good out of social obligation, they’re happy to use their money to help your football team continue to play – maybe because the community as a whole will be more successful.
Sometimes fundraisers are merely a ploy to give people an excuse to give you money. Sort of like a consolation prize for donating to your team. But that doesn’t make them want to come to the games or spread the word to their friends or co-workers. You want to design a fundraiser that is beneficial for the donor too. Your benefit is easy – you get the money you need. Think about what the “customers” are going to get out of this deal. Here are a few examples of how you can design a fundraiser where everyone benefits:
Benefit Night at a Local Restaurant
A great way to do this is to involve local businesses in your fundraiser. Is there is a nice restaurant in town that would be willing to host a benefit night for your team? See if they’ll agree to donate a portion of their sales for a particular night. In this case there’s actually a three way benefit here. You not only get the dollars you’re looking to raise but you also develop a relationship with a local business that you can use in the future. The “customer” gets a good meal and the added bonus that they are supporting a local business as well as your team. Finally the restaurant itself gets free advertising, as you and your team promote the night, and they get develop social proof by associating themselves with your football team. That’s a win-win-win!
Online Fan Shops
Another great idea to make sure that everyone is benefiting from the fundraiser is to set up an online fan shop. The setup is easy and free. This type of online fundraiser saves time for busy coaches, amongst other benefits. But they also benefit your “customer” because they’re getting cool merchandise that serves a practical function. Selling merchandise is also great because it builds a connection with your team. Every time they wear that hoodie or beanie cap they’ll see your logo and think of your team. This will likely turn them into fans (who continue to support you) and they’ll be back year after year.
2. Know Your “Customer”
In order to get that money to help your team, you also need to know a little about the people who might be donating in order to gear your fundraisers towards different audiences. And, the truth is that you know more than you might realize. Are you the coach of a high school or middle school football team? Well it’s likely the “customers” that you’ll get to your fundraiser are going to be the parents of your players, your players’ friends and other students. Essentially, these are the parents you spoke with after the game and the kids that you coach. Yes, you want more than just your players and their parents to come out or to donate but the people that are going to come are going to be similar to them.
Remember the restaurant benefit night idea we recommended? That might be a great idea for those parents. They’d likely appreciate a good excuse to go out on a nice date. They’ll feel good about giving you money for your football team since they get a great meal out of it. But what about the students – will this be something they’ll enjoy? Well, maybe high school students are starting to date but probably not your average middle schooler. Students are more likely to spend their money on something fun and something social.
School Game Night
A surefire way to get students excited about your fundraiser is to have a game night. This could range from a whole host of options from spectator events like teacher sumo wrestling or inclusive nights like a battle of the classes. This is also a great opportunity to double down on the fundraisers and get more out of that one night. You can charge admission by selling tickets during school hours and at the door.
But why stop there? Get a few raffles going throughout the night and maybe even set up some stations where participants can use pre-bought tickets to have a message read over the speaker system, or throw water balloons/whip cream pies at a teacher. Get creative, brainstorm with your team, and combine some great ideas to make it a memorable (and profitable) night.
Community Yard or House Work
If you’re the coach of a football team, then you have at least a dozen young men who are strong and full of energy (unless you run a senior’s league, then maybe this one isn’t the best option for you). Get your guys together and send them out to the community to help with miscellaneous house/yard work. The great thing about this is that it can be either a one-time event where say, Saturday, October 10 your guys will be available to work. Or it could be an ongoing thing. You could choose to let the “customer” set their price or you could have an “hourly rate.” This is also a great way to build ties with the community.
3. Play to Your Team’s Strengths
When planning your fundraiser keep in mind the specific abilities and talents that your players have. The yard work idea is a good example of this because it uses your team’s physical strength and ability for the fundraiser. It’s always good to get the actual players involved in raising money for the team and it’s especially helpful when you organize the event around their strengths.
I’m not quite sure what it is but there’s something about football and barbeque that just work well together. As the coach of a football team you likely have a bunch of guys, hungry guys, with hungry friends who would love a good barbeque. But even beyond that group, who isn’t down for some slammin’ ribs or some BBQ jerk chicken? If you have some cooking talent in your group, then use it.
Host a barbeque cook off at someone’s house or even right at the field where you’ll be playing, if you can get permission. Charge a small admission price, get music going, and challenge your players, their friends, and family to submit a personal favorite BBQ food (perhaps that they cooked up right there) and have a contest to see who makes the best BBQ. You can use a raffle to randomly select judges from the crowd to taste test and determine the winner. This is also a great time to double down again and incorporate other creative ideas to keep the event moving and to even generate more revenue toward your fundraising goal.
Okay this might sound a bit strange at first. But I’ve seen it work extremely well, especially in the context of a high school. But only you know your customer and can really play to your team’s strengths so maybe this isn’t for you. But if you have guys on your team who are talented on the dancefloor, use that. People love to dance. Even most people who can’t dance (guilty) love to dance or at least love to watch people dance while they nod their head and tap their foot from the safety of their chair. This is an event that, if well-advertised, can draw a crowd and get people talking about it for a long time afterward. Remember: you want to run fundraisers that create fans.
See if you can use the school’s auditorium or gymnasium. Start promoting by making posters and announcements for the dance competition. Sell tickets for admission in advanced and at the door. One way to encourage entries in the competition is by allowing free admission for participants. Use a portion of the ticket sales for a prize for the winning team. And let the crowd decide. You can do this by seeing who gets the most applause and judging that way. Or, you can use a raffle to randomly select judges from the audience.
And again, double down - you’ve got everybody in one place at one time and they’re looking to participate and have fun. Use that opportunity to incorporate other ideas into the night like raffling off prizes, having small “side show” competitions that people need to buy into like a strength contest, or goofy relay race.
Be creative and talk with your team, think through these principles, and use some of these ideas if they work for you. Put the fun in fundraising. It’s an opportunity to get the community together to help you reach a goal. But it can also be an opportunity for you to help meet the needs of the community or just give them a really fun time!