Volunteer parents, park districts and independent youth sports organizations can use many of the same techniques for generating revenue as professional sports teams. They also often have the advantage of nonprofit status, providing additional methods for bringing in funds. Understanding some basic techniques used by youth sports organizations across the country can help you generate money to reduce the cost of participating in kids’ sports.
Check Your Organizational Status
The first step in fundraising and selling sponsorships is to note your organization’s tax status. You might be a nonprofit that is not tax-exempt. This occurs when an organizations incorporates as a nonprofit at the state level but does not apply for federal tax-exempt status. Nonprofit sports organizations with federal tax-exempt status are usually granted either 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) status. Only 501(c)(3) organizations let donors take a tax deduction for their contribution. Businesses that purchase sponsorships won’t need you to have tax-exempt status — they can write off their sponsorship fee as a business expense.
Appoint a Committee
Create a committee to oversee your fundraising and sponsorship efforts. Look for people with experience in nonprofit, marketing, grant writing, sales or small-business ownership. Small-business owners can tell you what their peers will likely want in a sponsorship.
Write a List of Potential Partners
Develop a list of the people and groups most likely interested in working with you. Sponsors will be interested in your parents, who make purchasing decisions for their kids. Look at doctors, dentists, tutors and other businesses that target parents. Donors, such as foundations that give grants, should have a demonstrated interest in children. This might include foundations that seek to help with drug prevention, empowering girls or helping at-risk youth.
Develop Your Benefits List
Write a list of the benefits you offer. Businesses will want a logo and/or link on your website, name on a T-shirt, logo on registration and other printed materials, signage at games, inclusion in your social media efforts, ads in a program book or park district catalog, mentions in press releases, product giveaway opportunities, and naming rights to the league or a team that plays in the league. Foundations list the criteria they use to award grants at their websites. Try to match the benefits you offer children to the goals of a foundation.
Create Your Sales Pitch
Draft your message to potential sponsors and donors. Start by talking about how you can help the business or foundation, rather than showcasing yourself. Show potential partners that you understand their marketing or giving objectives and tell them how you can help them. Save information about your organization until later, using it to demonstrate your credibility. Query parents who own small businesses or work in the marketing department as to what you should charge for sponsorships. Visit the websites of other youth groups to see what they are charging.
Other Fundraising Ideas
Look for professional fundraising companies that help organizations find items they can sell for a profit. These companies buy items in bulk, allowing them to offer you a commission on every item you sell. This usually requires parents to help kids sell items such as holiday gift wrap or cards, leaf bags or other items. While kids use to go door-to-door selling fundraising items, parents now take them to work, leaving a sign-up sheet in the break room for fellow employees to help out. Consider a silent auction of items donated by league parents or local businesses. Hold a raffle with a main prize and several smaller ones. You might ask a car dealer to donate a one-year lease on a vehicle, having raffle purchasers come into the dealership to purchase their tickets. Golf courses, hotels and restaurants are other options.
Contact Potential Donors and Sponsors
Once you have created your materials, send your letters and support material and follow up with a phone call. Have volunteers who are familiar with all you have to offer make the calls so that they can answer questions a sponsor might have. To apply for grants, follow the directions at a foundation’s or business’s website. Call the organization if you have any questions to ensure you fill out the application correctly.