By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA
Due to the current economy, many school budgets have been adversely affected. There is less money available and, therefore, athletics also has to operate with greater constraints. As a result, fund-raising is not only for ancillary, extra items, but may actually be needed to provide necessary equipment, uniforms and possibly even transportation.
In addition, there is a school of thought that student-athletes should not be involved in fund-raising. Regardless of what side of this philosophical issue you find yourself, coaches and their teams may need to raise additional funds. To make this reality more palatable, perhaps you can hold fund-raisers that accomplish additional objectives such as having fun and promoting team bonding.
As with all fund-raising efforts, you want to make sure that you clear your idea and proposed date with the administration to ensure that it conforms to school policies. For example, whatever you do has to be legal and conforms to the community’s standards. Also, many schools have a master fund-raising calendar to protect all teams and organizations from unfair competition and overlapping efforts.
While candy and pizza sales have long been staples of team fund-raising efforts, they can be a chore. Selling products may have to be done for the benefit of the team, but it is hardly fun. Why not do something that earns some money, may be enjoyable and engaging for your athletes and possibly even serve as a team bonding activity?
Fitting these parameters, you may want to consider one of the following fund-raisers.
- Conduct a Bowl-a-Thon or other “thons” such as foul shooting, miles run or anything else that can be adapted to this concept. This fund-raiser is so simple. The athletes get individuals to sponsor them and pay an amount for the total that they complete. Some may simply decide to pay a donation regardless of the totals of an athlete.
- Hold spaghetti or pancake dinner. Some of the athletes would work as cooks and others as servers. If you can secure donations of food and supplies, the profits will be greater.
- Host a flea market that can be held in a gym or a parking lot when the weather permits. This effort would require securing vendors, publicity to draw customers, measuring and laying out the spaces and directing traffic. To boost income and to have a little more fun, your team can also sell items at its own team table.
- Host a 5-K race and this fund-raiser doesn’t have to be restricted to the cross country or track teams. You would have to secure permission to use a park or public roads, place notices with running clubs and on Web sites to attract runners.
If you can obtain a sponsor for t-shirts, the entry fees represent almost total profit. And if you can get donated items for the post-race refreshments, this is more money in your pockets.
- Host a youth tournament. Sports such as basketball, soccer and softball lend themselves well to this approach. This effort will mean that you have to schedule your facility, produce publicity notices, recruit and register the teams.
On the day of the tournament, you will need to line the fields and have a bunch of umpires or officials on hand. Additional money can be earned by selling concessions and tournament t-shirts, and the profits increase if a local merchant sponsors them.
- Organize and hold an auction or silent auction. While you may initially consider selling athletic memorabilia, almost any legal donation could do well. Young people can offer, for example, a certificate for one evening of baby sitting or lawn mowing and a teacher could offer three one-hour tutoring sessions.
You will need to schedule the gym and display the items before the bidding begins. The athletes can work as the runners bring the items up to the coach, or another adult who serves as the auctioneer.
- Host a student-faculty talent show. After selecting a weekend and reserving the auditorium, you put out a notice for auditions and begin to sell tickets. During intermissions, you can sell refreshments and you might also advance to the point of selling patron ads and producing a program. One or two nights of skits, singing, juggling and other assorted acts will result in a boat load of fun and some money.
- Hold a golf tournament. This is a well-established method of raising money if you can find a suitable date and a local course willing to work with your team. Your athletes can canvas the community for prizes and hole sponsors.
As a school event with athletes present, beer cannot be allowed during the tournament. But the young people can man lemonade, ice tea or soda stands at the various holes. And as a variation of a normal golf tournament, consider holding one at a miniature golf course, which surely would appeal to your student body.
Many of these examples will require planning and organization prior to the actual event. But if you can delegate some of these responsibilities to your athletes, they will also have an opportunity to gain some additional leadership skills.
Think about that! With one of these fund-raising possibilities, you will be earning much needed money, the student-athletes will have fun, it can be a team bonding experience and there may also be a possibility to enhance a life-long skill. It can’t get much better than that!
About the Author: Dr. David Hoch recently retired as the athletic director at Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland (Baltimore County). He assumed this position in 2003 after nine years as director of athletics at Eastern Technological High School in Baltimore County. He has 24 years experience coaching basketball, including 14 years on the collegiate level. Hoch, who has a doctorate in sports management from Temple University, is past president of the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association, and he formerly was president of the Maryland State Coaches Association. He has had more than 380 articles published in professional magazines and journals, as well as two textbook chapters. Hoch is a member of the NFHS High School Today Publications Committee.