10 Actionable Sports Fundraising Ideas That Work

Sports can teach children the value of teamwork, commitment, and dedication. Joining a sports team also allows adults to keep fit and make new friends. The big drawback is cost. Luckily, sports fundraisers are some of the most fun ways to mobilize supporters. In this fundraising guide, we’ve shared ten of the best sports fundraising ideas.

8 minutes read
10 Actionable Sports Fundraising Ideas That Work

Fundraising continues to play an instrumental role in enabling team sports, whether it’s school sports programs or city sports programs. Balancing the books while ensuring your nonprofit continues to serve the local community is one of the most challenging and important tasks all nonprofit organizations face.

Sports can teach children the value of teamwork, commitment, dedication, all while helping them build social connections. Joining a sports team allows adults to keep fit, make new friends, and spend their time on a worthwhile endeavor.

But for all the benefits of organized sports, the big drawback can be the cost – making sports fundraising a bit tricky!

A lot of sports team must fundraise every year for a variety of expenses: team travel expenses, equipment costs, jerseys and apparel, tournament costs, scholarships, and more.

Luckily, sports fundraisers are some of the most fun ways to mobilize supporters, raise money, keep fit, and have a blast while doing it. What’s more, there are plenty of sports and activities you could choose from.

In this fundraising guide, we share with you our 10 best sports fundraising ideas:

  1. Healthy Potluck Picnic
  2. Fitness Classes
  3. Punish the Coach
  4. Sponsor an Athlete
  5. Offer Lessons
  6. Bowl-a-Thon
  7. Sponsorships
  8. Team Rental
  9. Mini Tournament
  10. Club Shop

1. Healthy Potluck Picnic

Community picnics are a classic sports fundraising idea. They work particularly well for school-based teams. Start the planning process early on since picnics can take a while to organize.

Find the perfect place for your picnic, like a local park or your school’s campus. Make sure you obtain the necessary permissions before getting started.

Create a sign-up sheet so that all the registered attendees can write what they’ll be bringing. This helps eliminate crossovers and ensures there’s enough variety. Make the picnic healthy to match the sport-oriented nature of your event. Suggest attendees bring fruit, vegetable dishes, juices, grain salads, and more.

Promote it to your whole network, and incorporate as many fundraising elements as possible into the event. Get creative and have fun! Develop contests, themes, or games for your healthy picnic to get everyone engaged! Not only are picnics effective fundraisers, but they help build engaged and supportive communities.

Charge a flat ticket fee. Donorbox Events lets you set up an event page online with details of the event and sell tickets through unlimited ticket levels. You can set a deadline for the event, add tax-deductibility information to each ticket level, accept donations from the ticketing form, and more. You also get to embed the ticketing form on your website instead of using the Donorbox-hosted event page. With this powerful tool, possibilities are endless and your event revenue is sure to rise.

Here’s an example of a healthy picnic event along with yoga and a guided tour for attendees.

Sports Fundraising Ideas

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2. Fitness Classes

With spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, more and more people are looking to get fit. And who doesn’t want to get fit while supporting a good cause?

This might be among the easiest sports fundraising ideas out there!

Have your athletes/club members teach a fitness class. You can base it around your sport or choose a more generic fitness activity (e.g. running, yoga, weightlifting, dance, or climbing).

Chances are your whole team, or at least one member can and would be willing to lead a class or several classes to raise funds for your club. Source an appropriate location for your class (e.g. a park, a gym, or a community center). Then, promote your class through email, on social media, and via flyers.

A fitness class with a mandatory donation is usually more likely to raise funds than a free, donation-based class. Set your class up for financial success by setting a ticket price, or strongly suggested donation. It is important to have a pricing strategy to increase revenue with an event like this. Check out this free event ticketing pricing guide we’ve developed for you.

Use the week leading up to your fitness fundraiser to start reaching your goal! Set up an online fundraising platform for your nonprofit. Along with selling tickets, also use a fundraising page to accept donations and take sponsorship payments for your event. For example, Make-A-Wish Ireland and SaranB Dance & Fitness have set up this fundraising page on Donorbox to accept donations for their upcoming Zumba class fundraising event.

best sports fundraising ideas

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3. Punish the Coach

There are plenty of different versions of this sports fundraising idea, all of them revolving around the exciting prospect of the coach enduring an uncomfortable challenge/punishment.

Unleash your creativity with this fundraising idea for a sports team. Set a fundraising goal and challenge your network to raise that amount in donations. If the goal is reached, the coach will get ‘punished’.

The punishment could be to duct tape the coach or athletes to the wall, the coach or athletes shaving their head, the coach wearing the mascot uniform for the whole day, or doing a different ‘embarrassing’ challenge. Team members will relish in the opportunity to potentially make their coach run laps and do burpees.

If using athletes for the challenge, make sure you get the parents’ approval. With this challenge, promoting through social media and email is key.

All of the promotional posts should link back to a donation page. To get the supporters engaged and donating more, make sure you have a fundraising thermometer in place. 

4. Sponsor an Athlete

A double whammy of fundraising opportunities, the ‘sponsor an athlete’ can bring money into the club on both a short and long-term basis.

It’s been shown time after time again that it’s easier for people to identify with individuals than with faceless groups of people. Try fundraising for individuals instead of raising funds for “the club”. Such an approach evokes empathy and helps increase your donations.

Membership fees, travel costs, equipment… Costs can quickly add up and prevent kids from low-income families from joining or staying in a sports club.

Start a fundraiser to cover all or part of registration fees, provide equipment, or cover travel costs for your members. Ideally, you’d recruit long-term donors who’d make regular recurring donations. Send progress updates and photos to the donors to keep the trust and maintain the relationship. Ensure your donors know the faces behind the names, understand your cause, and can relate to the purpose of your project.

Check out the below example from Georgia Force Athletics that has created this customized fundraising page on Donorbox to accept sponsorships for athletes. Their donation form is also customized for the need of this campaign with specific fields and questions.

5. Offer Lessons

Have your heard of peer-to-peer fundraising? This fundraiser can be one of the best examples for you. Encourage members of your sports club to share their lessons with others and raise funds for you. Teaching a skill is a great fundraising option for sports clubs.

Simple and straightforward, this fundraiser can be organized any time of the year.

Advertise your offer on your website, in local newspapers, magazines, notice boards, and other places.

Brainstorm anything that your sport allows you to teach and then choose something your members can offer lessons in (swimming, throwing a pitch, running, general fitness, and more).

Your members can be the biggest advocates for community participation in this fundraiser. Encourage them to share by providing a photo they can download and share, creating a hashtag for your club to rally behind, and ask them to share that on their social media profiles.

Donorbox Peer-to-Peer lets you create peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and invite your supporters right from the tool. They receive email invitations and are guided on the tool to create and customize their own fundraising pages. Thereafter, they can reach out to their networks and raise money for you. The whole process is highly automated and will help you and your fundraisers effectively raise (and boost) funds for your cause. Sign up for free and get started right away – no contracts, lowest platform fees! 

6. Bowl-a-Thon

Bowl-a-thons are fun, family-friendly, and easy to organize. To organize this inclusive sports fundraiser, partner with a local bowling alley.

Ask if they could donate some time to your clubs by letting you reserve several lanes at a convenient time for free. Set a date and promote the event online and offline. To increase participation, write a letter encouraging local businesses to contribute to your bowl-a-thon by providing prizes.

When promoting your bowl-a-thon, make sure that the purpose of your fundraising event is clearly stated. Charge for entry (either per individual or per team).

Here’s an example of a crowdfunding page created on Donorbox to raise funds with a bowling fundraiser night. Crowdfunding campaigns have huge potential for helping you reach your fundraising goal even with smaller donation amounts from your supporters and the community.

youth sports fundraising ideas

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7. Sponsorships

Regular, reliable income is something every sports club strives for – and sponsorships are a great way to help ensure that.

Seek out corporate sponsors who would donate to your club and in return get their logo and link on the team website, a plaque at the end of the season, logo on a football, signs at an oval, or free advertising in a newsletter.

Sponsorship is when businesses and companies provide funds, resources or services to a sports club in return for rights and/or associations with the club. These rights or associations generally help the business commercially.

You could also ask local sports store chains or other businesses to give discounts to the players or give a percentage of their profit to your sports club.

In addition to reaching out to businesses via email and phone, you can also sell banners and other advertisement space online. Keep an updated database of the consistent banner/ad/schedule buyers and use email and a fundraising campaign reward (or other credit card option) to sell the banners online.

The relationship between sports teams/athletes and business is tried and true and that goes all the way down to local sports teams.

Oaks Dads’ Club uses the below fundraising page and the donation form to promote their sponsorship levels as well as accept sponsorships for their club.

fundraising ideas for sports teams  

8. Team Rental

Hold an auction in which people can bid for your team members, either for individuals or the whole team. The auctioned-off players could do a variety of chores (e.g. mowing the lawn, helping clean the garage, walking dogs, raking leaves, and more). All the proceeds would go to your nonprofit.

To make everything run smoothly, offer a list of available tasks beforehand.

If organizing an auction seems like too much work, consider renting out your team for the aforementioned purposes for a set price (charge by the hour or 30 minutes).

It goes without saying that everyone on the team (and their parents) should agree with this sports fundraiser. 

9. Mini Tournament

A tournament fundraiser will work for all sorts of sports (soccer, baseball, basketball, softball, etc.)

Tournaments also make particularly great sports fundraising ideas for little leagues and kids’ teams. Your first step after deciding to run a soccer fundraiser tournament will be to find a location. You will need a sports field or fields to hold your event.

If possible, when booking the facilities make sure that they have everything you need (e.g. running water, electricity, changing rooms and toilets, etc.)

Advertise the event to solicit team sign-ups and garner spectators. Unless it’s an individual sport, also decide on the appropriate team sizes and have teams sign up. Make posters and email lists, and promote the tournament on social media.

You can do single-elimination rounds, double elimination, round-robin, etc. Create a schematic diagram of the different positions and stations to help people visualize the tournament.

A good tournament can soon become a regular part of your annual fundraising program and an eagerly anticipated event. 

10. Club Shop

Merchandise can bring in a lot of funds if done right. Too many sports clubs end up with tons of unsold items.

To avoid that, consider creating an online t-shirt contest and get your community to vote on the winning designs. This way, you ensure the design is something that is desirable and will sell. Use high-quality materials for your merchandise. While this will increase your costs, it will ensure that your supporters are satisfied and buy more in the future.

Of course, you can design more than t-shirts. Your supporters will likely also be interested in jerseys, t-shirts, water bottles, hats, phone cases, and other paraphernalia sporting their favorite team’s logo.

Additionally, sell a majority of your merchandise through pre-orders (ideally 80%+ of your total sales). This will help reduce or eliminate any excess and maximize your income.

Sports Fundraising, Continued

There are plenty of ways to raise funds for sports teams. Tournaments, sponsors, challenges — the options presented in this article are just the springboard. Begin with an idea that you feel is the most suitable for your sports club or use this list as an inspiration to come up with your own ideas.

Don’t forget to form a fundraising committee – this will ensure that one person doesn’t bear the burden of fundraising. Allocate duties within the fundraising committee and agree for them to meet at regular intervals to decide on activities and monitor progress.

And as you decide on a great idea to raise money with, be sure to find the right online fundraising platform for your nonprofit. Donorbox is an all-in-one fundraising solution that helps you create customized campaigns and donation forms, manage donors, sell tickets, run membership campaigns, and more. Learn about our features here.

Donorbox Premium is a success package designed for nonprofits to help them level up their fundraising efforts. Get coaching services from industry experts, premium software, and priority tech support for your organization – all at personalized pricing!

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Explore hundreds of other helpful blogs and free resources (checklists, templates, samples, and more) on the Donorbox Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send our best resources directly to your inbox every month.

Ilma Ibrisevic is a content creator and nonprofit writer. She’s passionate about meaningful work, sustainability, and social movements. If she’s not working, she’s obsessing over coffee or cooking. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

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