Everyone who plays a sport or who is engaged in sports team management knows that the team can only thrive so long as its funding streams do. Fundraising is absolutely key for keeping sports team programs alive and healthy, especially for smaller schools that have limited resources and shifting priorities.
The great news?! There are so many fun, team-building ways to garner ongoing financial support for your softball program. From simply setting up a donation table at your games to partnering with local sponsors or holding a raffle, each fundraising project is unique and reaps a myriad of benefits for your softball team.
Some fundraising projects will strictly involve the efforts of your team members, some, their families, and some, the wider community that surrounds and supports your team. The key is to know which fundraising project(s) will work best for your specific team and funding situation and to move through the project(s) with perseverance and positive energy.
One of the most timeless sports team fundraising ideas is to fundraise via local sponsors. These can include local businesses, restaurants, cafes, spas, grocery stores, and beyond. The key is to choose to solicit the right businesses or the ones that have a personal or mission-based connection with someone internal to you.
For example, a new, local burger joint may be looking for some increased business visibility and thus may be happy to pay for T-shirts, so long as their business name is big and bold on your t-shirts’ backs. If your team is looking to fundraise a large amount, you may even feature a series of business names on the back of your T-shirt. When asking for support, always remember that the best fundraising relationships are mutually supportive – local entities will always be happy to give as long as their incentive to do so is strong.
Example: Takoma Park Silver Spring (TPSS) is a tax-exempt, nonprofit group that provides various baseball and softball programs to their community. To help players from low-income families and restore an old field, they set up an online fundraising campaign to create sponsorship opportunities via different donation levels. How these levels will support their teams and the benefits the sponsors will receive in return are clearly mentioned in their donation form and the content. Take a look –
Hosting donation tables at your event is a powerful, personal and reliable way to raise money for your team. Ask for volunteers amongst team parents or family members to run the tables each week, and train your volunteers on FAQ answers and a solid understanding of how any donations will be used.
Another idea for donation table fundraising is to advertise giving levels and donation incentives at every shift. For example – someone who walks up to the table and gives $20 may receive a team pin, while someone who donates $50 may receive a team t-shirt. Get as much contact information as possible from donors, while respecting their privacy preferences.
Pro tip: Once a gift is given, don’t stop there! Ask the donor if they’d be okay with you listing their name on your team website or featuring them in a post on social media, inspiring other team family members and friends to give as well.
This is a fun fundraising tactic that will inspire your entire team to get involved! At each game, consider selling team merchandise such as t-shirts, socks, hats, jerseys, water bottles, or branded equipment. Donors love to feel like they’re an integral part of a mission when giving, so make sure that your merch is branded well, attractive, and something that donors will actually want to use publicly after buying.
Get your team involved in merchandise design and planning! Consider setting aside 30 minutes at the end of one practice for your team members to brainstorm ideas on the look and feel of your merchandise items.
Consider hosting a contest for this, too! Then, to make the merchandise purchasing experience more personal for donors, include a small sign next to your items with the name of the teammate who designed the specific piece of merchandise. Donors will feel more connected to their purchase knowing personal details about the way their purchase came to be.
Raffles are an incredible fundraising tactic that can be used to build excitement and fundraising momentum! Raffle off items that are relevant to your softball team or that will actually make donors want to get involved.
For example, you might raffle off a gift card to a delicious local restaurant, tickets to a nearby major or minor league softball team game, or a brand new softball bat or baseball. You might even raffle off free season ticket passes for your own team or a reservation to the best parking spot for a year.
The way you set up your raffle is just as important as what is being raffled off. Will you sell tickets, and how much will they cost? How many raffle tickets can be bought per person. Instead of selling tickets, will you give raffle tickets in exchange for some other goods or services?
For example, your team may need volunteers to help clean up the softball field after games, to run the donation table, or to manage concessions. Perhaps you could offer raffle tickets for that kind of work that will also go back to supporting your team- a win-win situation!
It’s an age-old idea, but it works every time. Team car washes are fun for both your team members and those who come to get their cars washed. Build momentum for your car wash by running advertisements (e.g. signs, posters, email, and social media ads).
Create “add-ons” at the wash, just like any regular car wash: perhaps you sell a basic car wash for $20 but will shine tires or even vacuum out a car for $45.
Make sure to pick a location for washing cars that is big enough, not prone to traffic, and that will remind those who participate in the car wash of your softball team. Ideally, your carwash will be held in the parking lot of your team’s school. If this is impossible for some reason, try to hold the car wash in a parking lot or area that is close to one of your sponsoring businesses or restaurants.
Pro tip: Always send your carwash participants away with something – like a raffle ticket or two. But the best would be a flyer with your team’s schedule, contact information, and links to your team’s social media accounts. If you have a website and an evergreen donation page, do add the links in the flyer to inspire donations.
Why not host a good old-fashioned bake sale for your team? There is a myriad of benefits of running a bake sale, from the fact that a bake sale will get your team members and team parents involved, to the fact that your team members can sell to their peers during school hours – expanding your team’s network and visibility.
Get creative with your bake sale! Consider baking cakes or cookies to look like softballs or other team equipment. Decorate your cookies and pastries with team colors and include your team name.
Be mindful of all potential allergy and diet restrictions for buyers, and include gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free options. Accept both cash and credit cards for the bake sale, and try to get permission to set up your bake sale table in a highly visible spot in your team’s school. This may include a large table right outside or inside the cafeteria, or a table by the gym or field’s entrance areas where you can set up shop before and during games.
Who doesn’t LOVE cookie dough? Just like a girl scout or boy scout would sell popcorn and cookies, consider selling this tasty treat that many will have a hard time turning down.
Make sure that you have an attractive, branded brochure of cookie dough options for the kids in your team and their families to sell door to door, at school, or even at work. Include a wide array of cookie dough flavor options, from rich fruity, nutty, cinnamon, mint, or chocolate options to vegan and gluten-free options.
Pro tip: Set yourself up with a cookie dough corporate partner who will allow you to keep a large return on each sale. The best cookie dough sellers will allow you to keep 50% or more on each cookie dough sale (once again, corporate fundraising incentives are at play here!). For example, Justfundraising and Buy for Charity can be great for your team. They let you keep up to 55% profit.
Also, let the seller know you’ll pitch their brand to prospective buyers or will feature their brand on your team or school’s sports social media pages.
You might’ve noticed a pattern by now: food ALWAYS sells, so get after it! Popcorn is another great option next to selling cookie dough, as it is available with a variety of flavor and seasoning options for your inevitable variety of prospective buyers.
Include buttery, cheesy, spicy, sugary, tangy, and even fruity options for your popcorn repertoire. Sell your popcorn in a variety of tin shapes and sizes at a variety of price points, so you can meet the needs of all of your buyers. At the same time, raise sufficient funds for your softball team.
Who’s your popcorn corporate partner? Find a popcorn retailer who will give you at least 50% of your earnings for every bag or tin sold. Ideally, you’ll find a popcorn retailer who will provide you with free fliers, brochures, and covered shipping costs (they do exist!). With this much coverage and support from your corporate partner, selling popcorn will be a totally risk-free endeavor for your team.
Double Good can be the best option for you here. WIthout any minimums or fees, they let you keep 50% profit by selling premium popcorn. The site even has virtual and in-person fundraising plans for teams.
Discount card fundraisers are an excellent way to get team fans, family members, friends, and prospective donors excited. ABC Fundraising is an example of a great company that sells set-up and support-for discount card fundraising for your team.
Discount cards can be purchased by buyers and used to receive discounts at local merchants, restaurants, and stores in your area. What’s more is that ABC Fundraising itself will actually offer your team the highest profit rate in the entire discount card fundraiser industry – at 93%.
Through discount card fundraisers, buyers can save hundreds of dollars on experiences and items they would’ve spent money on. Moreover, companies like ABC Fundraising will allow you to customize your card and suggest retailers and restaurants you’d prefer to be included on your team’s discount card. The company also allows for an online web store at which your team’s followers can easily and conveniently purchase these discount cards.
Similar to how your team might consider fundraising via local sponsors, sports stores are a great option for some quick and exciting softball fundraising.
Simply contact your local sports store(s) and ask if they’d be willing to give a small percentage of their earnings for a day or series of days to your softball team. In return, your team could offer to feature the sports store on your social media pages or newsletters to give the store some visibility and an increased reputation for community service and involvement.
Pro tip: If you elect to host a sports store fundraiser, consider creating a “theme” or tying it to a particular season, so as to incentivize more buyers to come to the store. For example, “Summer Sports Equipment Sale”, “New Year, New You Fundraiser” etc. Don’t forget to make the theme the focus of your marketing efforts.
Have as many team members and supporting families as possible at the event – running your team table, interacting with customers, or handing out team flyers or raffle tickets as a thank you for attending.
Friends and family love supporting their favorite team member – and what better way to do this than by hosting a home-run derby tournament? Have your team members ask their parents, family members, or friends to agree to sponsor them at a certain amount (e.g. $50) for each home run they hit.
Your team members might even try asking for cumulative donations – $50 for their first home run, $100 for their second, and beyond. To make things even more fun, suggest that your team members challenge their personal supporters to place monetary bets on the number of home-run hits they will incur.
Pro tip: This can be a great way for you to encourage peer-to-peer fundraising through your team members. Ask them each to create a crowdfunding campaign page for themselves. They can use it to tell the team’s story, tie it to their own personal inspiration behind joining the team, and eventually, mention the derby tournament. This way they can raise some extra funds from their friends and families for their softball team.
Softball season, fundraising season, a season for new projects and team building activities: it’s time for you and your team to evaluate your funding needs and take a swing at some new and exciting fundraising projects. Whether you’re new to raising money for your team or just need to shake things up, this mix of modern and traditional fundraising approaches will improve your team’s financial health and put you exactly where you need to be.
You can also give the rest of our nonprofit blog a read for tips, resources, and trends on nonprofits management.