Fundraising Tips for Strength and Conditioning Programs
This is a topic that most of us hate. Fundraising for Strength and Conditioning programs have become a necessity because many programs don’t have the money included in the budget for updating the weight room and replacing equipment that has been broken. At many of the schools that I have been at I used to bargain and plead with the other coaches in the PE department to give me everything they could. During spring I would put together a list with prices of what we need for the following year. By that time most coaches were out of money and we never got the equipment we needed. Many strength and conditioning programs at high schools, middle schools, and small universities don’t even have a fundraising program. Sometimes coaches are intimidated by the prospect of fundraising. It creates more work for the already overworked strength coach. But it is a necessity if we want to provide the best program for our athletes.
We don’t want to be fundraisers. We want to coach. But sometimes it can be a benefit that many coaches don’t see. If we seek the help of others there can be a positive effect on the program as a whole. The community gets a glimpse of how hard you work and how hard the athletes work.
Make a Plan for Fundraising
Have a plan. Write it out and build it from the top down. Go down to the last detail on what is going to make the event happen.
- How much Money will you need? Make a long term plan. Don’t just do this 1 time. It takes doing these fundraising events several times to gain traction in a community and school. Develop a plan off that one fundraiser.
- Start Big. Overestimate and Build the Plan from the top down. How many volunteers and paid workers will it take to put on the event? How many sponsors? How many people will it take to make the money? You can always scale down but it is extremely hard to build bigger after starting.
- Seek Experts. Other people have been in your position before. Seek them out and ask them for advice.
- Overestimate. Overestimate the expenses. Overestimate the time spent on the project. Overestimate the people needed. If there is one thing that I have learned from running a business is that these projects cost twice as much as I plan for. There are always things that we don’t think about and emergencies that come up.
- Put the Plan to Action. This is the most important step! Understand that there will be things to happen to slow the project down.
Fit the Fundraiser to Your Needs
Below is some fundraising options that I have seen work for us at different communities and schools. We arranged them in order of easiest to hardest to plan for and pull off. Generally there are some trade offs to the time spent and money raised.
- Poker Night- This one doesn’t take much to pull off. Some advertising and some people to manage the groups can get things started if you do this right. Each person has $100 buy in. Have a place (like a lunch room) and people to help manage the groups, brackets, and a jackpot.
- Raffle- The raffle can be as informal or as formal as you want. It largely depends on how much money you are planning to spend.
- Silent Auction- A silent auction is just about the same work as a raffle with 1 big difference. You have to get as many sponsors to donate to the cause as possilbe. The good news is there are several options with this. You can even host an online silent auction if you know there is a lot of interest. Here in the south Alabama v Auburn tickets are what people come for.
- Lift A Thon- In the Lift A Thon the athletes do the most work. They raise the money and probably move the equipment. You can add to the fundraiser by giving incentives like the one with the most donated gets their spirit pack paid for.
- Golf Outing- Golf outings can be as easy as calling up people and getting a buy in of $500 per team. Have a give away at the end and maybe even a few sponsors for meals and holes and you got a good fundraiser for a weight program.
- Kick Off Obstacle Course or 5k- Everyone does kick off events. The strength coach can add a section in the kickoff like a obstacle course competition that athletes and everyone can compete in. Have a give away at the end for the top 3 of the event. Or even better get them into teams and have a team competition. The team buy in can be $100 and the give away can be a gift card to be donated by a local shop.
- Program Ads+Package Deals- Everyone does program ads BUT no one does a package deal to get on the website and even sponsor a game night. This is a great way to increase the price of ads at a school. Example- a normal ad in a program cost $250-$750 depending on the size of the ad. What if you came up with 3 packages- Gold Sponsorship for $2000 Field Sign+Full Page Ad+Game Day Sponsor (Giveaway), Silver $1500 Field Sign+ 1/2 page ad, and sponsor a pre game meal, Bronze Sponsorship for $1000 would be a 1/2 page in the program and sponsorship on the T-shirts for the team. There are several ideas for this that can raise thousands for a program. How do you do this for a strength and conditioning program? Get a sponsor for a weight room. There are several weight equipment people that would be happy to compete for their sponsorship in your weight room. What about a sports performance facility? I know coaches hate these places but there are some good ones out there that would be willing to pay for a chance to come in and talk to the team and have their ad put in the weight room.