Ohio University has an eye-opening report on a trend that’s familiar to millions of parents across the United States: Out-of-pocket high school athletics costs are increasing rapidly.
If you’re committed to doing your part to helping your kids realize their athletic dreams, you need to put your money where your mouth is. (Or, more accurately, where their uniforms, equipment, training, and travel are.)
But your family can’t singlehandedly support your kid’s team. Nor, in many cases, can the combined resources of other team parents. If you want your teen to have the best experience possible, you’ll invariably need to raise money outside your immediate circle.
Start with these five proven fundraising ideas:
1. Hold a Car Wash
There’s no better way to spend a hot, sunny day than hand-washing your friends’ and neighbors’ rides for a good cause.
If your teen’s team is active during the fall, a late-summer car wash is a perfect way to kick off his or her season on the right foot. WikiHow has a great primer on pulling off a successful car wash fundraiser. Remember, you’ll want to keep your fees competitive with actual for-profit car washes in town. Just crunch the numbers beforehand and make sure you’ll have enough left over after accounting for expenses.
2. Entice Donors With Gift Cards
One of the best ways to get prospective fundraisers in the door is to entice them with goodies for which they’d have no problem paying full price anyway.
According to fundraising experts at ABC Fundraising®, using gift or discount cards issued by name brands like Domino’s and Family Dollar can dramatically increase your take. If you need to meet an ambitious fundraising target on an aggressive timetable, you’ll want to look seriously at a scalable, brand-driven approach.
3. Sell Healthy Snacks and Treats
Everyone likes snacks. Why not use them to supplement your team’s fundraising campaign?
Hawking individually wrapped or bulk-boxed treats is a great way to build bridges with fellow community members. Drum up interest by advertising your campaign on community boards and local social media channels beforehand. If you’re going door-to-door or staking out in a public place, make sure you notify the proper authorities and pull any necessary permits too.
4. Run a Crowdfunding Campaign
Crowdfunding campaigns are high-tech, high-ROI option for team parents seeking support well outside their stomping grounds. Platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe can dramatically increase your fundraising reach, though they’re not exactly plug-and-play. Before launching your campaign, read up on the components of a successful crowdfunding effort and gather input from fellow team boosters who’ve trod this path before.
5. Hold a Restaurant Fundraiser
Closer to home, a restaurant fundraiser is a great way to kick off or wind down your season. Book the party room at your favorite spot in town (or rent the whole place out) and invite fellow parents, coaches, school staff, fans, and anyone else you think might be willing to support your team. You can charge a flat entrance fee, run an auction before or after the main course, encourage supporters to donate individually as they’re able, or all three.
The Fundraising Fun Never Stops
These aren’t the only great fundraising ideas that may or may not be appropriate for your teen’s team. There are plenty more tried-and-true options where these came from, not to mention new and exciting ones dreamed up by you and your team.