Youth Football Fundraising – Yeach!

Fundraising For Youth Football

Ok, you’ve thrown up because you’ve heard the dreaded word all youth football coaches hate, fundraising. Unfortunately some of us youth football coaches are required to participate and sometimes even run fundraising projects. It’s probably the thing most of us detest the most about coaching youth football.

Youth football costs a lot of money to run, far more than anyone that isn’t involved in the day to day operations would care to know. There is equipment, insurance, field rentals, film and video, advertising, printing, phone, web, awards, officials and food just for starters.

There are always kids that can’t afford to play, so scholarships are a cost to you as well. If you are planning to play in an out of state tournament, that it an entire different universe. Most of the trips we’ve taken our kids on have cost an average of $25,000 per team, transportation, hotel and food add up real quick even if you do it on the cheap. So what I’m getting at is fundraising is a necessary evil for programs and an absolute necessity for teams that are traveling.

This year at the Pop Warner and AYF National Championships in Florida, I interviewed about 70 youth coaches and asked them what were the top three challenges their team faced this year in their quest to get to Florida. Over 90% of the coaches put fundraising in their top three. In fact there were teams and kids that were left behind because they couldn’t afford to make the trip. Needless to say fundraising is not an isolated problem, it is something we all struggle with.

When looking at fundraising the consensus is we all want something that doesn’t require a ton of work, is short in duration and pays well. As the Founder and President of two different Organizations I can tell you we tried them all, some worked pretty well, others were real bombs. How many of you have had the air conditioning go out in your office on a 90 degree day and see your pallet of just arrived chocolate candy bars melt into a gooey mess? How many of you have had a sticky fingered team mom run off with all the raffle money? How may of you have had kids not turn in money because a big brother stole if from Junior? How many of you have had adults call your office and wonder where their cheese cakes they ordered and paid for haven’t arrived two months after you sent the kids out with them on the delivery blitz?

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Here are a few ideas that worked well from some of our readers:

Kids buying game jerseys. The jersey costs $20 with the name on the back, you sell them for $75, netting you $55 per jersey. You raise about $1,250 per team.

Kroger affinity program. A Kroger in the Cincinnati area offers an affinity program. You load dollars into your Kroger card and 2% of your purchases go to your program. One team I know raised over $3,000 with it.

PDP- They do a letter writing campaign for you, nothing to sell, no deliveries to make, no collections to worry about, pretty pain free.

Discount Cards. Most discount card programs have nice discounts for 20% off or buy one get one at local eateries and service companies. The cards usually cost $10 or $20 with the organization keeping half the funds. Most of these companies will allow you to put your team name, picture and schedule on the cards. One program I know raised over $8,500 with it.

Not so great programs, while these companies and programs may be fantastic and work for many, they weren’t my cup of tea or for my readers.

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Frozen cookie dough. Getting the money up front and then getting these tubs of frozen cookie dough out to all of the players and customers was a nightmare. I still have bad dreams about that year and it happened way back in 2000.

Candles- Having boys and coaches selling candles for $20 a pop went over like a lead balloon.

Car Washes- While HUGE event car washes where you rent the bays of a big car wash might work for some to raise $1,000- $1,500, most of the time the payoff is pretty small for a days work.

For me I don’t feel comfortable sending kids out to sell something grandma really doesn’t need, why not just ask for donations instead? I’m a big fan of affinity type programs where mom and dad are already spending the money on a necessity while the organization benefits, like the Kroger program. Same goes for the discount cards, they pay for themselves and include some information on your program that stays right in the wallet of your supporter.

If you have players in need and want to build your numbers, start thinking about fundraising well before the season starts. If you are planning on an out of town trip, you better start planning for it now, it’s pretty tough to raise $25,000 in a week or two or even a month or two once the season starts.

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by Dave Cisar