Effective fundraising for sporting clubs

Fundraising is a real necessity for the majority of sporting clubs.  Fees, if they are to be kept affordable (and as community sporting organisations, that’s vitally important) only go some of the way to paying for all the expenses incurred in running a club. If you want to fund improvements, then that requires a real effort to build the bank balance you need.

Some clubs, football clubs in particular, raise a lot of money by having a bar. The problem with relying on alcohol sales to fund your club is that you run the risk of becoming a drinking club rather than a sporting club.

A couple of years ago SALT dealt with a club who like many, had a poor reputation and strong drinking culture. It took a previous captain losing their best friend to a drug overdose to spark action when it came to reversing this culture of drugs and alcohol use within the club. After 14 sessions with SALT over two years, the club reduced bar sales by $20,000 and yet increased their yearly revenue by $30,000 thanks to a clear focus on fundraising and alternative revenue solutions.

Why tell this story? After a financially difficult 2020 for sporting clubs, it is going to be easy to look to the “quick fixes” of fundraising in bar sales and pokies as we return. Whilst these may temporarily slow the bleeding, the long term cultural impact can far outweigh the immediate benefit.

There are other effective ways of raising the funds you need. It helps if you have a goal that you can publicise (new equipment, female change rooms, court upgrade etc) as people are more generous when they know what exactly they are donating money for rather than general fundraising.

Let’s have a look at some of the ways your club can raise funds.

Events

Having events throughout the year is important for the club culture and it does help that, if well run, they raise money.  But they are very reliant on the hard work of committee members and then the support of your club members in attending.  One big event a year is a great idea, interspersed with a couple of smaller fundraisers such as trivia nights, karaoke, car rallies, car wash etc..

Raffles are a great way of raising money if you can convince someone to provide a fantastic prize in return for the advertising they receive.  And of course, match day sausages sizzles, canteen sales etc continue throughout the season to add small amounts to the coffers.

Grants

There is money available for sporting clubs – the trick is to find it.  Best approach is to work with your local state member of parliament – they often know obscure places where money can be sourced.  The Sports and Recreation department website of your State Government will also point you in the right direction.

The Bendigo Bank is well known for supporting local communities and providing funds to sporting clubs who have defined projects in the work.

Sponsorship

This is probably the most lucrative opportunity for sporting clubs, but it needs to be well managed and have formal agreements around it.

Local businesses will pay to have access to your club members and supporters.  But it needs to be a fair, two-way deal.  While signage on the grounds is fine, it really is just static advertising, it’s not the sort of opportunity that businesses will pay good sums for.  A savvy business will want the opportunity to get in front of your supporter base to promote their product and to network. A smarter club will negotiate to get revenue from every business opportunity that the club provides that business.  For instance, if a real estate agent gets a property to sell from one of your club members, then they should provide you with an agreed reward for the business you have pushed their way.

Think outside the box when offering opportunities to local businesses.  For instance, the change rooms are painted by a local painting firm at a significant discount to the club. In return you put a sign on the wall that advertises and recommends them. Similarly, for landscaping, plumbing etc.

It’s important that your formal agreement outlines what your sponsor will get in return for their donations so that there are no disputes.  Have a committee member responsible for ensuring that what is promised is delivered, from both sides.

As protection for the club, have a clause that allows you to withdraw from the sponsorship with a period of notice.  This will protect you if there is a reputational issue with the sponsor.

Fundraising is part and parcel of a sporting club’s existence, but with some research and application, you can set your club up a good revenue stream and build your funds for those vital improvements that will attract more members.

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