Top Five Team Fundraising Ideas for Youth Sports Teams
Youth sports are expensive! I recently shared some of my favorite ideas in a blog post about how parents can save money to lower overall costs. But sometimes, outside of reducing costs for your family, there is a need to fundraise as a team. Whether you want to replace the team jerseys, need new equipment, or want to do an out-of-town tournament, team fundraising can be an effective way to help accomplish your goals.
There are several go-to fundraising ideas you have probably either participated in or supported at some point: crowdfunding campaigns, bake sales, restaurant nights, online auctions or raffles, and local sponsorships, to name a few. You can easily search those ideas online for more information, but if your team wants to spice it up a bit and try something more fun or out-of-the-box, here are my top five unique fundraising ideas.
1. Organize a Sports Tournament or Jamboree:
Every year, two local high school boys and girls soccer teams in my area play each other in what’s been dubbed “The Kanan Cup”, named after a major street that runs through our city. It’s a social event for both schools, with a huge draw that elevates the excitement and rivalry each year. But it also raises money. Depending on your venue and the size of your club, you can host a large-scale tournament or a smaller and less official version – a jamboree or, in my example, a ‘cup.’ You can charge entrance fees for the teams, parking, and admission fees. You can also earn money by selling food, beverages, and merchandise. Utilize athletes and parents to help run the event and to donate food and drinks. This can be a big undertaking, but if someone is willing to spearhead it, it can become a yearly tradition that is not just a fundraiser but a community event that everyone looks forward to..
2. Sell Custom Apparel:
Custom apparel such as t-shirts, hoodies, and hats is a great way to raise funds and show team spirit, get behind a cause, or create energy behind something special happening on the team. This ‘special’ merchandise can support causes, like Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, where you create a ‘special’ pink look using your team or club’s logo or a holiday version. It can be based on a saying or slogan for the team.
I bought a cool shirt to support my friend’ s daughter’ s lacrosse team all it said was, “1 team, 1 mission.” It was in simple black font on a white tee shirt. It was something their coach had been saying to the girls all year and had become their team rallying cry. They sold them to the athletes, parents, family, and friends. This became a keepsake and memory of a great year, even though they didn’t win it all. If printing shirts is too expensive, you could do wristbands. I often talk about ‘aversion therapy’ for sports parents, snapping a rubber band on your wrist while watching your kids play to keep you from yelling or stopping negative thinking or reactions. You could customize bands with your team name or logo and sell them to parents as they enter the games or online.
3. Host Family-Friendly Events:
Create a fun and community-building event where families can participate. We once played footgolf with my daughter’s soccer team. The golf course donated the day, parents, friends, and family paid to participate, and a few families provided a barbecue afterward. Other ideas include a pickleball tournament, a fun, parent-friendly version of the sport the child plays, kickball, whiffle ball, or old-school games like tag and capture the flag. Or, to simplify it, host a game day barbeque. Burgers and hot dogs are perfect for bringing your team and families together. Charge entry fees or take donations. This is an ideal fundraiser if you plan to hold it on the day of a match. Your team members can effectively solicit family members, friends, and guests to come around to join the party. You can also include some fun games and activities to make it an even more memorable day.
4. Athlete Challenge:
Raise money for your team and provide additional practice opportunities for your members by hosting a hit-a-thon or shoot-a-thon! Contributors pick a player to support and pledge to donate a fixed amount for every hit, goal, or basket they make. Hit-a-thons and shoot-a-thons are excellent sports fundraisers because you can tailor them to any sport, from baseball, soccer, and basketball to swim and track, where team members raise money for each lap they swim or run. For best results, have your players set up and share online donation pages with their friends, family, and social media connections to collect pledges ahead of the event. Make it competitive by tracking each member’s fundraising progress and awarding a special prize to the team member who raises the most in donations!
5. Coach/Teacher Talent Competition:
Your coaches are pros when it comes to leading their teams to victory, but do they also have other talents they’d like to show? A coach talent show is a fun (often funny) way to raise money for a school’s athletic program or a youth sports league. Choose a free venue like a park or the school cafeteria, or a parent can host. Audience members make donations to the program or club in exchange for admission. You can also charge for food you sell at the event that parents donate. And because a coach or teacher talent show requires multiple coaches to put on the best show, it’s a great fundraiser to raise money for numerous youth sports teams at once.
Additionally, you could have a post-show party featuring ‘pie’ your coach or duct tape your coach to the wall. Kids (and their parents!) will pay top dollar to participate. It is also a great team-building event, where the kids see their coaches in a new way, and everyone can get a good laugh. When my kids were in elementary school, our principal let us make her into a human ice cream sundae for a fundraiser. We raised a ton of money as families paid for ice cream scoops, whipped cream, sprinkles, and, YES, chocolate sauce to pour on our brave principal.