Boost’ Your Fundraising

Booster clubs can be the answer to rais­ing funds for those extras” that aren’t in the budget.

Boost’ Your Fundraising

Booster clubs can be the answer to rais­ing funds for those extras” that aren’t in the budget.

Fundraising for ath­let­ics has become the norm as school dis­tricts become more cash-strapped and the costs of run­ning qual­i­ty pro­grams con­tin­ue to rise. 

In most cas­es, dis­tricts will pro­vide the basics needs for a pro­gram: coach­ing stipends, equipment/​supplies, uni­forms, offi­cials and trans­porta­tion. Notice that doesn’t include extras like trav­el gear, team din­ners, post-game snacks (usu­al­ly on long rides), extra equip­ment for the team and/​or fields, team bond­ing trips and end of sea­son banquets. 

Good thing there are so many dif­fer­ent ways to raise funds. Let’s take a look at one in par­tic­u­lar — boosters. 

The Impact of Booster Clubs

About 15 years ago, I worked in a dis­trict with sig­nif­i­cant bud­get issues. The school depart­ment had to elim­i­nate the entire ath­let­ic program’s bud­get. Many peo­ple from the com­mu­ni­ty got togeth­er, lead by Mike Eruzione, for­mer 1980 U.S. Olympic hock­ey team cap­tain (who scored the win­ning goal against the Russians). They fundraised near­ly $40,000 in one night by ask­ing local busi­ness own­ers to make $5,000 dona­tion com­mit­ments. This saved sports for the school year. 

After that, they cre­at­ed a foun­da­tion, which is still work­ing today to enhance ath­let­ic and oth­er co-cur­ric­u­lars at the school. This is one group that sup­ports every­one. They hold var­i­ous fundrais­ers through­out the year, like The Great Reunion”, which is for all class­es that have grad­u­at­ed from the school, and an annu­al grant to teams that need fund­ing for a spe­cial project.

Obviously this kind of suc­cess won’t hap­pen on its own. There are a few steps every ath­let­ic direc­tor needs to take first.

How to Get Started

Creating a boost­er group or foun­da­tion for your pro­gram can be as sim­ple or as detailed as you wish. I’ve seen the entire spec­trum — from a small group of two or three parents/​guardians orga­niz­ing team din­ners and small fundrais­ers, to large boost­er groups with a board of direc­tors and cer­ti­fied 501©3 (National Non-Profit Status).

No mat­ter what, the first step is for you, the school’s ath­let­ic direc­tor, to find par­ents that you trust to help get the orga­ni­za­tion start­ed. You don’t want to try and do it alone. Locate some go-get­ter par­ents, guardians and/​or com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to facil­i­tate the creation. 

The next step is to check with your school’s super­in­ten­dent or finance office to ensure you’re fol­low­ing dis­trict pro­to­col when start­ing a boost­er club. Some dis­tricts have strict rules about fundrais­ing and how accounts must be han­dled. (Knowing a parent/​guardian who’s a lawyer and will­ing to work pro bono to cre­ate a non-prof­it 501(c3) sta­tus would be a bonus!)

Once you have vol­un­teers, cre­ate a mis­sion state­ment to inform future stake­hold­ers of your fundrais­ing goals. Who will the fund­ing ben­e­fit? How much mon­ey are you seek­ing? Give spe­cif­ic exam­ples of projects you plan to work on. 

Organize the Details

Now comes the nit­ty-grit­ty deci­sions. Will you have dif­fer­ent boost­er groups for each sport? You have to weigh the pros and cons. Sport-spe­cif­ic boost­er clubs would allow each one to focus more on their indi­vid­ual pro­gram, rather than every­one. Your fundrais­ing goal would prob­a­bly be low­er and more achiev­able, plus peo­ple are usu­al­ly more com­mit­ted to a spe­cif­ic need. 

But it becomes more com­pli­cat­ed to ensure all Title IX rules are being fol­lowed, and that there’s equi­ty between the programs. 

And what about gen­ders for each sport? In my cur­rent dis­trict, there are dif­fer­ent boost­er groups for each sport, but those groups work togeth­er for both the boys’ and girls’ pro­grams. For exam­ple, our soc­cer boost­ers are a group of parents/​guardians that give equal fund­ing to both pro­grams — every­one gets the same ben­e­fits. This also helps every­one see the pro­grams as one sport instead of two dif­fer­ent units. It’s sim­i­lar for oth­er sports like bas­ket­ball and lacrosse as well. Both teams are sup­port­ed by one group. 

As an AD, this is espe­cial­ly nice because I know we have equi­ty between the pro­grams. It’s worked out well for us.

Once your boost­er club is up and run­ning with a ded­i­cat­ed group of indi­vid­u­als, it’s time to start your first project and fundrais­er.

James Coffey attend­ed Endicott College in Beverly, MA where he got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sport Management. He has spend the last four­teen years as an ath­let­ic direc­tor at three dif­fer­ent high schools. Coffey was named the Massachusetts Secondary School District A Athletic Director of the Year in 2012. He has also spoke about the pos­i­tive effects of social media on ath­let­ics at sev­er­al New England conferences.