I have fond memories of high school football, but there’s one particular instance that stands out for being quite the opposite.
Each year, at the end of our first preseason practice, coach would gather the team. “Now, everyone raise your right hand,” he’d say with a sly grin. “Thank you. You’ve just volunteered to participate in this year’s hoagie sale!” A collective groan echoed throughout the huddle.
The sandwich sale was one of our Booster Club’s biggest annual fundraisers. It was a necessary evil in the minds of our coaches, but just plain evil in the minds of us players. To this day, I still shutter at the thought of haphazardly slapping together sandwiches in post-practice assembly lines.
Does this reaction sound familiar? Fundraising to players is like paying taxes to parents – you’re forced to do it every year and it’s a burden. But it doesn’t have to be this way (at least with fundraising). You can get your players excited about fundraisers, which matters because fundraisers with proactive player participation are more profitable than those with little or no player engagement. Donors are more likely to give, and give more, if the ask is coming from an excited youth from their community.
Here are some ways to get your players pumped about fundraising:
Set attainable individual goals. Goal-setting is important in sports and fundraising isn’t any different. By giving players goals, you’ll tap into their competitive spirit – unless the goals are unattainable. You would never ask your players to bench press 700 pounds. The same holds true for fundraising.
State a specific purpose. It’s not enough for players to know that the fundraiser is supporting your program. Share with them exactly what the funds will buy, like new uniforms or a team trip. Allowing them to visualize the end goal will be a motivator. And even if the goal isn’t flashy (i.e. participation costs or umpire fees), it’s critical to communicate why it’s important to your program and therefore important to them.
Leverage on-field performance. Imagine your players’ excitement if their game-day performance was actually generating team funds. Set up a performance-based fundraiser where supporters pledge donations for achieving selected team-level statistics. Knowing that each home run hit or touchdown scored is earning dollars for their program will motivate your players to share your campaign.
Publicize progress. Nothing motivates an athlete more than being outperformed by an opponent. Harness this competitive spirit by creating fundraising rankings among your players. Utilize poster boards and social media, highlighting top fundraisers throughout your campaign. And once you reach your goal, congratulate the entire team publicly.
Reward with swag. All athletes are motivated by swag (t-shirts, bags, etc., for you less-hip readers). The more exclusive the swag, the more motivated the athlete is to obtain it. Create custom apparel for your players as rewards for hitting targets – the boosted results will far outweigh the minimal cost of producing the gear.
Active player participation is key to a successful fundraiser, and if you implement these tips into your campaigns, you’ll never hear fundraising groans again.
Ryan Gmerek is the General Manager at PLEDGE IT, the first performance based fundraising website. PLEDGE IT empowers athletes and coaches to raise money for their team or charity, through their gameday performance..