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Sports programs cost money. Between costs of traveling to tournaments and purchasing uniforms and equipment, the expenses can add up very quickly.
And whether you’re an athlete, a school, a community sports team, a parent, or a coach, you’re likely no stranger to this reality.
When the money is a little tight, that’s exactly where fundraising comes in!
Effective fundraising is an invaluable skill that can really make or break your sports team.
In this article we share 23 fundraising ideas for sports and teams. There is something for everyone, from individual athletes to bigger community sports teams.
Here are some of the best sports fundraising ideas:
1. Partner with local businesses
Look to your community and find small, local businesses to sponsor you or your team. Partnering with a local business is a win-win situation!
You raise funds for yourself or your team, and the local business gets involved with the community and gains some good PR.
Furthermore, business partnerships have a multi-channel potential.
For example, if your club has a decent following on Instagram, you can harness that. For example, you can partner with a business by giving them regular shout-outs on Instagram as part of their sponsorship.
Plus, partnerships don’t always have to be about cash. Business partners and sponsors could donate in-kind products or services that they would usually charge for.
2. Field day
You can rarely go wrong with a field day fundraiser, especially on a nice summer day. Invite your community members for a day of games, good food, and a lot of fun!
Think of a variety of games that you know your audience will enjoy. Some examples include like dodgeball, tug-of-war, obstacle courses, and treasure hunts.
Charge an entry fee to raise money for your team. To earn some extra cash, sell concessions! Lemonade, chilled watermelon, and ice cream are sure to be a hit on a hot summer day.
Pro tip: Consider offering prizes to top performers. Healthy competition is a great motivator for participation!
3. Coach challenge
The coach challenge can be a very effective fundraiser for sports teams of all sizes.
First, set an ambitious, yet achievable fundraising goal. If this goal is met, the coach agrees to do some outrageous activity.
Maybe that’s doing the chicken dance, shaving their head, dressing like an alien — there are plenty of possibilities.
The more outrageous and fun the challenge, the more motivated supporters will be to donate and reach the fundraising goal!
In this video, Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg shows off his hilarious breakdancing skills for the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge.
4. Sponsor a sportsperson
A widely known principle in fundraising identifies the likelihood that we feel greater empathy, and an urge to help, in situations where tragedies are about a specific, identifiable individual, compared to situations where the victims are a larger, vaguer group of people (also known as identifiable victim effect).
Seek donors to sponsor a single sportsperson on the team instead of the whole team. It’s often easier for donors to relate to a single individual than a group.
5. Reach out to alumni
If you’re fundraising for a sports team, chances are you have worked with many athletes throughout the years.
Consider reaching out to these individuals via phone or email asking for financial support. Team sports often foster a strong sense of community and belonging, which means your alumni might be very keen to give back to the team that has given so much to them when they were younger.
Pro tip: Organize a wine and dine event with the alumni before a big game. Find a way to recognize your alumni. This will foster strong relationships and increase the chances that your alumni will choose to give.
6. Game day car wash
A simple and popular fundraiser, car washes are used by individuals and groups alike to raise funds for their cause.
You can organize a car wash as a stand alone event any time of the year. All you need are keen volunteers (your team members maybe), sponges, soap, water, and some good promotion!
Another option is to organize a car wash during a game day. The advantage of this is that you’ll already have a large audience coming to watch the game. All you need to do is set up signs around the car park and have volunteers collect small fees from those wanting their car washed.
Your volunteers will wash all the participating cars as their owners are watching the game. When the game is done, the owners will return to fresh and sparkly cars!
A fundraising classic, a walkathon is perfect for bringing together the wider community via an accessible active/sport activity.
While it’s true that walkathons can take a bit of planning, their fundraising potential is great!
Start planning your walkathon well in advance and go all in with the event promotion. Supporters register to participate in your walkathon and then collect pledges from people who will donate a certain amount per mile or kilometer walked.
Participants complete the walkathon, and your sports team receives the funds!
There are those jobs that everyone wishes someone else would do: mowing the grass, decluttering, gardening… And even if some people like doing them, everyone appreciates a break from tending to the garden or taking care of pets and children. To organize this fundraiser, advertise a “rent-a-team” initiative to your wider community.
Your team members can be hired to help with various tasks: gardening, decluttering, cleaning, childcare, and more, in exchange for a donation to the team.
To raise funds, set an affordable hourly fee. If some of your team members have other, special skills, put those on the list too (e.g. photography).
Make sure there’s an approved list of tasks/activities. For example, you don’t want someone to hire your team to clean very neglected properties or operate dangerous machinery. See if your team members’ families would be willing to share their cleaning supplies or get a sponsor to donate some so as to minimize costs.
9. “Junk” drive
Some people hold on to items that are worth some money because they don’t know what else to do with them. Others throw them away.
However, seemingly useless things like old phones, old computers, empty ink cartridges, and so on can be exchanged for money.
First, create a list of items you know you can exchange for money locally or nationally (do some research if you’re not familiar with the initiatives). Then, invite your community members to donate unwanted items.
Designate a drop-off spot and then get the word out about your fundraiser. Encourage team members, their families, and other community members to bring these items to the drop-off spot. This can be a very effective sports team fundraiser because you’re essentially asking for unwanted items and are potentially even doing your donors a favor by relieving them of needing to find a way to dispose of these items safely.
10. Push-up contest
Hold a push-up contest fundraiser that raises money by leveraging the human desire to win!
Find out who can (safely) do most push-ups in correct form. Or, you can also make it a push-up, pull-up, or sit-up contest.
You can also focus the contest on weightlifting, seeing who can safely lift the most weight by curling, deadlifting, or squatting. Make sure you have a spotter nearby in case you decide to do this one.
This fundraising idea is great for your sporty audience!
11. Restaurant or food truck partnership
This fundraising idea might be one of the easiest ones to organize. Contact a local restaurant or a food truck and discuss a partnership.
With a restaurant, you might agree to organize a dinner event at their location. You get to raise funds by receiving a percentage of the restaurant’s profits for the evening and the restaurant gains exposure and profit.
With food trucks, many of them will typically be happy to set up at game, especially if you anticipate a good crowd.
The key to this fundraiser is in promotion. Post eye-catching flyers around town and go big on social media. Design compelling visuals and pay to boost posts for local audiences.
12. Text-to-give campaign
The more donation options you give to your potential donors, the more likely it is that you’ll achieve your fundraising goal.
Add a text-to-give option to your donation methods.
First, choose a text-to-give software provider. Your provider will give you a unique phone number that donors will text that using the keyword chosen by your nonprofit.
Pro tip: Stay tuned with GiveForms updates. We’re releasing a text-to-give feature very soon!
13. Online donation form
You don’t always have to think of an “out-of-this-world” idea to raise funds for your team.
Sometimes, it takes only a straightforward ask and an online donation form. Online fundraising is very cost-efficient and has incredible fundraising potential.
Once you choose your online donation platform and set up an online donation form, you’ll be able to direct donors to it through a variety of methods: social media posts, direct mail, newsletters, etc.
To get informed and connect with others, new generations mostly head one place – online.
Therefore, a high-quality website will be vital to your fundraising success. Your website will be home to all your latest announcements and news. If you’re able to create a website that attracts many visitors, it becomes an asset for your club/team. You’ll be able to sell website space to businesses, who are always keen to get in front of as many people as possible.
14. Fitness classes
Fitness classes are a great sports team fundraiser because they capitalize on your team’s strength: the aptitude at sports and physical fitness.
Through fitness classes, your team members will put their formidable sports skills to good use.
Popular activities and subjects for fitness classes include:
Or any other sport your team is engaged in.
Partner with your local gym, park, or community center to find a suitable space for your fitness class or workshop.
There are plenty of ways in which to go about when organizing this fundraiser. For example, the class can be a one-off or part of a longer program.
Next comes the promotion. Get the word out to your network and start receiving those sign ups!
Charge a registration fee, then get started with raising funds!
15. Hang out with a celebrity
Here’s a sports fundraising idea with tons of potential! Bring your team together and brainstorm influential people in your sports that you could contact.
Make a list of several celebrities that fit the profile and then contact their public relations representatives to ask if they would be willing to attend your fundraiser.
You could hold an exclusive dinner or a chill hang out and have the celebrity speak about their career. You could even organize a sporting event of your own, such as a game or a tournament.
Reach out to local businesses too. Many will jump at the opportunity to sponsor an event with a celebrity guest.
Although it can seem like a long shot, this fundraiser is inexpensive to run! Furthermore, celebrities attract crowds, so you’re likely to raise more funds.
16. Healthy community potluck
A traditional fundraiser with a modern twist.
Being an athlete or part of a sports team, being active and healthy is a part of your lifestyle.
Therefore, organizing a community potluck where community members are encouraged to bring in healthy meals is very “on brand” for you.
Make a list of the dishes you’ll need, and let participants sign up to choose what to bring.
If several courses meal seems like too much to organize, scale back. A healthy dessert potluck or a smoothies and juices extravaganza will also be enticing.
17. Selling merchandise
Merchandise sales is another classic fundraiser for sports teams. And it can work wonderfully for teams of all sizes. Yet, for that to happen, merchandise items need to be selected carefully.
First of all, the merchandise needs to be attractive to your supporters and relevant to the sport. Secondly, it should be relevant to your geographic location and the time of the year. Finally, it should be priced so that it’s affordable to your average audience member, yet that you can still make profit.
You can sell a variety of items: t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, mugs, backpacks, pencils, notebooks, holiday cards, and more.
Pro tip: Nowadays, there are plenty of businesses out there that can handle the logistics for you, as long as you provide a design. Ask around in your community and see if there’s anyone who’s design-savvy and is willing to donate some of their time for a good cause.
18. Sports peer-to-peer fundraising
If possible, recruit your teamsters and their networks to raise money for your team by engaging in more long-term athletic fundraisers. This sports fundraising idea might be more appropriate for college sports teams.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to increase donations and reach out to a wider network, as it allows you access to people you wouldn’t otherwise reach.
Peer-to-peer fundraising lends itself to creativity, and you can really go the extra mile here, but some of the most popular peer-to-peer fundraisers include walking on foot from one town to another (or for a specific number of kilometers or miles), climbing a mountain, and biking across the country.
Your fundraisers can collect pledges and raise money for your team.
19. Silent auction
To organize a silent auction, which is an auction without an auctioneer present and where participants place their bids silently and anonymously, begin by procuring your silent auction items. To do this, you can ask local businesses to donate goods, services, or gift certificates.
Alternatively, you can ask each participant for a small donation and then build themed gift baskets.
There are plenty of interesting theme ideas. How about a pizza and movie night basket? A spa at home basket? A ‘couple’s night in’ basket? A crafts basket?
You can also procure other sport-related items and experiences to auction off:
- Signed sports gear and other memorabilia
- Rare baseball cards
- Private virtual sports lessons
- A chance to meet local sports celebrities on Zoom or Skype
- Virtual class passes (yoga, spin, gyms)
- Virtual private trainer for 6 months/1 year
- Opportunity to be a sportscaster for a day
The auction items that typically receive the most bid activity appeal to donors’ needs or interests, are well-priced, and are unique or special in some way.
Next, set aside time for people to bid. Each participant writes the amount they’re willing to pay for each item or basket.
Announce winning bids at the end.
20. Virtual yard sale
Spring is coming, which means many of us are starting to declutter and clean our homes.
This can be a great opportunity to raise some money for your sports team!
Invite your community members to donate items that they no longer use or need. Your audience gets to do a proper clean-out of their homes and garages, and you get to raise money for your club or team.
You could let your participants sell it online themselves on sites like Gumtree or set up a virtual marketplace for the whole team.
21. Zoom trivia night
One for the adults amongst your supporters, you can combine your trivia night with a virtual wine tasting.
This way, your supporters can enjoy a few glasses of wine or beer while raising some money for your sports team.
You can come up with your own quiz questions and then run the Trivia night on Zoom, or you can try out a quiz platform. Anything can be the theme, but a sports-related quiz might be the best option for you.
Kahoot, for example, hosts a large number of ready-made quizzes and allows you to make your own on a template too. Players (up to 10 with the free membership) download the app, input the game pin code and play the quiz.
To raise funds, charge each participant or a participating team a fee.
#GivingTuesday is a giving campaign that happens every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday (on November 30 in 2021).
It kicks off the season of giving for nonprofits and generates goodwill and support for different causes, including sports teams.
Plugging into Giving Tuesday is a fantastic way to bring in more donations for your sports team, as you already have access to many resources (e.g. visuals, messaging, etc.) and will capitalize on the momentum of the campaign.
Come up with a simple fundraising campaign for Giving Tuesday and share about it on social media and in your e-newsletter.
23. Kick a negative habit
A fundraising promoting maintaining healthy habits is perfect for sports fundraising. Encourage your supporters to donate the money they would normally spend on coffee, soda, or sugary snacks.
Decide on the duration of the challenge and then share motivational messages on your social media accounts to keep inspiring the participants.
Your supporters can donate this money online, making this a perfect pandemic-friendly fundraiser.
Over to you
From paying for equipment to paying for tournaments, athletes and sports teams often need to resort to funds raised from their own community.
Use these 23 sports fundraising ideas to craft a compelling and effective fundraising strategy for your sports team.
GiveForms can help your sports team raise funds by helping you seamlessly accept donations online. Your website visitors can donate using a credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, or bank transfers. With a focus on intuitive, human-centered design, GiveForms goal is to help you increase your online donations.
When you use GiveForms, you gain access to a plethora of nonprofit-specific benefits:
- A customizable donation page optimized for mobile
- Embeddable donation forms directly on your website
- Donor dashboard to help you search, view and export your donations
- Monthly recurring donations and social sharing options
- And more!