Economics

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Fortnight Fundraisers? New Strategies for Boosting the Bottom Line

3 Apr, 2019

By: Michael Popke

Forced to face some hard economic realities, many sports teams and organizations — ranging from youth basketball clubs to equine groups — are finding new and innovative ways to cover costs associated with team travel, hosting events or even just achieving success.

Case in point: Kaiser High School football players in Fontana, Calif., are fundraising to pay for the championship rings that commemorate their runner-up status in the California Interscholastic Federation’s 3-A state championship game in December. Strategies include selling tickets to an Inland Empire 66ers minor league baseball game, sponsoring a pancake breakfast at an area Applebee’s® Neighborhood Grill + Bar, selling banners for local businesses to advertise on a fence outside of the school, marketing socks emblazoned with the school’s football logo and even setting up a GoFundMe page. “Unlike other schools in Southern California that asked each student-athlete to pay for the ring they earned, Kaiser has a tradition of fundraising to cover the cost of the rings,” Kaiser head coach Bill Cardosi told local reporters. “We really need the support of the community of Fontana. Eighty-six percent of our students at Kaiser are on free and reduced lunch, and having them pay for rings would be a significant financial burden on the student-athletes’ families.”

Here are three more intriguing fundraising examples:

  • A youth basketball team and a youth baseball team in Lewis County, W.Va., hosted Fortnite fundraisers over two weekends in February during which participants could compete online and submit their scores. Proceeds were expected to go toward travel expenses and hosting a local tournament.
  • In an attempt to bring, for the first time ever, a Cowboy Dressage show to Manitoba in June, a group of equestrian enthusiasts hosted a horse-themed paint night in March. All of the spots for the event filled up quickly, officials say, and a local artist led the evening’s festivities.
  • After appealing to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo regarding his state travel ban to North Carolina — implemented in 2016 in response to that state’s controversial proposed “bathroom bill” — the  State University of New York College at Geneseo’s swimming and diving team received permission from the governor’s office to attend the NCAA Division III championships at the Greensboro (N.C.) Aquatic Center from March 20-23. But they needed to start a GoFundMe page to cover travel and lodging costs associated with the Blue Wave’s 10 qualifying athletes, who were mandated to stay at lodging in neighboring Virginia and commute more than an hour to the competition every day. With a goal of raising $4,000, the team raised more than $7,200 from 98 people in 10 days. Then, because the competition is a state-sponsored event, “Cuomo stated that the athletes would be unable to stay in housing purchased using private funds (such as these raised),” according to an update on the GoFundMe page. The team planned to either refund the money raised or put it toward “purchasing better food options while in North Carolina as well as improving any other experiences not blocked by the ban.”

The free GoFundMe social fundraising platform has helped make sports-related fundraising efforts a lot easier than they used to be, especially after launching its GoFundMe Team Fundraising arm last year — which allows groups to collectively raise money for a single effort.

“The idea with GoFundMe’s team product is that the organization that is raising the money can create the main repository, and then link up individuals to that anchor so that they can collect contributions directly,” according to a press release issued by GoFundMe at the time. “Then those contributions can all feed into the main goal as they go along, and campaign leaders can run leaderboards to show how they are progressing.” 

“Our goal is to make fundraising faster, easier and more efficient for anyone looking to raise money, whether an individual, nonprofit or team,” Rob Solomon, CEO of GoFundMe, said in a statement.

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