Running a successful sports club is a complicated business. Part art, part science, it takes clever management to pull together the different strands of a club – paying members, a set fixtures list, and future aspirations for league domination. You may already have a clear set of goals, and a steady income, but to really catapult your club into the big leagues, you’re going to need to think beyond the basic structures, especially when it comes to fundraising.
Every club needs cash injections to help raise their game. Pitch and buildings maintenance gets expensive, and you always wonder how much further your team could push itself with better equipment and facilities. In this article, we’ll give you nine simple steps to make the most of your fundraising capabilities, to really help you ensure your team comes out top.
Step 1: Work to a business model
Treat fundraising at your club as a business, and you’ll be able to maximise revenue opportunities and keep costs under control. Your fundraising should form part of your ongoing business plan for the club. There are lots of business planning tools you can use to get you started. Here are some additional ways to increase your club’s financial resources:
- Consider sponsorship of your team, or top players
- Apply for a development loan – lots of sporting organisations will consider applications for funding for bigger items in your club. Sport England also run a grant scheme to support everything from strategic funding to football park hubs
- Set up an online club merchandise shop
- Don’t forget that CASCs have tax exemptions for sports clubs – for more information go to https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-cascs
Step 2: Power up your Governing Body!
Your governing body is the club’s fundraising powerhouse, and it needs to be in good working order. Nothing happens without their commitment, and good nature, so it’s important to have everyone onside. Here’s how:
- Team spirit. Do you have a good sense of community, and commitment to the same goals? It might be worth having a social, just for the committee, so that when you next meet more formally, there’s a sense of unity that will help things go more smoothly. In fact, if you’re giving up your spare time to plan your fundraising, it might as well be enjoyable, so take every opportunity to make meetings sociable.
- Roles and responsibilities. It’s vital to successful fundraising that everyone knows who’s responsible for what. Select your decision-makers carefully – they should be liked, respected, and able to make decisions when the rest of the group can’t agree.
- Keep talking. To make sure everyone’s in the loop between meetings, set up a simple communication method that you all trust. Sure, pass along gems over a beer at the club, but try to keep an up to date action list so everyone knows what’s going on. You could use MailChimp for email updates, or you may choose to stay in touch with a simple WhatsApp or Facebook group. You can also use these to share ideas and photos of fun events you’ve run at the club.
- Be open. While a team spirit is important, it’s vital to avoid being seen as exclusive. Ultimately, you need the support of the whole club to make a success of a fundraising event, from players, to members and supporters. Why not organise an open invite evening for drinks and a fundraising update? A quick, fun presentation on the latest initiatives, and an opportunity to feed back ideas for future events could be just the thing to get everyone involved.
Step 3: Plan to be organised
Okay, so it’s not the most exciting part of fundraising, but good planning is fundamental to the success of your entire fundraising calendar. And actually, if you’ve followed step 2, planning can be good fun – coming up with big ideas and quirky ways to raise money. Get it all in the calendar at the beginning of the year, then work out what needs to be done to make it happen. A good rule of thumb is to plan one big event for every five small initiatives – that way you’ll never face donor fatigue, and you’ll have something running all year.
Step 4: Build your network
Now you’ve put together a fantastic fundraising plan, you need to leverage your networks to make sure people engage, come along to events, and donate.
Your ‘networks’ in a sports club include everyone connected with the club: players and their families, members, and paying customers at your fixtures. And don’t stop there. The local community around the club is as much part of your audience as the people who use the club regularly, and they have the potential to contribute to a much bigger fundraising pot.
So how do you expand your network?
- There will always be a set of regulars who will come to you to get involved. Use these people to spread the word elsewhere in the club, and to champion your cause in the local community. That’s how you’ll start to get newcomers to your events, and grow your fundraising capacity.
- Get people involved from the outset. Every time you sign up a new member or supporter, have a strategy for communicating your fundraising plans. Find a way to welcome them to their first event and they’ll probably be enthusiastic about joining in with successive fundraisers.
- Don’t forget the veterans though! After years of playing a major part in the club, your retired athletes and their families won’t want to cut ties, so make sure to keep them up to date with activities you’re running.
- Think about collaborations with other clubs. Access to their members means access to their connections too. Always think beyond the people you know, to the people they
- Above all, communication is key. You want to get to the members who aren’t actively engaged and bring them into the heart of the club, for the sake of continued membership fees, as well as their fundraising potential. Think about a newsletter, with pictures, and quotes from members about recent events, and why the club’s fundraising is important.
Step 5. Maximise existing potential
Think about it. You have quite literally hundreds of members and supporters on hand, as well as your local community. So how can you harness this, and make it work for you?
- Involve the players. This is always a winner. Who better to champion the cause with members and the local community, than someone who is so invested in the club’s success? Ask them to drum up support, spread the word, or even be the main attraction of your summer fundraiser’s gunge tank!
- The power of thank you. Whatever people do, whether it’s baking cakes, wearing silly outfits, or volunteering to run the bar at an event, keep saying thank you, and ‘we couldn’t have done this without you.’ You’ll soon see commitment start to grow. Why not keep a database of people who’ve helped, or come along to an event previously? It’s an easy way to remember who volunteered for what last time, so you know who to approach for the next event.
- Get the context right. The best fundraising ideas suit your surroundings, precisely because they fit in with, and involve the locals. So if there’s a popular event in your village or town, get involved as a club, so that people see you as an important part of the community, and want to support your future fundraising initiatives
Step 6: Get your fundraising maths right
Make sure you budget for each event during the planning stages. It helps to have a goal, so decide at the outset what you want to do with the money you raise, work out how much it will cost, and set that as your target. Next, work out how much you need to spend on your fundraiser, and what you’ll need to charge in order to both cover costs, and smash your target.
It helps to think of it all in cash terms. Estimate who you think will join in. If each member of the club attends half of the events, and you make £10 profit per member, per event, will you reach your target? If not, reconsider your annual plan of ideas. Stage a bigger, unmissable event, or spread your reach wider into the community to ensure more attendees.
Step 7: Tell your story well
You know what drives you to fundraise. The trick is to make other people understand why too, or better still, to make them feel the same urge to solve things as you do. Telling the story of your fundraising goal is crucial to getting people on board and contributing. As an example, which of these grabs your attention the most?
- “Please would you give money to the club?”
- “There are some things we need at the club – would you give money to help us?”
- “The old changing rooms are dilapidated and unhygienic, and the showers run cold. We need £4000 to refurbish them for our players – would you buy some raffle tickets to help us raise the money?”
The latter is honest, transparent and emotive – far more likely to get people donating and involved. Download our key messages guide to help you get started, or check out some of our favourite fundraising messages for sports clubs.
Step 8. Get online
We know that for many, setting up and maintaining an online presence for the club’s fundraising campaign can be daunting. But it needn’t be, and once you get started, you’ll find it simple to post a few updates when it matters. If you want to know all the ins and outs of fundraising online, read our comprehensive guide, but if you just want to know where the start, try our quick set up tips:
- It makes sense for one person to manage your social media accounts. That way they can develop an online personality for the club, and engage with consistency. There’s bound to be someone with tech skills, so seek them out and get them on the case!
- Being online can mean a number of things – a page on your website, an online ticket and giving facility, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Make the most of the online tools that suit your club, and your abilities. You might even create a club video to make people smile and want to share. Read our tips for viral videos for more on how to use video effectively.
- To simplify things, it can hep to use a scheduler such as Hootsuite – it allows you to create your posts at a time that suits you, and publishes them for you at the best moment to get in front of your audience. It also lets you manage all your social media accounts from one place. Free example
- Make it look good! People scan through the things they see online very quickly, so you need eye-catching visuals to make them stop and read. Canva is a free-to-use online design program that will help you produce beautiful posters and creative visuals for social media accounts. Using these will add an all-important touch of professionalism that’ll get your events noticed.
Step 9: Remember that it’s not what you do – it’s how you do it
You won’t be surprised to know that most clubs are doing the same fundraisers as you – raffles, auctions, fun days. And that’s fine! In fact, it pays to keep repeating the things that you know will work. If a regular prize draw is popular in your club, think of ways to make it even bigger. The difference between the okay fundraisers, and the fantastic events is the energy you put into it, from start to finish. Can you widen it out to the whole community, or raise the stakes in prize value? The clubs we know that have the most success with their fundraising are those who plan well, communicate effectively, and put on a great show. Go the extra mile, and you’ll create a fundraising result to be proud of!
Share this article with other members of your club, and organisations you know who need help with their fundraising. Tell us about great initiatives you’ve run, so we can share best practice with our online community. And go organise your next big event!