Britain is a nation of sport-lovers. From football to tennis, rugby to athletics – there’s almost nothing we won’t try our hand at. Sport England lists 33 different activities as ‘major sports’, with swimming, running and cycling taking the top three sports respectively.
Whatever your sport, you’ll be well aware that nothing comes for free. Kit, equipment, maintaining pitches, coaches, transport to games, recruitment – the list goes on. For any club to succeed and grow, it has to have cashflow behind it. Fortunately, sports clubs are ripe for fundraising opportunities. To give you a hand, we’ve put together this extensive list of sports club fundraising ideas – from the obvious to the inventive, you’ll be inspired in no time!
Also check out our 9 steps to success for Fundraising for Sports Clubs and The Beginners Guide to Fundraising for everything you could possibly want to know.
The basics – day to day funding
There are two common, primary means of getting funds flowing in for your sports club. You may already have one or both of these in place, but if not, now’s the time to consider it.
Most clubs have some form of membership fee in place, and it’s their main source of income. It pays to look at how your membership fees are structured. Compare the projected income with your expected running costs – how much could you cover, realistically?
Don’t be afraid you’ll put current or potential members off by implementing fees. At the end of the day, their lives are enriched by their participation in the club and they’ll know little comes for free – so most will be happy to contribute. If you’re worried, why not introduce a staggered fee? For example; charge supporters, students and unemployed people a little less – only paying the full amount if they can.
At the point of sign up or renewal, you could ask for an extra one-off donation, or suggest an optional ‘high-tier’ fee that would allow those who can to give more to the club each month.
The other staple of sports club funding is sponsorship. Get your business head on! Look to local businesses and try to build an arrangement that’s mutually beneficial. If you’re asking for cold hard cash; what will you give them in return? Could you wear their logo on your kit, or display it in the grounds? Aside from money – there’s other resources they could give you. Could you ask for their staff to volunteer on match days? Or could members of your club receive a discount for the company’s services? These things should indirectly save your club money.
If you’ve got all or most of the day-to-day costs of running your club covered by fees and sponsorship, great! But fundraising should never stop there. You’ll be needing extra funding to allow your club to thrive.
You’d be amazed how much is available through grant funding. If your helping people in your community to get involved with sport and stay healthy, you’re more than eligible!
- Organisations such as Sport England provide grant funding opportunities for clubs of any size, and their small grants range from £300 to £10,000, with the aim of covering costs associated with getting more people active. This makes grant funding a perfect port-of-call for raising funds associated with improving your facilities and recruiting new members.
- You can also apply to their Community Asset Fund. This is money set aside to help improve the spaces people use for sport, like a park, canal towpath or village hall – you name it.
- You could apply directly for National Lottery Funding too. Every year, their ‘good causes’ program provides financial support to thousands of clubs up and down the country. They’ve invested billions since launching in 1994, so register your cause today and see what happens – you’ve nothing to lose!
It seems simple, but since you’re a good cause; you really can just ‘collect’ money. Of course, there’s more than one way to go about it, but however you collect it’s important you tell your ‘story’. If you put a clear and compelling case forward, people will dig deep.
- Why not put together a few collection tins? Ask local business people if you can pop a tin on their counter. You could also try hotels, office reception areas, cafes – anywhere people will be waiting around or swapping coins. Think first of the comfortable fits, business that suit your cause such as sports clothes shops, then branch out. Is there a way of getting the employees of the businesses involved – or even better – signed up?
It makes sense to put a collection tin in place at your clubhouse or hall, too. Make it unmissable; place it by the exit so members and visitors always see it as they leave. Make it stand out by adding a target thermometer showing how much further you’ve got to go – this should really encourage people to give. Could you theme the collection? Why not ask people to bring in all their 5ps?
It’s worth mentioning that there’s some rules and recommendations when it comes to static collection points. The club must issue identity badges to those who will place and collect from the boxes, as well as hold records of where boxes are and what’s been collected, and account this income separately. Find out more here.
- You could also think about street collections, and house-to-house collections in your local community. If you’re going to do this however, you absolutely must have a permit and need everyone involved to be over the age of 16.
- Why not host a kit drive? Head out into your local community in your team kit – you could bring along a few props; the rugby ball, the cricket bat, your tennis rackets. Take a collection bucket with you and head around the pubs and bars in your town. Could you retrieve people’s drinks for them in return for their loose change? An event like this will make a big visual statement for your club, so you’ll get plenty of questions and conversation on the night and might even recruit some new members! Of course, this doesn’t work for all sports clubs – we don’t recommend heading around the town in your Speedos!
- You can also collect money for recycling! From second hand clothes to old printer cartridges and mobile phones, find out more on our recycling page.
You’re a sports club, so it’s pretty likely you and your fellow members have a competitive streak! Make the most of it. Clubs often overlook a fundraising competition because it seems obvious, but it can attract new members, involve families, inject some fun into the calendar and – of course – raise money if you get it right.
- Consider a competition that isn’t the same as your club sport. Why not try a beard growing competition or a Man vs Food challenge after a match? Anything that will get people talking.
- Think about the structure of your competition. Is it a big, one-day spectacle? Is it going to be drawn out over the course of a few days or weeks – with a start and end point? Could it last the whole sporting year? Either way, think about how to capitalise. Single-day events should be heavily promoted, while competitions running ‘in the background’, such as a beard growing contest, should be consistently referred to. Take pictures of the progress, upload to social media and keep reminding your followers to share and donate!
- You could also partner with another local club. They’ll almost certainly be fundraising too, so help each other out. Could the two clubs face off; taking it in turns to battle each other at their respective sports. From experience, this one can have comedic results and really draw the local community! Why not have a go at a sport neither club participates in and see who comes out on top?
- Don’t stop the partnerships there. Why not team up with a local school or disability charity for a competition? They’ll help publicise the event and bring the turnout – you can work the event together and split the profits. Giles Heagarty of Macclesfield RUFC says ‘Rugby Clubs don't just fundraise for the clubs but for their favourite charities too. Every year we have a ladies lunch and fundraise for breast cancer awareness. The players played in their shirts (which were special edition) and we auctioned the shirts off their backs. We raised over £5k!’
- Adding a prize always boosts that competitive edge and gets people excited. Could you get a local business to donate a prize? Could any of the club members get their employer to gift something? Perhaps a member owns a holiday home and will offer some time away there for free?
- Could you tie in a competition with a new member drive, or make the most of your fixtures calendar? Why not charge a small fee and let people from the community compete at an element of your sport, promising a prize for the winner? Those who really enjoyed themselves will surely come back for more!
The great thing about Sports Clubs is that, by definition, their members are engaged, active and ready for a challenge! And you can use this to your advantage when you fundraise. See if someone in your club, including you, are willing to do something extraordinary, terrifying or record-breaking.
- Play on your fears. We’re all scared of something – be it heights, spiders, clowns – so we can all empathise with the feeling of fear. Get people to sponsor you to face and tackle your worst nightmare. If you’re an arachnophobe, hold a spider. If you’re terrified of heights, abseil down a cliff face and so on. Knowing your pushing your boundaries will make people more likely to donate.
- Breaking a world record is a great way to publicise your club and bring in some funds. Start thinking of ideas now. Is there something linked to your sport that you could do? Try and think outside the box, something that hasn’t been done before. If you think you’re onto a winner, get in touch with Guinness World Records and they’ll start arranging for an adjudicator to observe the record if they like your idea.
- As a sports club, you’ve probably got a fair few health-conscious members. Why not set a health challenge? Get people sponsored to give up alcohol for a month, or kick chocolate to the curb for good. Whenever anyone slips up, make them pay a penalty. The added bonus is that healthier club members means better performance when it comes to games, matches and races!
- The sporting calendar is packed out with charitable events. Why not enter a marathon, half-marathon or 10K? The London Marathon is a real standout, and in 2015 £54.1 million was raised – a record breaker for the ninth year in a row! A great list of UK running events can be found here. You could do even more than just run the race; why not dress up? Add an element that makes you, and your club stand out.
- At the moment, organised fitness challenges are really popular. Why not get the club to battle a tough mudder challenge, or take on a military fitness course? For a real challenge, take part in the Three Peaks. Climbing three mountains each in Wales, England Scotland in 24-hours – a feat like this should get the donations flowing in!
- Make the most of what you’ve already got. How can you play on your sport - or take it to the next level – to put together a pledge-worthy challenge? Think about how you could use the facilities already available to you. As a running team, could you aim to complete a thousand loops of the track together in 24 hours? How many lengths could your swimming club get in?
As a sports club, your calendar is probably pretty packed out already. It might seem like you just don’t have the time to be scheduling extra fundraising events – but that’s where your wrong! Build your events around match days and training sessions. The great thing is that, naturally, you’ll already have the numbers. Get friends, family and neighbours to come along for support and you could have a great turnout on your hands, with lots of funds raised.
- Capitalise on an online challenge. In recent years, the no-makeup selfie and ice bucket challenge have been really popular. Why not get the whole team doing it at the same time? You can collect sponsorship money, all the while promoting the club with a funny video on Facebook.
- Team up with local businesses for one-off events. Could you get some local restaurants in on a food festival? See if there are any independent beer or wine producers in your area. Why not invite them to your clubhouse to hold a fair? Make money from selling tickets priced at £5-£10 each. Could you sell ice creams there as an easier earner?
- Ask your members to begin donating household items they no longer want. When you’ve got plenty in, set up a jumble sale to coincide with a match day, when lots of people are around. Sell refreshments alongside this – teas, juices, hot dogs – and maximise profits.
- Think about hosting an ‘annual dinner’, a big fundraising event that also celebrates the club’s achievements. Use your own clubhouse or, if you don’t have one, hire out a function room. Put on some entertainment (why not ask if a local performer will do it for free, or make a donation?) invite local business people and influential figures – any key members of the local community – and set ticket prices high, at least £20. At the event, you can hold raffles with prizes donated from the businesses to bring in some extra money.
- If you get a Saturday without a game, or aren’t running training as per usual on a weekday evening, think of how you could keep your members occupied doing something else Could they offer to clean cars in the area? Tend to neighbours gardens? You’ll be surprised how many members will be happy to give up their time, and if you have the numbers you’ll be collecting loose change left, right and centre.
- Throw a talent show in a local pub or bar. Ask the pub if you can use the space for free, as a favour. Then invite the local community to come down and see your club’s members show off their talents, paying £4 on the door. From singing, to dancing, playing instruments and performing – the funnier and sillier the better! Sell raffle tickets on the night for a funds bonus!
Make the most of the season
When building out your fundraising calendar, it always pays to pay homage to the time of year. Events like Christmas, Easter and Halloween really get people going, while cosy nights-in in winter and garden parties in summer make the most of what the weather throws at us. Make your fundraising efforts fit your context and you’ll be more likely to succeed
If you are or have a junior (kids) squad, think about planning your fundraising around the school year. Give them a big fundraising challenge while they’re off during the summer and are looking for something to do. Get them sharing photos and videos online with their friends, spreading the club’s message and recruiting new members in the process.
- Why not hold a Christmas fair or party? Set up a range of stalls selling food and drink, and host a raffle. Turn this into a Christmas Quiz night to play on people’s competitive edges, it should keep guests around for a few hours at least!
- Everyone loves to ring in the new year with a prosecco or two! Why not hold a New Years Eve party at your clubhouse? Batch-buy the booze yourself and sell it on-site (as long as you’re allowed to!), making a nice profit as the evening goes on.
- Indoor events will be the main port-of-call at this chilly time of year. Have you considered a poker night, or games evening? If your sport is a winter sport, could you put some games up on a big screen and sell snacks and drinks?
- Easter’s a great opportunity for some fun, themed events. Why not plan an Easter Bash? Get with the season and plan an Easter egg competition or bake sale. Why not throw a grown-ups Easter egg hunt? Charge a small fee to enter and have some donated prizes to find – the top prize could be a nice bottle of wine or fizz!
- With the weather improving, it might be time to get outdoors again. Host a sponsored walk for the whole club. Set a serious distance so it’s a big event – 20 or 30 kilometres. See if you can get local businesses on board with sponsoring you, and give each member of the club a donations sheet to fill – asking friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. Could there be a prize for the person who raised the most?
- Big running events are really popular at this time of the year, such as the London Marathon. Whatever your sport, could you get in on this? Is there a race happening closer to home? It’s important to note that many of these events require applications months and months in advance of when they actually take place.
- The summer season is packed full of big sporting events you could capitalise on. Host an annual Wimbledon Party, screening the finals while setting up a ‘have a go yourself’ tennis court on a local green. Sell drinks and raffle tickets to bring in money.
Aside from Wimbledon – what else is on? Could you host a sponsored cycle race in the vain of the Tour De France? Could you have a ‘Mini Olympics’ tournament in an Olympic year, or screen some world cup matches?
- Everyone loves a barbecue. If the sun’s shining, get the barbecue out after a match. Have drinks ready that you can sell on site, and charge a few pounds for a burger or hot dog.
- Throw a big summer event that’ll get the whole community in. If yours is a winter sport, make the most of your facilities and use your pitches for a summer fair. Go all out and hire plenty of things to keep people entertained. Get some fete games hired (like these) or maybe even an adult bouncy castle if you’ve got the space! Prepare the food yourself and get lots of bottles of beer in. If you get this right, it can be a fantastic earner.
- For many sports, Autumn marks the start of a new season. It’s also the time a new school term begins. Think about how you can capitalise on this. Start talking to local businesses, get posters put up in your sports shop, or recruit for your juniors by getting in touch with local schools.
Just like being on the field, the pitch, in the pool or on the track – Sports Club fundraising isn’t always easy, but is super-rewarding and fun all the same. Get started with these ideas and you’ll be onto a winner.