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Cashing In - Use some of these creative fundraising techniques to bring extra dollars to your program and motivate players.by: AFM Editorial Staff
© December 2014
Virtually every high school program in America relies on fundraising activities for at least some of their football budget. Whether it’s to purchase necessities such as uniforms or program enhancements such as camps or dinners, fundraising can go a long way toward making “wish-list” items a reality.
Fundraising activities also tend to unite players behind a common cause and bring together members of the community in support of the team. Courtesy of AFM readers, here are seven creative fundraising efforts employed by coaches that not only raise much-needed funds but foster team and community spirit.
When your school has an enrollment of only 480, like Crawford County High School in southwest Indiana, budgets are inevitably tight. For Head Coach Alan Hess, fundraising isn’t an option, but a necessity.
Hess organizes two annual fundraisers at the school that support the football program – a trash bag program and a BBQ chicken dinner for players, coaches, parents, and fans.
The trash bag fundraiser has been conducted for over five years. At the end of July, each player is given a quantity of trash bags which they, in turn, sell to boosters, schoolmates and citizens of Crawford County. The packages are sold for $13.00 apiece and the school receives 50% on all sales. Roughly $5,000 is raised annually with this project. “People need trash bags – it’s a necessity and the kids love selling them,” said Hess. “Each bag sold helps our budget and pays for the reconditioning of equipment, new helmets, and pads.”
Hess also conducts a BBQ chicken dinner, usually in October, as another annual fundraiser. Depending on sales per year, the program can net $3-4,000 for this event. Flyers and brochures are distributed at the school, churches, and businesses. Each ticket costs $7.00. The food is supplied by a local restaurant.
“What makes this a great event is that the parents help cook all the sides and the coaches and dads cook the chicken,” said Hess. “It’s a tremendous bonding experience for parents, coaches, and players as well as our town. Last fall a total of 825 complete meals were served and we ran out of chicken. It makes for a very long day – 7:30 in the morning to about 8pm – but it is certainly worth it.”
According to Assistant Coach Paul Broxterman, each player in the off-season is asked to provide the names of 10 relatives, friends, and professionals that do not live in the immediate area. “We’ve stayed away from local businessmen and merchants because they are solicited for just about everything,” said Broxterman. “Our athletes pledge 10 names and addresses – relatives, friends, doctors and dentists – asking each one to donate to the football program. We send out the letters in July. The donations go toward the football budget including equipment for our strength and conditioning program, expenses for our post-season banquet and even off-season camps.”
The booster club pays the postage for the letters while the paper and envelopes are donated. “Our best return was $4,300 and the average return is about $3,100,” said Broxterman.
The coaches announce each patron that has donated to the team in mid-August. Most donations are between $25 and $50 dollars. “We’ve been doing this fundraiser for a number of years and plan to continue it,” said Broxterman. “Not a bad return for a $30 investment.”
The Cumberland Panthers are a provincial team in Ontario, Canada and play many of their games throughout the province. They play in the Ontario Varsity Football League with the season from May to August. The players are roughly the same age as American high school students. A major expense during that time is the cost of chartered buses to travel to games throughout the province.
The coaches came up with a ‘movie and pizza’ night to help offset the transportation costs they were going to have during the course of the season. The event was a “hardship” fundraiser for players who needed help with mandatory fees. Other players, who didn’t need help, just paid for the night’s activities. A local merchant donated pizzas at half price and each player was given four tickets with the mission of selling each one for $20 or raising $80 per person toward the fundraiser.
“We raised $1400 for the night,” said Head Coach Ron Raymond. “Most of our athletes sold the four tickets they were given and we had a great evening with our players, coaches and friends. It doesn’t get better than having pizza and watching a movie.” That night the coaches and players watched the football documentary, ‘Undefeated,’ the story about the struggles of a high school team in Memphis that turned around their program.
The event took place in April and will now become a regular tradition at the school. “The kids really loved it and it helped build the chemistry between players and coaches,” said Raymond. “We are planning it every April.”
With that in mind, the school began selling meat packs to families and friends eight years ago for food stamps when Hall arrived at the school. A local butcher pre-orders a variety of meat, chicken, pork and seafood in cases. Each one costs $179 but they are sold to the school for half-price. In turn, East Hall’s football players sell the cases to family and friends, making 50% on each one sold. Many of the town’s residents pay via food stamps and have their meat supply for about a month. “The butcher will have the customers use their pin number and then will credit us with our share,” said Gray.
“We begin the project in May and it goes for about three months,” added Gray. “The push is until mid-August with generally 60-70 cases being sold. It can net us between $7,000 and $8,000 annually. We use some of the funds for the cost of our kids attending a summer Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp. We plan to continue with it next spring.”
“This is our second year with the lift-a thon and it helped raise $6,200,” said Princeton Head Coach Derrick Minor. “We had all of our players compete in the event last May with the money raised going for practice and game equipment, uniforms, and various football camps
Each athlete gets a free T-shirt with logos of the sponsors on the back of the shirts. Princeton has three prices for sponsors including the Gold Club ($50), the Blue Club ($100) and the Bulldawg Title Sponsorship ($250).
“We were able to get four sponsors for the T-shirts last May,” said Minor. “It was a great experience for our players. Seeing families and friends rooting on each athlete made it a tremendous event.”
At Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert, California, a big night at a local restaurant paid big dividends for the football program. To help kick off the season and unite the community in support of the team, Head Coach Bob Molyet partnered with the local Chipotle to conduct a “Xavier Prep Night” at the restaurant. Xavier Prep received back 20 % of all sales to customers who brought a flyer – distributed throughout the school – to the restaurant between 4:30 and 7:30 on a designated day.
According to Coach Molyet, the school raised $2,300 in that three hour time period. “The restaurant grossed over $11,500 in sales during the three hours,” said Molyet. “We needed to raise money for our trip to play a team in Seattle earlier this year and this certainly contributed to it.”
Flyers were distributed throughout the school and for that three hour period, Chipotle was packed with students, athletes, and their parents. “It was an amazing scene” said Molyet. “They actually ran out of rice and beans before the three hours ended. I felt bad for the other patrons that came into eat and saw that Xavier Prep had taken the restaurant over.”
About 80 players are involved in the fundraiser and each one tries to get 10-20 sponsors. “If, for example, a pledge is for one cent per pound and the player bench presses 300, the donation is $30,” said Infante. “With 80 players in the event, it’s possible for us to raise $12,000-$15,000.”
St. Joe’s uses a ‘projected 2 rep max’ for the test. “We allow the athlete to chose a weight he knows he can perform from 1-3 reps,” said Infante. “We then take those results and apply a formula which gives us a ‘projected’ 1 rep max. That’s the number we use for the bench-a-thon. It’s safer and still very accurate.”
The money collected helps offset the cost of each player’s “spirit pack.” This includes a warm-up travel outfit, two pairs of shorts and t-shirts, a sweatshirt, a long sleeve shirt and a cap. “I believe players need to be vested in their programs, wholeheartedly,” said Infante. “In order to get the spirit packs and equipment, they must turn in their sponsorship money.
“It’s great to see the players rooting for each other. They now know they can support themselves. This has become a great summer event for us.”
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