Fundraising is the topic coaches and athletes love to hate, but why? After all, show me a team that competes at the travel, high school or college level that couldn’t put more money to great use right now.
There are more than one million teams in the USA competing at these three levels snd nearly all of them experience some degree of funding shortfalls.
We’re excluding, of course, the tiny number of powerhouse college football and basketball programs with huge budgets, multimillion dollar coaching salaries and big brand sponsorships to pay for the best equipment, facilities, recruiting, etc. Our focus here is on the 99.9% of teams, not the .1%’ers!
Want to see the problem for yourself? Ask any coach whether his/her team budget is even close to adequate. Better yet, set google alerts to “budget cuts in sports.” You'll read about hundreds of scholastic and collegiate athletic programs delaying essential equipment purchases, curtailing travel, reducing maintenance programs, cutting staffing, etc. It’s almost epidemic at this point.
A recent study reported that more than a billion dollars have been cut from athletic budgets in just the last year, not to mention all of the years that followed the 2007-08 crash when every school and athletic budget nationwide came under unprecedented stress.
This problem must be addressed for reasons that go way beyond the life lessons that participation in sports teach (like passion, commitment, fair play, competitiveness) or the unique learning that only comes from feeling the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Those of us with children participating in sports know first-hand that, regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard, athletics are essential to the physical and mental well being of millions and millions of young people in America. For so many of them, athletics is a way of life, a path to opportunity and a chance to grow into a productive and competent adult.
In the face of funds drying up like water in the desert, it is left to teams, departments, schools and communities to act. The private sector has to fill the void opened up by the withdrawal of public funding for athletics. Failing that, we’re going to have much bigger (and more expensive) health problems across entire generations to deal with.
Fundraising, as in “the generation of external funding resources”, is the obvious appropriate response to this enormous challenge. So, why is there so much resistance to it among coaches and athletes, often among parents, too?
Having been in the business of helping TEAMS (not individuals!) raise money for more than a decade, I can tell you the answer. It’s not complicated. Fundraising too often doesn’t work, takes too much time and effort, and sometimes even exacerbates the problem the team is trying to solve.
In so many instances, fundraising participation doesn’t fall under the 80-20 rule where a majority of participants don’t pull their weight. It’s more like the 95-5 rule. Every sports parent that has engaged directly in fundraising efforts on behalf of their child’s team knows exactly what I am talking about!
What we need in America to drive sports resources higher and to open up sports participation to more and more young people, is nothing less than a “fundraising revolution.” Our expectations for fundraising must change and our methods have to change, too.
After all, if one adult devastated by a natural disaster or personal catastrophe can jump onto sites like GoFundMe and raise tens of thousands of dollars, why can’t teams made up of many individuals raise even more? The answer is because teams aren’t using the right tools to get the job done.
Example. If a high school soccer team needs to raise $15,000 for a trip or field improvements, there’s no way to reach that goal selling candy bars, washing cars, printing discount cards or knocking on doors in the neighborhood. That just doesn’t work anymore.
Instead, teams need to join the Internet age and tap the crowd. Every athlete and every team has dozens and sometimes hundreds of people who know and care about them. All of those people are connected to hundreds more people who share a similar interest or affinity.
Smart use of the crowd can generate awareness for a fundraising campaign to thousands of people very quickly. That’s why social media and email sharing is so powerful as fundraising mechanisms and why that $15,000 goal is much easier to reach via the crowd than it is selling or knocking on doors.
Our crowdfunding platform was designed from the ground up to work for teams. Teams have unique needs for funding and different circumstances for fundraising than the individual raising money to battle cancer, restore a burned home or start a new business.
Just about every crowdfunding platform out there works only when the individual is willing to spend lots of time writing and posting updates, sharing pictures, uploading videos, etc.
Fundraising on these platforms can become a full time job. Most teams and individual athletes (and their parents) have neither the time, nor frankly, the interest to devote days, weeks or months to fundraising through continuous online self-promotion.
Our approach is different in that one crucial aspect. Instead of asking athletes, parents and coaches to generate a continuous stream of content to share, we do it for them. The results: a very small investment of time yields lots of contributions from friends, family, mentors and the crowd, and it all occurs automatically.
Crowdfunding for teams and for sports is still in its infancy. In the years ahead, there are going to be striking new developments in social media technology that will make fundraising easier and even more profitable. We’re out on the "bleeding edge” of this revolution. Bring your team onboard!
Do you want to start a campaign?
Reaching Our Goal, LLC
P.O. Box 444
Goldens Bridge, NY 10526