Fundraising For High School and College Teams #1
Regardless of what sport you coach, bless a fellow coach and program by sending them a link to this article through social media, text, or otherwise. I want this to reach as many athletic teams as possible and every time you share this article it helps achieve that.
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BUILDING YOUR PROGRAM AND RAISING MONEY
In one of my former jobs, I was out on the road and ran across a former player for our program. He had played at the school a decade ago. We spoke for a few minutes and exchanged phone numbers. He texted me later that evening. He wrote something like, "There are very few things in my life that matter to me as much as this basketball program and I'm so glad we connected." Wow.
On one hand, I wanted to keep him connected with the program because his passion and emotional connection with the program was evident through our face-to-face conversation and text messages; On the other hand, I had a gut feeling that he would be happy to support our program if given the opportunity.
As coaches, we all want our leadership and/or our program to be admired like that by our former players. Whether a player has been out of our program for 2 years or 2 decades, we desire that they hold such positive sentiments. Of course, there are always dissenters. But, it's likely that no one will care as much about a program as its former players and parents.
Every coach has it in their heart to keep in touch with as many former players as possible, but the longer you coach, the more athletes you have. And the more athletes you have, the harder it is to keep up with all of them.
So how do coaches keep in touch with so many alumni? How do we connect the multiple generations of our programs where now 30-year olds still feel connected to our program? And how can a program capitalize on the fact that countless former players would be more than happy to donate $20, $50, $100, $500, or more a year to their former program?
In this article, I'm sharing a program-building strategy to achieve just that.
The basics of this philosophy comes from Gary Vaynerchuk's philosophy of "Give, give, give, ask". For our purposes, this translates to giving alumni players and parents fun content throughout each year and then asking for donations on occasion. I'll first lay out the 4 steps of this process and then address some questions I imagine you have.
STEP 1: GATHER EMAILS
In order to keep former players involved and in-the-know with your program, you have to have their contact information. This is step 1: Get all the emails of every player and parent who has been through your program. Your program (whether it's you, an assistant coach, a player, or a parent volunteer) is going to regularly send content out 1-2x/month to this audience.
STEP 2: CREATE AN EMAIL LIST
Enter all of these emails into an email service. You can use mailchimp or you can simply use your regular email provider like Google or Microsoft. I personally suggest mailchimp because it has a lot of awesome features that will make your emails look sharper. You can add up to 2,000 emails in mailchimp for free.
STEP 3: SEND CONTENT
On a regular basis (for example, once a month) send out valuable content to this audience. These can be blogs, videos, podcasts, whatever. The main point is that you want your program to send at least one memorable, funny, entertaining, or otherwise engaging piece of content per month. Below is a 12-month sample calendar of emails or videos you could make to send to your audience.
These are only a few ideas. You could choose to send out whatever you want!
- STEP 3 Question: WHO CREATES THE CONTENT?
No head coach needs more responsibility added to their plate. In order to maximize the efficiency of content creation, a coach can get former players to share their ideas or votes on a particular month.
For example, October's email could describe the "Top 5 scariest players on program history". Instead of having the coaching staff go back through all the rosters, there is an alternative way to get it done: During September, a coach could send out an email asking all former players to cast their vote via email and explain who the scariest players were and why. It will get funny! From there, organize each response into an email and just copy and paste the answers. Then send it out at the appropriate time.
In June, you could do the same thing. During May, have players email their top summer basketball memories and then in June, blast out the top 5 moments to all recipients.
STEP 4: ASK FOR SUPPORT
I wouldn't ask for support on every single email, although you're welcome to do that. Instead, I'd suggest asking for donations around the beginning of the season (October), the end of the season (February/March), and once in the summer.
Teams with a greater number of athletes like football are going to benefit more financially through this strategy than smaller teams like golf. However, this can help any program. As a basketball coach, I estimate that a basketball program in my area might have 300 kids come through a program in 10 years. In a given year, if we kept in touch with all of those kids, and parents, and just got $10 from each family a year, that's $3,000. The numbers for a football team or track program grow even larger than that.
By reminding your former parents and players about the great memories they had on your team, you are tapping into some amazing memories, old friendships, and positive emotions. Who doesn't like to chat with old teammates about playing days? Almost everyone does. When a program keeps former players connected to the program, those former players will feel appreciated for wearing your jersey, thankful that the program still cares about them, and just might have the inclination to give back financially.
If you're a head coach, this might be a good duty for an assistant to take over, or a manager. If you have a video creation team or department at your school that can create podcasts, maybe collaborate with them for a project. There are so many things you can do. Either way, just remember to connect your alumni with your program through their memories and updates of the current team. Don't ask for money all the time, but do so on occasion. I imagine your alumni players and parents will want to support your program, at the very least just to say "thank you".
I know there will be questions to this post. If you have a question, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you'd like a simpler, more traditional fundraising idea, you can go HERE