Running a nonprofit sports organization is a big challenge. You've got to manage registration, collect money, order uniforms, schedule events - and keep everything on a tight budget.
There are plenty of registration platforms, online schedulers, fundraising apps, and communication systems. But there are so many tools to choose from it can be hard to find the right ones for youth sports volunteers.
Your number one priority in your offseason should be finding a handful of easy-to-use online tools to save you time. If you're a volunteer check out this list of companies you can use to make your life easier next season.
A domain name is just the the name of your website (for example, yoursportsorganization.com). Getting a domain name is one of the most important factors in ranking your sports organization's website on Google.
If you don't already have a domain name many website builders will include your domain name so you can purchase everything in one place.
If you want to purchase your domain separately you should purchase your domain from either one of the options below.
GoDaddy provides plenty of tools for nonprofits, including a website builder, email, hosting, phone numbers, and more. But for sports volunteers the most useful tool is domain name management.
You can search for domain options and GoDaddy will make recommendations if your number 1 option isn't available. You can also find out who owns a domain name using their WhoIs tool - this can be particularly useful if a board member forgot when or where they purchased your organization's domain name.
GoDaddy is relatively easy to use and has great customer support. You can also share domain management privileges with other volunteers at your organization if needed, or transfer ownership of the domain to another account as board members turn over.
Domains on GoDaddy are generally between $10-15 per year depending on the domain name and extension you want.
When you purchase your domain from GoDaddy they'll probably try to sell you other products, like hosting, security, email, etc - but don't get sucked in. You shouldn't need anything other than the domain - so be sure to just purchase it for one year and put the domain on "auto renew" so you don't have to pay manually each year.
Google Domains is becoming the most popular domain provider for youth sports organizations because it's super simple and many volunteers already have a personal Google account.
If you already have a Google Account you can quickly search for and purchase a new domain on domains.google.com. Just like GoDaddy, you can share domain management privileges with others or transfer the domain quickly to another board member.
Domains on Google Domains are typically $12 per year - roughly the same price as GoDaddy.
After you purchase a domain name you can work on setting up email for your organization.
Communicating effectively without pulling your hair out is a top priority if you're a youth sports volunteer.
You should not be sending emails from your personal email address or work email. You also want to avoid listing your person or work email publicly for parents and coaches to contact you - you should have a separate inbox for your sports-related emails.
Get reliable email solutions set up for your sports organization so you don't find yourself bombarded by sports-related emails when you're at work.
Use one of the solutions below so you can send and receive emails without cluttering your personal inbox.
The easiest and most popular email method for sports volunteers is to set up a free email address like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com - just pick the free email service you like best and create a new email address that you can pass along to board members.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you create your free email address:
Don't use your name in the email address. You want to be able to "hand off" this email address to someone else in the future. So instead of using firstname.lastname@example.org you should use email@example.com
Keep the email address as short as possible. You want parents to be able to type th email address quickly on their phone.
Don't share an email inbox with other volunteers - this will lead to confusion, missed emails, or hacked passwords. If more than one person needs access, each person should create their own email - like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. You can always pass email addresses along as volunteers turn over each year, but never share an email address with someone else.
Creating free emails is generally the quickest and most cost effective option for sports organizations. But, if you want to go to the next level and create an email address with your domain name there are some simple solutions.
Google Workspace (formerly GSuite) is the most popular email management tool for businesses. If you want to set up custom email using your domain at your organization the #1 option is to use Google Workspace.
Great news - Google Workspace is free if your organization is a 501(c)(3). You can apply for your sports organization, verify your status as a 501(c)(3), and you'll get email (and Google Docs, Sheets, and all of Google's other tools) for free.
But before getting started, there are a few pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Google for Nonprofits
You can have unlimited email addresses using Google for Nonprofits. So if you'd like to set up custom email for your entire board you can have separate email inboxes for each person.
Remember that it's much better to use addresses like email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org. You want to make sure that email addresses are easy to transfer when board positions turn over. You don't want to be a volunteer forever!
Google's Workplace also comes with plenty of other tools that might be useful to your organization, including Google Calendar, Google Sheets, and Google Docs.
Cons of Google for Nonprofits
If your organization isn't registered as a 501(c)(3) you won't be able to get GSuite for free. The paid version can be a bit expensive (typically $6 per user per month), so if your organization isn't a 501(c)(3) you might want to look into other solutions, or file paperwork for your 501(c)(3).
You'll also need to maintain your settings to connect your domain to your email addresses. This isn't too tough, but involves adding MX Records on your domain to "route" your emails your Google Workspace inboxes.
Another simple option is to just set up email forwarding using an Alias email address. Use a tool like ImprovMX to forward email from one email address to your personal inbox.
Pros of Email Forwarding
Email forwarding will allow you to "hide" your personal or work email so that parents send messages to a separate email address. This could be useful for listing on your website and social media pages.
Cons of Email Forwarding
You won't actually have an email inbox, so your personal email inbox will still be receiving emails. To send replies, you'll still need to use your personal email address.
If you won't be sending too many emails, forwarding could be a good option.
Zoho Workplace is simple to set up and includes other tools for creating documents and spreadsheets.
Zoho could be a great option for you if your organization doesn't qualify for Google for Nonprofits. Plans start at $3 per month.
GoDaddy Email is convenient if you already purchased your domain from GoDaddy and want to manage everything in one place.
GoDaddy also has free support via live chat and phone to help set up your email addresses. You can get a basic email inbox for just $1.99 per month.
Every youth sports organization should build a website to promote the organization, communicate effectively, and manage registration.
Your website should serve as the online hub for all of the information about your organization throughout the year.
Finding a simple website builder that has features to save you time is an important decision you should make at the beginning of the offseason.
Jersey Watch is a powerful website builder that's made for youth sports volunteers.
Simple and fast features allow you to set up a website for your league or teams in just a few minutes. The system also has templates made specifically for sports like registration forms, rosters, and coaching staff profiles.
Jersey Watch can help manage your website, online registration, and communication all in one easy-to-use platform.
Pricing starts at $19 per month and includes a domain name. You can also transfer an existing domain if you already own one.
Sports Engine is one of the most popular website systems for large organizations and competitive clubs.
Sports Engine's features can be used to find new members, raise funds, launch apparel stores, collect fees, and promote programs.
Pricing starts at $69 per month.
Looking to build your own website without a template? Wordpress can be a lot of work to manage, but might be the best fit if you want to build your site from scratch.
Wordpress also has sports plugins that can help with page building and reduce the time spent manually coding pages.
You'll need a 3rd party registration provider and payments processor if you decide to use Wordpress and you'll want to make sure you have a tech savvy volunteer on your board. Don't get in over your head :)
After you get your website up and running you should find an online apparel store provider so you can sell branded gear on your website.
Selling apparel with your logos and colors is a great way to build support for your teams and raise funds for your organization.
But printing items, creating a store, and managing payments can be a pain. You should look for an online apparel store that is easy to use and meets all of your organization's requirements.
Whether you're running a highly competitive travel team or a recreational program you should set up an online store so parents and players can purchase apparel easily. Check out a few of the most popular options below.
SquadLocker can help your league or teams set up a custom store with branded apparel and gear. You can keep your store open year-round and you don't have to worry about order minimums.
Gear also gets shipped to your players pretty quickly - normally in less than 2 weeks.
Elevation Sports provides custom online stores for sports organizations - stores can include team apparel and uniforms.
You can also set up your store with some top brands like Nike, UnderArmour, Jordan, and Patagonia.
Team Sports Planet allows you to build a store for apparel or design your team's uniforms.
You can also create "team packs" so your players can all order the same uniform, apparel, gear, and accessories for the season.
Managing volunteer time slots, notifications, and scheduling can be a nightmare if you have dozens of volunteers.
There are several volunteer management systems that work great for sprots and are relatively low cost.
SignUp.com is free to get started can help coordinate snack assignments, car pooling, and post-season events.
Volunteers will receive automatic reminders so you don't have to do the manual work yourself or send personal emails to each volunteer.
SignUpGenius includes themes specifically made for sports to help you set up your volunteer forms in no time.
Just like SignUp.com, SignUpGenius will send automatic reminders to volunteers with their time slots. You can also use the SignUpGenius mobile app to manage your volunteers on the go.
You can use Sign Up Genius to make sure you have the right amount of Consession Stand volunteers, at the right place, at the right time.
If you have a small organization with less than 10 teams, Google Sheets might be all you need to list volunteer schedules and requirements.
Google Sheets is free and is an easy option if your volunteer management requirements are relatively simple.
If you run a large recreational league with a lot of teams you'll want to use an automatic schedule generator.
Schedule generators can save you a ton of time if you need to schedule games across multiple fields or gyms. You can also set criteria like preventing teams from playing each other more than once.
League Lobster is a popular free schedule generator for youth sports. You can auto-generate a round robin schedule, add team names, and separate your league into divisions or age groups.
You can also use League Lobster to create tournament brackets.
Diamond Scheduler can be a great alternative to League Lobster if you have more complex scheduling needs.
You can download Diamond Scheduler's desktop app to create your schedules. After creating schedules you can Export them to a spreadsheet or Word document.
Bracket Team is a tournament and league schedule generator that also includes a mobile app.
Users can easily find updated event standings, scores, and bracket results. Pricing starts at $1.50 per team.
Fundraising is one of the biggest challenges for youth sports volunteers.
No one likes to ask other people or businesses for money, but to run a successful youth sports program you need to find donors and sponsors.
Fortunately, there are some great tools you can use online to make fundraising less awkward.
FlipGive is a mobile app made for team fundraising.
FlipGive allows your members to earn dollars for your organization when they shop online. Earn up to 25% cash back on everything from groceries to hotels.
Many organizations from teams to leagues have raised thousands of dollars quickly by using FlipGive and promoting it to parents.
FlipGive's selected partners include Starbuck's, UnderArmour, Apple, and many more. Getting started is free on their website.
RallyUp is an online fundraising platform used by all types of organizations. You can run raffles, auctions, and other fundraising challenges to help your teams have fun raising money.
It's free to create an account, and setting up new fundraisers throughout the year is quick and easy. Learn more on rallyup.com/sports-teams/
Crowdfunding can be a quick and easy way to get community support. Campaigns with specific goals get parents, coaches, and community members excited.
If you decide to run a crowdfunding campaign, make sure you list very specific goals on what the funds will be used for - like new equipment, an end of season trip, or to help reduce fees for families.
PayPal is the most common way to collect online donations directly on your website.
If you don't want to do much work, you an embed a donate button and keep it open all year long your website so donors can contribute any time. Keeping an option for website visitors to donate live on your website year-round can help you raise a bit of money without much effort.
Make sure your "Donate" page is easy for visitors to access, and describes how donations are used to help fund your teams.
Communicating with everyone at your organization is one of the most difficult tasks as a volunteer.
If you're sending over emails to over 1,000 recipients per month it can be useful to find a mass emailing tool to send newsletters, registration announcements, and any other updates that are important at your organization.
If your league or club has over 500 athletes we'd recommend checking out some of the bulk emailing tools below.
Mailchimp is the most popular bulk emailing tool. They have lots of built in templates that you can use for newsletter type content. If you have 500+ contacts that you want to send newsletters to each month it could be a simple solution.
The free version won't get you too far, but they do have plans starting at $9.99 per month that allow you to set up more than 1 email group and multiple email templates.
If you have a tech savvy volunteer on your board who likes designing emails, Mailchimp could be a great option!
MailerLite is a simple email marketing platform for mass emailing participants. You can import email addresses to get your lists set up and add new subscribers as you go.
Creating emails is quick and easy - you can create and re-use templates, drag and drop your logo or photos, and edit custom HTML. There are also simple reports to track open rates and to see who has unsubscribed from your messages.
You can use MailerLite to create a newsletter template for your sports organization. Sending out a newsletter each month or quarter can be a great way to keep in touch with everyone at your organization.
You can have up to 1,000 email contacts for free on MailerLite, and pricing starts at $10 per month after you reach 1,000 contacts.
Constant Contact is another popular email system for sending newsletters like monthly updates, registration announcements, and organization wide notifications.
There are over 100 templates you can choose from to design branded emails for your sports organization.
Pricing starts at $20 per month and increases based on the number of contacts.
You can take your league or club to another level by live streaming games and events for parents.
Live streaming is a great option for competitive organizations or high school teams - but can also be fun for end of season tournaments if you run a rec organization.
If you want to try live streaming make sure to assign a board member before your season to pick a platform. You'll want a WiFi connection at your field or at least a strong cell connection to stream effectively.
If you're just getting started live streaming you should try Facebook Live.
Facebook Live has limited features and parents will need to have a Facebook account. But, it will work great for a short live stream like quick announcements or game recaps.
If you're looking to stream an entire game you'll probably want to try another solution.
Vimeo Livestream will give your teams a dedicated webpage where parents can watch your games.
Vimeo Livestream can get expensive (typically over $500 per year), but if you have 10 or more competitive teams that travel often, it can be a great option to give to parents who can't make it to games every weekend. You can also try to get a sponsor to cover the costs of your live streaming.
Vimeo Livestream can be a great way to set up online streaming if you have 5 or more competitive teams that travel often.
Meridix is a live streaming platform made specifically for sports. Meridix is used by highly competitive youth teams, high schools, and even college teams.
You can create a free account on Meridix to access some features, and pricing for full audio and video features starts at $99.99 per month.
Managing paper waivers and release forms can be a huge pain. You should definitely be allowing your participants to acknowledge waivers online when they register to play, or before they attend an event.
WaiverSign allows you to create online waivers and digital release forms quickly.
Using WaiverSign you can personalize your waivers by adding your organization's logo and colors. You can also manage and search for players to make sure they've signed a each document associated with an event.
WaiverSign can be used to manage all of your online waiver and acknowledgements. Participants can easily sign your waivers online, and you can make sure all of your players have signed in your Admin account.
Pricing starts at just $10 per month and just 10 cents per signed waiver, and you can create an account to try the features for free.
SignEasy is an online eSignature tool that can be used for sports. You can have several different people (like head coach, board president, parent, and player) all sign the same document online.
SignEasy also comes with built in templates so you don't have to create documents from scratch.
If you teams are highly competitive and you require player contracts after tryouts, SignEasy is a good solution to store all of the signed player and parent commitments.
Pricing starts at $12 per month.
If you manage a large venue with many fields, or if you want to schedule training lessons with individual players, you'll want to find software tools to help with reserving times and schedule management.
Facility Management tools can prevent double booking of the same field or trainer and allow coaches or players to reserve times online.
EZFacility is a robust facility management platform for parks & rec, community centers, and youth sports facilities.
Features help organizations streamline field availability, practice facility reservations, and member invoicing.
EZFacility is built for sports facilities like indoor soccer centers and baseball training facilities. If you plan to build and grow a sports facility as a nonprofit in your community or as a business, you should try EZFacility for your next season.
If you have a large facility, EZFacility can handle all of your scheduling and payment collection needs for field rentals and more.
Calendly lets players or parents book training sessions with coaches online. It's a simple option if you want to allow parents to reserve time with a coach and send notifications to the parents and coaches.
Calendly can also embed directly on your website so your players don't have to leave your site to book a lesson. You can also connect your Calendly account directly to your Google Calendar so that event bookings are sent to your personal calendar.
If you just have a few coaches you can probably use the free version of Calendly, although many more features are included with the Premium Version which is $8/user per month.
If you run a highly competitive organization with 10 or more teams you will probably want a solution to manage tryouts and player evaluations.
Player Evaluation Software can help you rate players and share results among coaches and board members. You can remove the clipboards, paperwork, and emailing by managing player ratings and results in a software system instead.
It can be super useful during tryouts and in future seasons to track player progress from year to year.
TeamGenius allows clubs and teams evaluate players in an easy-to-use mobile app. Coaches can use the mobile app to rate players during tryouts or in-season, and share results with other coaches or board members.
You can also update your player ratings mid-season to track athlete progress throughout the year.
Coaches can use the TeamGenius mobile app to rate players before, during, and after your season so you can track player progress throughout the year.
TeamGenius has a free trial. For more than 20 players pricing begins at $5 per player per year.
SkillShark helps make athlete or team evaluations easy. The system includes templates for sports including hockey, basketball, football, and more.
SkillShark has a free trial for up to 25 players, and after the first 25 players pricing starts at $4 per player per year.
Preseason and end of season surveys can be a great way to improve your organization each year. You should ask parents for feedback at least once per year so you can improve registration, communication, and get more support before your next season.
Using simple online surveys can keep parent feedback relatively anonymous and make it easy to organize and share with other volunteers.
The easiest way to set up a quick survey is to just use a Facebook poll on your organization's Facebook page.
Facebook Polls are great to get a quick answer from parents and fans like "Do you prefer the postseason banquet on a Saturday or Sunday?" or "Is Practice time ending at 8pm or 9pm better for your family?"
Simple polls on your Facebook page are a quick and easy way to get valuable feedback from parents before and after your season.
If you want to set up a more complex poll you should use one of the options below.
Survey Monkey is the most popular online platform to create surveys.
Survey Monkey will work great for more complex surveys that have many questions. You should consider using it after your season to send a survey to parents and coaches asking about their experience during the season. This can be a great way to gather feedback for future seasons.
Basic Pricing for Survey Monkey is free, and most youth sports organizations should be able to get by on the free plan :)
If you're already using Google Workplace to help manage your organization you should consider using Google Forms for your surveys.
Google Forms can set up questionnaires quickly. You'll be able to manage everything from one place if you're using Google form Email, Google Docs, or Google Sheets.
Do you run large tournaments with complex brackets throughout the year? You'll want to find a tournament management system to help organize everything, manage game scores, and post results for parents and coaches.
If you just run a few tournaments throughout the year you'll want to start by checking out a free bracket generator online. You might be able to get by with just creating your brackets and posting them on your website and social media accounts.
Give several tools a try to see which will work best for your events. A few free bracket generators include:
But if you're looking for more robust tournament management, registration, and live scoring, you'll want to find an online tournament management system.
Tourney Machine is a powerful software management tool for managing a tournament.
You can run your tournament with automatic schedule and pool play generators, post schedules and results online, and send notifications to coaches or participants.
You can also promote your event and get more registrants because all of your event information is searchable on tourneymachine.com. Coaches can find your event online, register, and pay.
TourneyEngine is made for tournament and league directors that need to manage registration, tournament billing, brackets, and scoring.
TourneyEngine is meant to be easy-to-use so you can get teams registered quickly. During your event you can mass email teams and coaches.
Before signing up and paying for new platforms you should research different options, and create free accounts take the product for a spin.
Be careful when signing on for long-term contracts or paying big up front fees. Most platforms should offer simple pricing without a big commitment for nonprofit sports organizations. If a software platform is trying to lock you into a complex contract, it should be red flag.
You should also lean on the simple side when choosing new software. Make sure you're signing up for platforms that are easy to use and don't require a lot of training. You want to be able to save time, not find yourself buried in heavy, complex platforms.