As a league or club leader, you want to do all you can for your young athletes. But funds can be tight.
The good news is that you don’t have to fund your organization with just player registration fees. You can uncover companies that sponsor youth sports to support your teams with little research.
Every dollar you save can help keep registration and equipment fees down, which can help more kids access sports programs, and improve the overall youth sports experience in your community.
Now, let’s look at some ways to get more sponsorships for your next season.
What is sports sponsorship?
Sports sponsorship is when a company gives money or other support to an organization in exchange for promotions. Typical sponsorships include logos on uniforms, event advertising, player or fan access, premium tickets, and more.
Getting sponsors for your youth sports team is important because you can:
- Raise the cash necessary to balance your operating budget.
- Help more kids participate in your community through a player sponsorship program.
- Fund capital projects, like purchasing large equipment or building a new facility.
- Develop much needed relationships with businesses in your community that can contribute to the long-term success of your organization.
Many national brands contribute money to the youth sports industry. They gain brand awareness amongst target demographics and build goodwill in local communities through these contributions.
How to get sponsorship for sports
Identify national companies that sponsor youth sports
Which companies donate to youth sports programs? Here are just a few that have ongoing support or have sponsored youth sports in the past:
- DICK’S Sporting Goods
- Buffalo Wild Wings & The Boys and Girls Club of America
- Choice Hotels
- State Farm
- US Bank
- Bank of American
- Finish Line
- Keurig Dr. Pepper
- Road Runner’s Club
Nike Community Impact Fund
Nike offers grants and donations to youth sports organizations, schools, and community sports programs as part of the Nike Community Impact Fund.
The Nike Community Impact Fund focuses on communities that Nike has corporate offices - Portland, Brooklyn, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and several others in the US.
Nike also has a Mid-South Grants program that supports organizations in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. The Mid-South Grants are focused on organizations that allow kids from underserved areas to reach their potential through sports.
If you think your organization might be eligible for the Nike Community Impact Fund programs visit their website or apply online!
Chevy Youth Baseball and Softball
Chevy Youth Baseball and Softball is one of the most well-known supporters of youth sports. Since its inception in 2006 the program has supported over 26,000 youth sports leagues in the US.
The program provides free clinics to players and also donates equipment. You can learn more or register a player for a clinic on www.chevrolet.com/youth-sports
Chevy Youth Baseball supported over 9.2 million athletes since 2006.
Are you looking to increase funding for a youth baseball program? Learn more about the top youth baseball fundraising ideas.
DICK'S Sporting Goods Sports Matter Program
DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation provides funding and grant opportunities for youth sports organizations in all 50 US States.
A few of the requirements include:
- Must be a 501c3 organization
- Must be in a community in which DICK'S has a store
- Must have a team youth sports focus
To apply for support for your program visit https://www.sportsmatter.org/funding/
Xenith Sponsorships for Youth Football
Xenith Supports youth football at all levels. If you've got a growing youth football program, or run a large post-season youth tournament you should complete Xenith's Sponsorship Application.
If you're an individual or a coach, you can also join the Xenith MVP Program and earn rewards by purchasing Xenith products and spreading the word.
Learn more about the Xenith MVP Program on their website.
Buffalo Wild Wings & The Boys & Girls Club of America
Buffalo Wild Wings and The Boys & Girls Club of America partner to help grow flag football, basketball, soccer and volleyball at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.
If your sports programs are affiliated with The Boys & Girls Club make sure you're taking advantage of funding opportunities for your sports programs!
If your teams are planning overnight stays, Choice Hotels provides support for team travel. You can apply for reduced rates or learn more about Choice Hotels Sports Travel portal.
State Farm is heavily involved in sports from Patrick Mahomes commercials all the way to logos on youth baseball uniforms.
State Farm supports local organizations through their corporate office and individual agents. If you run a nonprofit sports program and have State Farm agents in your area, you should reach out directly to request support. You can also contact the corporate office for sponsorship opportunities on their website.
US Bank supports community organizations throughout the US through its Community Possible program.
Do you have US Bank branches in your area, or US Bank employees in your community? There may be opportunities to get sponsorship or donation matching. Learn more about opportunities on US Bank’s website.
Bank of America
Bank of America provides a wide variety of grant and sponsorship opportunities for community organizations and events. They support sports organizations from Major League Baseball all the way down to small community 5k races.
If your organization runs any large tournaments or generates lots of traffic to your facilities you should consider reaching out to Bank of America for a sponsorship or grant. You can learn more about their different programs on their website.
Coca-Cola is another company that gets involved in all levels of sports - from the Olympics all the way down to recreational youth sports.
Your organization can apply for product donations or financial support on the Coca-Cola website.
McDonald’s is another long-time supporter of sports at every level. Remember that Michael Jordan and Larry Bird commercial?
If your organization isn’t already getting sponsorships from McDonald’s you should reach out directly to the McDonald’s franchisee in your area to see if they’ve supported youth sports programs in the past. You can also learn more about corporate sponsorships and giving programs on the McDonald’s Community page.
Target Youth Soccer Sponsorships
In 2017, Target committed to supporting the growth of youth soccer in the US. The program includes grants for soccer programs and direct sponsorship of the US Soccer Foundation to build new facilities.
Target made a $14 million commitment to youth soccer through two new national initiatives—an $8 million local soccer grant program, and a $6 million partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
Verizon Community Grants for Youth Sports
Verizon gives grants to local organizations that have a charitable purpose. If you're running a large event or league that makes a impact on your community you should reach out to apply for support from Verizon.
You can contact a local Verizon rep on their Grant Application page.
Scotts Baseball Field Refurbishment Program
In 2021, Scotts and MLB created the Scotts Field Refurbishment Program to help nonprofit youth baseball or softball programs that are in need of field renovations. Grants are awarded to sports programs to give kids a modern and safe field to play on. In 2021, Applications were accepted in the Spring.
Learn more or apply online on the Scotts Field Refurbishment Grant Application website.
Finish Line Louder Than Words Program
Finish Line supports communities through it's Louder Than Words program. Organizations must be a 501c3 to qualify, and must have 51% of the participants in the sports organization must be people of color.
Apply online one the Finish Line Youth Foundation website or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions!
Keurig Dr. Pepper Let's Play Fund
Let's Play is a program created by Keurig Dr. Pepper and Good Sports to provide sports equipment grants to youth organizations.
Approved applicants receive up to $10,000 in new sports equipment and apparel to support their organizations. Apply online on the Let's Play Application site.
Publix Event Sponsorships
Publix specifically focuses on event sponsorships for local sports organizations. If you have a large one-day tournament or end of season event, you should consider applying for a Publix sponsorship.
Gatorade Youth Sports Partnerships
Gatorade provides opportunities to donate sports drinks to local events. They only accept applications from youth sports events, so be sure your event or program is focused on supporting kids in your community.
Head to the Gatorade Youth Partnerships Website to apply for your program!
Road Runners Club of America
Since 2007, the Road Runners Club of America and Kids Run the Nation have assisted running clubs, schools, and community non-profits in starting youth running programs. Funds can be used for a wide range of expenses including hydration supplies, snacks for athletes, park permits or facility rentals, and website hosting.
Grants from $500 to $1,000 are awarded to youth running programs in the U.S.
If you want to start a new sports team, or need help funding your existing program, you should considering applying on the RRCA Website.
Once you've applied for sponsorships and grants from national businesses you should research professional leagues and local pro teams for support.
💡PRO TIP: Use Sponsoo to locate potential sponsors in your region. Sponsoo created a sponsorship market that helps athletes, teams, and sponsors connect with one another.
Get local businesses to sponsor your youth sports program
When it comes to youth sports, local businesses are the most avid annual sponsors.
Typically, local business owners have strong ties to the community where they do business. They may have even coached, volunteered, or have had their own kids play in local leagues or clubs. It’s natural for them to want to give back.
Approaching small businesses for donations is a must for a successful sponsorship program. Here are a few tips to build up your sponsorship program before your next season.
Write a donation letter
How do you reach out to local organizations for sponsorship? Again, a personal approach works best. Make a list of target donors and get the names of key people from their website. Ask around the league. Find out who knows people affiliated with potential donors and work through them for an introduction.
You can also send a donation letter to request sponsorships. Make sure your letter outlines your organization's goals and the impact that sponsorships make on the community.
Need help writing a donation letter? Check out How to Write a Donation Letter for Youth Sports.
Clearly explain the value of a sponsorship
Also, make sure you explain the direct value your league can provide to the sponsor. Let prospective sponsors know if they’ll receive signage, advertising on your website, social media promos, or other sponsorship deals.
Remind them of the goodwill and name recognition they can generate. And don’t forget the potential of a tax write-off for making a non-profit donation.
Reach out to board members, coaches, and parents
Does anyone from your league or club work for a company you want to seek as a sponsor? Find out if they can make donation requests to their employer. Also, companies often make matching contributions. With that approach, the employee makes a donation, and the company doubles it.
Once you've started to build momentum with your local sponsorship program, you should identify if there are national sponsorship or grant opportunities for your organization.
Research professional leagues that support youth sports
Many professional sports leagues want to share their love of the game with the next generation of athletes. Here are a few of the most active programs in the US.
On a national scale, the NFL Foundation provides funding for youth and high school programs. In addition, the foundation supports clubs, coaches, and players who share the sport with young people.
MLB Play Ball Program
The MLB Play Ball Program helps provide resources to youth baseball and softball programs. Resources include sponsorship programs, free content for players and parents, and educational sources for coaches. Learn more about MLB Play Ball Partners at www.mlb.com/play-ball/partners.
MLB Players Association Youth Development Foundation
The MLB Players Youth Development Foundation focuses on increasing participation in youth baseball and softball. Organizations in the US and Internationally are eligible to receive grants from the Foundation and new grants are approved throughout the year.
Learn more about the application process on www.mlbplayers.com/ydf
The JR. NBA
The Jr. NBA provides a wide variety of resources to help you build and grow a youth basketball program. Potential benefits of membership include:
- Access to regional events
- Discounts on uniforms and other league equipment
- Free curriculum for players and coaches
- Coach licensing and training
- Access to Grant Funding
- Discounts for players and parents in the NBA Store
You can register as an organization or player on the Jr. NBA website.
NHL Learn To Play
The NHL Learn to Play Program provides opportunities for young players ages 4-9 to start their hockey journey. Learn to play programs provide equipment to athletes at events and focus on athletes that haven't participated in hockey before or are beginners.
Events are typically once per week and last for 4-8 weeks.
Most programs are located near NHL Franchises and you can learn more about opportunities on the NHL Learn to Play website.
Find pro teams that support youth sports in your region
Almost every professional team has some sort of program to support youth sports locally.
Be sure to check out the professional teams in your town to see what type of current programs they have. In most cases you need to apply for grants and sponsorships at a specific time of year, so make sure you're researching well in advance of your season.
Learn more about other sports teams that support youth sports below. Don't see your team? Try Googling the name of the team and "youth sports" to see if they have a history of supporting youth sports in your area.
- Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates Charities Fields for Kids Program
- Kansas City Royals - The Royalty Fields Program
- Boston Red Sox - The Boston Red Sox Foundation
- Cleveland Browns - The Jr. Browns NEXT Program
- Los Angeles Chargers - Chargers USA Football Youth Football Grants
- Baltimore Ravens - Ravens Play60 Grants
- Chicago Blackhawks - CBC Community Fund Grants
- Carolina Hurricanes - Hurricanes Foundation Grant Opportunities
- New Jersey Devils - Devils Youth Foundation
- Los Angeles Lakers -Lakers Youth Foundation
- Portland Trail Blazers - The Trail Blazers Foundation PLAY Grant
- Golden State Warriors - Warriors Jr. NBA Week
- Philadelphia 76ers - Sixers Youth Foundation
- FC Cincinnati - FCC Foundation Mini Pitches
Creative ideas to get more sponsors
Make sure at least one person on your board is responsible for sponsorships and fundraising so they can dedicate their volunteer hours to building relationships with sponsors.
Making it easy for people to become a sponsor is also critical. For example, asking parents if they would like to sponsor during registration is a great way to get new sponsors. You can automatically add the appropriate amount to their fee so they can pay for their player registration and sponsorship fee all at once.
Give businesses in your area various opportunities to contribute even if they can't make cash contributions.
Companies of all sizes contribute money and time to youth sports. They do this to promote their brand strategy and contribute to their communities.
Some impactful ideas to consider are:
- Working with a business to host a spirit night fundraiser. Through this activity, organizations may offer a share of purchase on a specific date at to your league.
- Asking local organizations to volunteer their employees for pre-season field clean-up days. Many companies find that volunteering together is an excellent morale-building activity and a fun way to make an impact on the community.
- Requesting goods for league events. A grocery store may be willing to donate hot dogs or ice cream cups for league celebrations, for example.
Any of these ideas can help your league or club secure or save funds. And that empowers you to dedicate more money to serving your young athletes.
Make more sports sponsorship sales for your team
Registration fees may not be enough to fund your organization and you can feel pressed to evolve the program without increasing costs for youth participants. Fortunately, there are a ton of youth sports marketing initiatives to take to raise money.
Attracting sponsors is essential to your league’s business development. Along with fundraising from grants, sponsors should be a critical part of your league budget.
At first, your sponsorship pool may be small–but it will inevitably grow through the years. Over time, you’ll likely find many sponsors returning. They’ll start to put your league or club in their annual charitable budgets and won’t hesitate to offer support.
A sponsorship program can require time and energy, but the return on investment is worthwhile!
Sports sponsorship FAQ
What are examples of sports sponsorships?
Examples of global sports sponsorships include partnerships with professional sports teams, such as Adidas and The World Cup, or Gatorade and the NFL. Sponsorships can also include universities and their athletic programs, such as Bank of America sponsoring the University of North Carolina Athletics program.
How do you get a sports sponsorship?
The most important step to getting a sports sponsorship is building relationships with potential sponsors and understanding their goals and target audience. Crafting a compelling sponsorship proposal and having the right contacts can open many doors and increase the effectiveness of your sponsorship activations.
What are the 3 types of sponsorship in sport?
There are three main types of sponsorship in sport: cash sponsorship, in-kind sponsorship, and cause marketing sponsorship. Cash sponsorship involves the provision of money, in-kind sponsorship involves the provision of equipment, services, or products, and cause marketing sponsorship involves the promotion of a company's brand through the endorsement of a cause or charity.
Where can I find sports sponsors?
Sports sponsors can often be found through local businesses, sports teams, sports fans, and professional organizations. Additionally, many high-profile companies now offer sponsored sports opportunities through their websites and social media platforms.