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 go it alone. With a little research, you can uncover companies that sponsor youth sports to support your teams.
Where should you begin? Companies of all sizes contribute to youth sports teams and leagues. Look to pro sports leagues and teams, national brands, and local organizations as potential sponsors.
And be creative! Although financial sponsorships should be your top priority, you can partner with businesses to reduce your costs in other ways. 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.
Many professional sports leagues and teams want to share their love of the game with the next generation of athletes. You’re likely to find a youth-focused charitable program in your area if you do some searching.
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.
Individual teams – like the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Reds – also sponsor youth sports. Be sure to check out the professional teams in your town to see if they offer grant or sponsorship opportunities for youth sports. Who knows? Your favorite pro team could have programs to support sports in the surrounding community. A little research can go a long way!
Many nationally known companies have active charitable giving programs. Often, these companies offer funds to youth sports organizations. Through these contributions, companies gain brand awareness and build goodwill in local communities.
Which companies donate to youth sports programs? Here are just a few that have ongoing support or have sponsored youth sports in the past:
Chevy Youth Baseball supported over 654,000 athletes in 2019.
Also, some companies may make donations when their employees volunteer for an organization. For example, Gap Inc. donates $150 for every 15 hours of volunteer service by a single employee. If three or more employees team up to volunteer, Gap will give $250 for 25 hours. Imagine how quickly volunteer hours can add up for busy league officials and coaches during each season.
Visit any community sports complex on a busy Saturday and look around. You’re likely to see banners advertising local companies on playing fields. Check the back of the players’ team shirts. Once again, you’ll find names of local businesses on display.
When it comes to youth sports, local businesses are some of the most avid annual sponsors. This makes sense when you think about it. 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. But don’t stop there. Reach out to community organizations, like the Rotary Club, Lion’s Club, or Kiwanis Club. These and other organizations take pride in helping the local area in any way possible.
How do you reach out to local organizations for sponsorships? 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 the goals of your organization 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.
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, or other promos. 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.
Recognizing your local sponsors on your website is a great way to generate value year round.
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. Talk about an easy way to increase the contribution value!
Every donation helps keep costs low. In fact, this can be a powerful motivator for companies willing to sponsor youth sports. Let people know how their contribution directly impacts youth in the community. You can fund more scholarships and keep participation fees in check. And that can help make sports more accessible to kids and families.
Scoring dollars for your sports program is always worthwhile, but be open to other ideas like requesting sponsorship during registration. Organizations may not always be able to make a cash donation but may be able to help in different ways.
Some 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 teams for pre-season field clean-up days. Many teams find that volunteering together is an excellent morale-building activity.
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.
There’s no question that budgeting for youth sports teams is challenging. 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. It’s a juggling act for sure.
Attracting sponsors is essential to your league’s success. 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.
Once you reach that stage, you can work on growing your relationship with existing sponsors while branching out to new ones. You’ll likely need a designated league or club sponsorship manager to oversee the process.
A sponsorship program can require focus and energy, but the rewards are worthwhile. You – and your sponsors – can know that you’re sharing the positive benefits of sports with young people. In the end, the smiles, laughter, and friendships you’ll witness will make you proud of all the time you dedicate to youth sports programs. Spend an afternoon following these tips and you’ll find new companies that sponsor youth sports for your teams this year!