Your Youth Sports Donations Guide for 2024

Tim Gusweiler
donations for youth sports on a website
donations for youth sports on a website
One of the biggest challenges if you run a youth sports organization is getting enough funding to pay for facilities, uniforms, equipment, insurance, and everything else your organization needs throughout the year.
Most organizations run on a very tight budget. Player registration fees help cover costs but rarely allow for organizations to try to grow and increase youth sports participation. The challenges are even greater if you’re starting a new sports organization.
That’s why youth sports fundraising from sponsorships and donations is a critical job for every volunteer. But it’s super hard and requires time and investment from several people to be successful.
In this guide, we’ll share different types of youth sports donations, how to encourage people to donate to your organization, and how donations can impact your organization.

Types of youth sports donations

Monetary donations

The most common type of donation is a cash contribution. Cash contributions can make a big difference at your organization—even if you only get small donations of $5 at a time. There are a few different ways to get started collecting monetary contributions.

Online donations

If you’re running a nonprofit sports team or organization, you need to make it easy for people to donate online anytime. Set up an option on your website for people to donate throughout the year using a credit card. 
a donation option on the homepage of a youth sports website
Describe your organization clearly. Explain how you help the community and why donations make a difference. You can even include a sentence explaining that every donation goes a long way, even a small amount.
It would help if you also gave participants the ability to make a donation when they register a player. 
a donation being made during youth sports registration
The more specific you are about the impact of donations, the better. People won’t donate if you simply ask for a donation, they need a specific reason why to feel like their donation will make a difference.

Mail-in donations

In your offseason, try mailing a donation letter to local businesses and nonprofits in your community.
Describe your organization, including your sports and age groups. Business will want to know how you are making a difference in the community and any major accomplishments, like team or academic achievements.
Provide businesses with detailed information about how they can contribute to your organization by making a donation. Indicate the contact information of a board member so they can contact you if they have any questions.

In-person donations

Giving people the option to donate while they are at your events never hurts. Parents seeing kids playing can inspire them to make a small donation.
Even putting out a “tip jar” that goes toward a specific campaign (like field improvements or a new concession stand) can raise a nice chunk of money quickly. If you run a fundraiser like a golf outing or chili cookoff, give participants the option to make donations during the event.

In-kind donations

Not everyone can or will want to donate money. However, there are tons of ways to help your organization without giving money directly. That's where in-kind donations come in—a non-cash gift that helps your sports program. Here's some examples:

Equipment donations

softball equipment
Equipment is one of the biggest costs for youth sports programs each year. Some of the most successful donation initiatives are focused on new equipment. 
Obviously, getting sports equipment donated is a top priority, and you can try to find local vendors who might donate equipment or become sponsors and give you a discount.
The equipment doesn’t necessarily have to be youth sports related. Do you need lawnmowers or other equipment to maintain your facilities? Think of every expense your organization has and find local businesses that can donate used or new equipment.

Facility donations

If you need to rent playing fields, gyms, or other facilities every year, check out free or discounted rates. You can use your sponsorship letter to get in touch with parks.
In some cases you may be able to approach community members to donate land for youth sports. Developing as many relationships in your community as possible can lead to larger and unexpected opportunities in the future.

Scholarship donations

Is there a local program that many of your athletes would like to participate in—like camps, training, or other experiences? 
Reach out to local businesses and organizations to see if they’ll provide free admission to a few of your athletes. Give out these scholarships at your end of season banquet to deserving young athletes. You can also come up with other youth sports awards ideas.

Youth sports grants to consider

Each offseason explore potential grant opportunities for your sports organization. Grant programs can be a lot of up front work to apply for, but can make a big difference at your organization.
Some of the top youth sports grants that are available national in America are:
Grants typically are used for specific projects—like facility improvements or new equipment. There are also others for high-need communities and youth development. You’ll want to make sure to explore all of the different grant opportunities for your sport, be it softball or flag football, in your region. The more grant applications you fill out, the higher chance you’ll get the funding you need.

How to encourage youth sports donations

Consistently collecting donations for your sports organization is a tough task, but it can be well worth the effort. Here are a few areas to focus on.

Building relationships with donors

People and businesses make donations to organizations that they have a relationship with. You’ll need to be out in your community asking for donations and explaining the impact donations make in order to create donation opportunities.
Focus on identifying different types of potential donors and cultivate relationships with each:
  • Individuals: Coaches, parents, and other supporters of your organization. This is your largest pool of potential donors, and make sure that everyone knows how to donate, why it is important to consider making a donation, and that even a small donation of $5 each year will make a big difference.
  • Businesses: Local businesses in your community want to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. Supporting youth sports is a great way to help, and they can also get the word out about their business. You just need to make sure you’re writing letters, posting information online, and following up with sponsorship packages for local business leaders.
  • Foundations: Nonprofit organizations and other charities are the smallest group of potential donors and the most difficult to reach. Receiving grants and other foundation support can take years to develop, but can have the largest impact.
The more you can develop personal relationships with potential donors the more likely you are to successfully solicit donations.

Creating a strong online presence

Make sure that donation information is readily available on your website. Make it easy for donors to make a contribution online any time—without having to mail a check or contact a board member.
online donations for a youth wrestling club
Social media should also be a part of your donation strategy. Make sure you are posting regularly (like once per month) about sponsorship and donation opportunities.
Again, it’s a great idea to give participants the option to donate when they register for a season or event.

Organizing fundraising events

In person fundraising events can raise money and also build a sense of community around your organization. Aside from ticket sales, have someone on site collecting additional donations during the event. At an event like a golf outing, you can include a game where the proceeds go directly to the organization.
If you run a sports organization with more than 100 athletes, aim to run at least 4 in person fundraisers per year. Some ideas for in person fundraiser are:
  • Golf Outing (or other fun sports events for adults)
  • Chili (or any other food) cookoff
  • Postseason banquet
  • 5k run
  • Car wash (this is a favorite if you want kids to do a majority of the work)
Anything that engages your community and has a fun element built in can be a successful way to generate donations for your organization.

The impact of youth sports donations

Success stories

Donations can go a long way to help community sports organizations thrive. On your website you can include a few success stories.
If athletes have received scholarships or free participation from donations in the past you can include their story on your website. Or, if donations contributed to a big project (like facility improvements or equipment) you should post pictures and details online.
You can also include quotes from players or parents who have participated in your organization. Sharing the experience of players online helps current and future donors realize the importance of supporting your organization.

Measuring and reporting impact

Internally, your fundraising committee should share progress with your board members at each meeting. Comparing donations versus previous years can be a great way to measure progress.
You can even publish an annual report on donations on your website so that the public can understand the impact. Including a chart will provide clarity around where the money from donations was used.
You also should have past results and expectations for the upcoming year in your youth sports budget.

Additional tips for sports organization volunteers

Using online fundraising platforms

Using a crowdfunding platform is a super easy way to run a capital campaign, like for field improvements or a new piece of equipment. Many online donation systems can also give you the ability to collect recurring donations so that donors can make contributions automatically. 
A few online fundraising platforms to consider are:
  • Snap! Raise (fundraising specifically for sports organizations)
  • Handbid (fundraising tool for mobile auctions)
  • GoFundMe (go-to tool for Crowdfunding for campaigns like facility improvements)
  • Jersey Watch (build a donation module directly into your sports website)

Seeking corporate sponsorships

Each year you should find local and regional companies to sponsor your organization. Some will be willing to make a donation, while others will want a more traditional sponsorship and get something in return (like their logo on jerseys, field signage, etc.)
Many local businesses want to be involved with local sports. But, they’re busy. So you need to reach out to them directly (via email, direct mail, or phone) to get their support. If you provide flexible options (different amounts of support between $50 and $1,000+) you should be able to get ten or more local sponsors for your organization.

Engaging volunteers in fundraising

Fundraising and sponsorship should be one of the most important roles on your board. 
You should have one volunteer whose main responsibility is cultivating relationships and finding new sponsors and donors. It's a hard job, but it can make a huge difference in your organization's growth. If you don't have a person who is in charge of fundraising, it will slip through the cracks and no one will be responsible for it.
Your organization needs funds beyond registration fees in order to operate at the highest level and provide the best opportunities for participants. You should educate coaches and other volunteers about fundraising before each season begins.
Make sure that at your postseason banquet you recognize your fundraising chairperson, and any other volunteers that went above and beyond to help raise money for your organization. You can even have an annual award that is given out to the volunteer who made the biggest impact on your fundraising efforts.

Get more donations for your youth sports organization

Fundraising is a critical part of your role as a sports volunteer, whether it’s for a high school or local team. It can be a painful and uncomfortable process, but building a solid stream of donations each year will make a big impact on the success of your league or club.
Developing a strategy to increase donations is something your board should do each offseason. Building a solid online presence, providing a clear description of how donations are used, and helping donors recognize the BIG impact donations make will start you down the right path to achieving your fundraising goals.


Are donations to youth sports organizations tax-deductible?

Yes, donations to sports organizations are generally tax-deductible. Your sports organization should file 501(c)(3) paperwork so that you are officially a tax-exempt organization. This will make your organization more credible to potential donors and guarantee that their donations are tax-deductible.

How can I organize a fundraiser to benefit a youth sports organization?

There are lots of different options to set up a fundraiser for youth sports organizations. You can run in-person fundraisers (like golf outings, car washes, or banquets) or completely online fundraising using your website and social media.
The keys to any successful fundraiser are to recruit a team of volunteers and promote the fundraiser well in advance of the event to generate interest.
Jersey Watch is the Fastest Way to Manage Your Sports Organization