The Top Youth Sports Fundraising Ideas to Hit Your Goals

Connie Harrington

No doubt about it: Families get tired of the same youth sports fundraisers year after year. And tracking down enough sponsors to fund your league is difficult.

It’s time to find some easy youth sports fundraising ideas to energize your league.

Some are tried and true methods that have been used for decades, and others are creative ideas that use your website and social media to raise money year round. Some are almost effortless, while others take advance planning.

In this post we'll give you a guide to find a few more fundraising ideas for your teams or league. They all have an element of community and camaraderie to make raising money a bit more fun next season.

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    Classic Fundraisers for Youth Sports that Actually Work

    There are plenty of “old school” youth sports fundraising opportunities that your organization should consider each year. Some of these ideas aren’t necessarily new, but they’ve been around for a long time for a reason and you shouldn't overlook them when you plan your fundraising for next season.

    These ideas can help you raise thousands of dollars for your organization quickly if you are organized and promote them in the community.

    Here are a few of our favorites...

    Restaurant Fundraiser

    As a youth sports organization you should plan to run at least one restaurant fundraiser per year. They require very little planning and can help you raise some quick dollars before or during your season.

    Most restaurant fundraisers offer you the opportunity to send your supporters to the restaurant on a particular night or week, and donate a portion of those sales to your organization. You should plan to promote the fundraiser heavily, don’t just tell your players to attend. Make sure coaches, sponsors, past players, and anyone else involved with your organization knows about the fundraiser.

    Some of the top national chains that offer fundraising options for youth sports are:

    Chipotle

    Chick-fil-a

    Krispy Kreme

    Buffalo Wild Wings

    Panera

    Jersey Mike’s

    Red Robin

    Applebee’s

    Chipotle is one of the most popular national chains to offer fundraising opportunities. Be sure to research opportunities with restaurants in your community!

    Car Wash

    Car Washes are one of the classic ways to raise a bit of money for your youth sports program. They can be fun for kids to work, they are effective at raising money, and require very little planning!

    You can start by contacting a local business that has a prominent location but is closed on the weekends - like a bank or office building. These businesses have plenty of parking and will probably be willing to let you take over the parking lot for the weekend as long as you explain the cause. If you want, you could even list the business as one of your sponsors if they’re willing to donate their location for the car wash.

    Once you’ve found a location, let the players be creative and take on most of the responsibility - you probably just need one or two adults at the car wash. People will be much more willing to contribute to the fundraiser if the team is doing most of the work. Make sure to provide the team with a meal and some loud music to keep things exciting. Be sure the players know to communicate that participating in the car wash is a huge help to fund your teams or league.

    Golf Outing

    Golf outings require a bit more work but can raise a few thousand dollars (or more) if you are well organized. Golf events typically need to be booked at least 6 months in advance, so make sure you’re preparing well ahead of time. You can contact local golf clubs to learn more about availability - targeting a Saturday or Sunday will make it much easier to get teams registered, but can also be more expensive.

    You should allow players to register an entire foursome, or register as an individual. Make sure you post flyers and share information throughout your community. Some people that just enjoy golf will be willing to play, even if they aren’t affiliated at all with your sports organization.

    Golf courses are unlikely to allow your fundraising event to play at a discount - your players will need to pay to play golf. That’s ok though, because there are plenty of fundraising opportunities you can set up throughout the outing. 

    Here are a few tips to ramp up fundraising during the outing:

    • Sell mulligans for $5 each. If you want the event to be somewhat competitive, you can limit the mulligan purchases to 4 per player. If you just want to raise as much money as possible, make mulligan purchases unlimited.

    • Double Your Money - Paint a circle around the flag on one of the Par 3s - 10 feet in diameter is a good distance to use. You’ll need to have a volunteer stationed on the tee box, and players can “bet” the volunteer that they’ll hit it inside the circle. If they do, they double their money, but if they don’t they’ll “lose” their bet as a donation. You’ll want to make sure about 90% of people won’t make it in the circle :)

    • Sell tickets for a 50 / 50 raffle that can be distributed after the event.

    • Have a banquet style dinner after the tournament and sell tickets to the banquet for $20 each so people can attend the banquet who don’t play golf. You can find a local restaurant to donate the food or sell it at cost.

    FORE! Use your golf outing to help support your youth sports program before your next season.

    50 / 50 Raffle

    A 50 / 50 Raffle or “Split the Pot” is super easy to organize, and they’re a guaranteed win for your organization.

    If you have a charismatic person on your board have them organize a 50 / 50 raffle at your home games, tournaments, and any other exciting events throughout your season. You can use an app like Venmo or CashApp to make contributions super easy, or even use apps made for split the pot raffles like WinHalf or RafflesNow.

    If you have a PA system, remind everyone at the game about the raffle several times during the game and do a final announcement as ticket sales are about to close.

    Preseason Chili (or whatever your favorite local food is) Cook Off

    Cookouts are a great way to have fun with your entire organization before your season. Turning the preseason cookout into a valuable fundraiser is the best of both worlds.

    Using an outdoor area like your field is a great place to host a preseason cookoff - all you need is a few tents and access to electricity so your participants can bring along their slow cookers. If you play a winter sport and the weather is too cold you can use your gym.

    Try to get at least 10 participants to take part in the cook off. You can sell tickets in your community, and allow attendees to sample each chef’s creation to vote for their favorite. Regardless of the size of your organization you should try to sell at least 100 tickets.

    Cook offs are a great way to have some fun, raise some money, and find out who the best amateur chef in town is!

    Since the chili ingredients can be paid for by the participants almost all of the proceeds can go to your organization. You’ll just need a few prizes for the top chefs. The winner can be awarded something fun or goofy - like a personalized jersey of your team with the name “Chili Champion” on the back. 

    Don’t be shy about the price to attend the event. Instead of charging a price like $5 per ticket, you should consider charging $20 or more. You can also set a limit per family, like $50 for a family of four.

    Sponsor an Athlete

    In many cases community members and local businesses don’t know the total cost of playing youth sports. They know your athletes need equipment, but they may not understand all of the other hidden operating costs like facility rentals, referee fees, travel, facility maintenance, league insurance, and more.

    Understanding the true costs, and making a contribution to cover the cost of a player for the season can help community members feel like they are making a direct impact on youth sports in the community.

    What you can do is create a “Sponsor an Athlete” program that allows people or businesses to pay for the cost of an athlete for the season. All you need to do is list out the costs associated with a player and add up the total. You should create a simple spreadsheet so potential sponsors can see the details.

    Totally up the average costs per athlete per year can help explain to potential donors why contributing to your fundraisers is so important.

    When you announce the program you should set an ambitious goal, like selling enough Athlete Sponsorships for 25% of your players. The funds also don’t necessarily need to be used to cover the costs of a specific player - instead they can be used to help with the overall operating costs of your league.

    You should send out emails to everyone that has registered with your organization in the past. Families that no longer have children in your age group may want to continue to support the organization in future years because of the impact your organization made on their child’s life.

    Sell Ad Space on Your Website

    You should use your website as a place to promote your sponsors throughout the year. Even if your website doesn't get a ton of traffic, you should still be able to charge $100+ per year to local businesses to be a sponsor.

    If you get 1,000 or more visitors per month to your site, you should consider charging $500+ to be a sponsor of the website. Encourage website visitors to support your sponsors and post updates to your website each time a new sponsor signs up to help make sponsoring more valuable to local businesses.

    Adding your sponsor logos to your website is a great way to provide value for local businesses.

    Easy Ways to Raise Funds During Registration

    It’s tough to get people to participate in fundraisers, but if you can make it convenient for them to register you’ll get more people to sign up. Be sure to offer the opportunity for parents and coaches to register for your fundraisers or make donations when they are registering at the beginning of the season.

    For example, you can have a question in your registration form like:

    "Would you like to make a donation to our organization for the upcoming season? Donations help support field maintenance, new equipment for players, and scholarships for players. Any support helps!"

    Giving people the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution when they register is a quick way to raise extra funds before your season.

    Using Apparel Store Sales to Boost Fundraising

    Branded apparel, gear, and products are a great way to get players, parents, and other community members showing their pride in your organization. If people can’t buy branded apparel and items with your organization’s logo, you need to set up an online store now.

    The good news is that there are many online platforms to help you sell, print, and ship items quickly - and almost all of them can kick back a portion of sales to your organization. Players, parents, and fans should be able to buy apparel year round online. You can promote your online stores during the months leading up to your season, and during the Holiday season so your team apparel can be given as a gift.

    You don't need to just sell clothing. Companies like Super Fan Fundraising can help sell other branded items including drinkware.

    Setting up an online store can help with fundraising and get more people wearing your team gear in the community.

    Cashing in on Social Media

    Social media is important at your sports organization for communications and marketing, but did you know it can be an effective way to fundraise too?

    First, you should post updates often on social media leading up to any fundraisers. Encourage parents and coaches to share your posts to help spread the word around your community.

    You can also take advantage of all of the fundraising opportunities on each of your pages. Facebook and Instagram each have built in fundraising tools that you can attach to your organization's page. You can also allow individuals to raise money for your organization using their personal Facebook account.

    Don't just use your Facebook page to promote your organization - make sure you're taking advantage of fundraising opportunities!

    Collecting Donations Year Round on Your Website

    Make sure you're giving people the option to donate to the cause directly on your website, year round.

    You should have a section of your website that is dedicated to Fundraising, Donations, & Sponsorships. Information on the different options to support your organization should be prominent and easy to find.

    You should also list sponsor testimonials, quotes from parents about how your organization has made an impact on their child, and the reasons why fundraising is so important to help fund your teams.

    List all of the different ways people can support your organization and make it easy to get involved on your website.

    Looking for solutions to make online donations easy? Learn about some of the top options in our post 5 Powerful Tools to Collect Youth Sports Donations.

    Putting the “Fun” in Youth Sports Fundraising

    Fundraising in youth sports often feels like a chore. After all, who wants to ask people to buy overpriced items from catalogs? Or go door-to-door peddling products? With some creative thinking, you can avoid these tired tactics and make money for your league.

    A simple restaurant night can net hundreds of dollars with little effort. Running a golf outing or car wash is a bit more work–but can be very rewarding. Creating a "Sponsor an Athlete" program gives community members a reason to feel good about supporting your organization. And many families are willing to offer small contributions when they register that can add up to make a big impact each season.

    Experiment with some new ideas and find the right mix for your club or league. Whatever you choose, don’t forget the fun. You’ll get more support if people enjoy what they’re doing instead of viewing it as an obligation.

    A few new activities may be all you need to surpass your fundraising targets and take your league to the next level.

    Additional Resources

    How to Find Companies that Sponsor Youth Sports

    How to Build a Website for a Youth Sports Program

    How to Apply for Grants for Youth Sports

    Attracting Sponsors to Your Youth Sports Organization

    5 Powerful Tools to Collect Youth Sports Donations