Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
For many teams, large and small, fundraising is a tough task that families face. With ever-increasing expenses to run and maintain pools, plus paying for coaches who need to make a living, it’s difficult to make ends meet. Parents are asked for some sort of sacrifice whether it’s donating time, goods and services or hard-earned cash.
I view fundraising as one of the difficult issues I dealt with as a board member. We initiated a mandatory fundraising obligation to get more participation from families. I heard countless excuses of “We don’t have the money.” I’d explain they could raise money without it coming out of pocket only to be met with “I don’t know anyone with money.” In contrast, there was an extraordinary kid who went door to door to local businesses and met his family’s fundraising obligation without his parent’s help. I do understand why parents aren’t thrilled about fundraising after paying monthly dues and being hit with fundraisers for their schools and other activities. But sometimes there is no other way for teams to survive.
Here are eight ideas for swim team fundraisers:
For our team, the hosted meets provide the biggest source of fundraising revenue. Not only does the team receive the bulk of money from entry fees, we host a snack bar and have vendors who give 15% to 25% of their sales of sunglasses, shaved ice, photographs and t-shirts. We also sell program ads, hold raffles and silent auctions. Without meets, the team couldn’t survive. The tough part is the amount of manpower it takes to host a successful meet. Communication is key to getting parents to understand that even if their child doesn’t qualify for a certain meet, they need to volunteer and their family benefits.
From USA Swimming: “It’s a simple, in-pool fundraiser where participants earn money by swimming lengths of the pool. Swimmers ask family members, friends, neighbors, or businesses to pledge a certain amount of money per length, or make a flat donation in support of the team.” This is a fundraiser in conjunction with USA Swimming Foundation and online they provide ideas and help for organizing the event. Our team awards prizes such as an iPad to the top fundraisers and the competition gets fierce. Swimmers used to earn a whipped cream pie to throw in their coach’s face for each $200 raised. That was always a big hit with the kids—but with the coaches—not so much.
I used Scrip back in the day when we’d put in orders for gift cards. I found it easy to buy Scrip for essentials like gas and groceries and our team earned a percentage. It seemed like a no-brainer, except for the mom who was the Scrip coordinator hunting down orders and delivering gift cards. Now it’s online and streamlined without so much work for volunteers running the program.
A lot of restaurants will give back a percentage of sales to teams when they promote a night out for family members. Whether it was Ruby’s or California Pizza Kitchen or a non-chain restaurant, it’s a fun, easy way to raise funds and the kids love eating out with their teammates after practice.
What easier way to raise funds than sign your team up for Amazon Smile? With more and more purchases being made online, it’s a simple way to get extra funds. You can ask your friends and extended family members to sign up as well and increase the number of donors to your team.
We’ve tried to find corporate sponsors and throughout the years we’ve only had one or two. It’s a difficult task to get a company to sign on and give annually to a team. How fortunate to be on a team with a good base of parents who help find sponsors. Be thankful for their ongoing help with your team’s finances.
Once a summer, we’d have a dive-in movie night with the entire team floating on air mattresses and inner tubes watching movies like Finding Nemo or The Princess Bride projected on a big screen. To make money, parents sold hot dogs, popcorn, sodas and waters.
The three-day concert known as Coachella provides fundraising opportunities for local non-profit organizations. Hats off to our swim moms who spent three grueling days—two weeks in a row— selling water bottles 12 and 13 hours straight to earn money for our team. Check out local events that may allow charities to fundraise.
Fundraisers take time and effort and need parents willing to step up and help out. Be sure your team recognizes those putting in the extra time and effort. Maybe they’ll continue and newer parents will be encouraged to help out, too.
In what unique ways does your team fundraise?