Published online at Boosterland.com
Local business can be a great fundraising source for booster clubs, and most are happy to help. Parents, friends, and fans of student clubs and teams are potential customers, and partnering with booster clubs can be beneficial for both parties — booster clubs can raise funds through established, profitable businesses, and business owners can expand their local client base. But many of these establishments are approached by numerous teams, clubs, and charities for donations, and end up having to make tough choices about who to help. Some instead opt to make a number of donations to multiple groups, but are forced to dole out many small contributions that can be almost ineffective.
The partnership can easily be limited to a single small donation if the exchange isn’t equally beneficial. Local businesses who agree to program sponsorship may simply see their logos on banners, and while that can be important to boosting their reputation in the community, it may not translate directly to customers in seats. On the other hand, if a business chooses to make small, one-time donations, booster clubs miss out on the potential support of the business’s loyal patrons. Fortunately, there are a number of ways booster clubs can ensure that these partnerships are profitable for all involved, and lead to long-lasting relationships with local businesses.
Check out these examples for inspiration, and come up with a way for your club to foster support within the community through partnerships with much-loved local hangouts:
Dining for a Cause: This is a popular and easy way to work within the community for support. Local businesses partner with booster clubs and pledge a percentage of their profits to the club’s cause, sometimes offering supporters a special deal. Partnerships with restaurants and bars lend themselves most naturally to this fundraising model. For example, in Indiana, the Centerfield Sports Bar promised the booster club a dollar for each club supporter who spent at the bar, while the Cooper Booster’s Club asked supporters to bring flyers to a local Hardee’s restaurant. In exchange, 20% of each sale went to the club.
Targeting A Local Hotspot: Almost every town has at least one popular hangout where students shop, work, and socialize. Oftentimes these business owners have strong ties to the community, and are eager to support students. At Lane Tech College Prep High School, a member of the football coaching staff won Lane Tech a hefty prize from a national restaurant chain. His winning contest submission was a video that remembered the local outlet of the chain fondly as a meeting place for the team in his high school years. The partnership was definitely a win-win — both the restaurant chain and the team benefited heavily from the locals’ devotion. Think about the popular establishments in your town, and how you might team up to strengthen a connection with the community.
Drumming Up Business: Teams and clubs host dinners, meetings, and events at local venues, but often miss the opportunity to work with these businesses to build community support. A sponsored event at a local restaurant is a great alternative to the classic spaghetti feed or pancake breakfast (because let’s face it, supporters may be more inclined to cough up the cash for a restaurant-quality meal than for your home-cooked pasta). At the same time, business owners will be glad to see the real, tangible results of their support. Be sure to play to your strengths, and work within the community. For example, in Ohio, the Archbishop Hoban Boosters Club gave their fundraiser a 21-and-over twist with a beer tasting at the local brewery.
In Oregon, the North Bend High School Booster Club hosted a Poker Run, where motorists were sent from business to business collecting playing cards to make up a poker hand. Events like the poker run can be a great way to involve all kinds of establishments — stops can include the local hardware store, clothing shop, even orthodontist. In this particular case, the poker run began and ended at the local motorcycle dealership.
In both cases, the boosters met the locals where they were at, joining them in the places and activities they love. Equally important, the events drove customers into these establishments.
Showing Your Appreciation Online: While many local businesses still proudly display photos and plaques from clubs and teams thanking them for their support, booster clubs should think about acknowledging donors in the virtual sphere. Booster clubs should have an online presence, and they should promote their supporters there, as well. Again, this gesture can be mutually beneficial — if the local tire shop proudly displays the booster club’s logo on their website, they can link customers back to the booster page, and vice versa.
To raise funds and support within your community, think about the places your friends and family frequent. Is there a burger joint kids meet at after school? A market or drugstore that’s been around for years? Think of ways your club can join members of the community at their favorite hangouts, and forge long-lasting relationships.
For more fundraising tips, see our post on Fundraising Outside Your Community.