by Florida Soccer Life

Oh, the joys of competitive sports. Your kids are getting exercise playing the sport they love. They enjoy time spent with their friends while growing as a competitor and the parents create a special bond on the sidelines. But it all comes with a cost. If you are new to the competitive landscape, we want to help you understand what this entails. There are annual fees, uniform fees, coaches fees, ref fees, tournament fees, travel, and hotel fees…the list goes on and on. But it’s worth it and the kids only play sports for so long before they grow up and move out.

So how do people afford it all? How can we offset all of these never-ending fees???? It’s simple, fundraising. Not everyone likes to do it, they feel awkward asking for financial help from their friends and family because well, it was their choice to sign their kid up for competitive sports in the first place. What you have to remember is that while not everyone is going to pull out their wallet eager to donate or buy those raffle tickets there are many people who do.

I have found that the majority of those that help out are the grandparents who miss it all and “remember those days, enjoy it while you can” so they chip in as much as they can. Then there are the supportive parents who are living the same crazy lifestyle you are living so you scratch each other’s backs because you all belong to the same club. The big question is HOW do you fundraise? What can you do? We don’t have cookies to sell like the Girl Scouts.

Here are a few ideas that have worked for our kid’s teams and maybe they will spark some fresh ideas of your own.

The first tip we have is to kick off the season with a fun fundraiser that helps with team bonding. Remember, the teams typically change every year, and the new kids may feel shy to meet their new team. We have found that a fun Car Wash helps with this. Everyone participates, the parents, kids, and coaches, and most of the locals love to help out the kids. The money raised goes into the team’s bank account and now you can kick off your season's tournaments with money without having to pay out of your own pocket. The kids had fun and the ice was broken for them to get to know one another.

Another way to kick off the season is with a Lotto Board. Yes, a Lotto Board. What you do is fill up a poster board with about $250 of scratch-off Lotto Tickets and $100 cash and you sell raffle tickets for ONE lucky person to win the entire Lotto Board. Every family member donates about $20 toward the purchase of the tickets and in return, they receive 10 raffle tickets in the bucket to possibly win themselves. This fundraiser is very popular because most people love to join in with the chance to win it all.

If your season runs through the holiday we have created a Gift Wreath. This Wreath is much like the Lotto Board but instead of lotto tickets, you tie gift cards to the wreath as well as cash because who doesn’t love cash right? You pick one lucky winner before the holidays, and they can use those gift cards for the holiday season.

You can also put together a bundle that includes a cooler full of goodies to raffle off. But another quick and easy one that is fun is the Sponsor a Day fundraiser. This one requires no up-front costs from the team. All you do is select a month out of the year or maybe a few months out of the year and you ask people to Sponsor a Day. For example, if someone would like to sponsor on April 5th all they have to do is donate $5 but if another person sponsors on April 22nd they will then donate $22 to sponsor that day. It’s quick, easy, and fun.

The biggest tip we have on this topic is to understand that not everyone on the team would want to participate in these fundraisers and that is ok. On the flip side, some families actually rely on these fundraisers to help support their child's ability to participate in competitive sports. What was a non-intrusive way to raise money with the entire team is once you have your season's total budget you break that down on a per-player basis. The team manager typically communicates and collects the funds for the team so they will set a deadline for when the funds are due. The communication is that by “x” date each player must turn in “x” amount. The families are responsible for their part of the team fees no matter what so they can either just pay the fees or help raise their part of the team fees. With every fundraiser only those families that participated get to have those funds carved out of their part of their personal fees due.

Fundraising is not necessary, but it definitely helps lift the financial part of competitive sports. All in all, it’s for the kids. If your kid is committed and possesses the skills needed to play above rec league in the sport they love, it’s worth the investment financially and in time. It’s a short-lived part of their childhood before they join the real world. Embrace the moment and try not to blink.

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