Guide to Sports Fundraising

In the world we live in, fundraising is a necessary evil of travel sports. With disposable income decreasing, we need to find better ways to fund our kiddos participation without breaking the bank or sacrificing in other areas of our lives. The easiest way to accomplish this is via fundraising. I know it seems like fundraising is not worth the effort. However, the reward FAR outweighs the effort.

The world of fundraising is an open as your imagination. Almost anything can be turned into a fundraiser. Here are a few ideas to get your imagination jump started.

Types of Fundraisers


A-Thons are fundraisers where players seek pledges which are paid depending on how many “things” they complete. Examples of a-thons are:

  • Baseball/Softball – Bat-A-Thon® Note: The Bat-A-thon® process is copyrighted. You must go through the owners of this process and purchase their materials. However, there are other ways to hold an a-ton in baseball/softball without purchasing their process.
  • Basketball – Shot-A-Thon
  • Bowling – Bowl-A-Thon
  • Cheerleading – Flip-A-Thon
  • Soccer – Kick-A-Thon
  • Swim – Swim-A-Thon
  • Volleyball – Serve-A-Thon
  • General Sports – Jump-A-Thon (Jump Rope), Walk-A-Thon

Boards & Brackets

Boards are a 10 X 10 numbered grid where each donor buys a square. They are typically created for big football games such as the Super Bowl or the NCAA championship game. There are also variations where squares can be shared. Each player would be responsible for selling a certain number of squares.

Brackets are used for the NCAA basketball championships. These tend to be a lot of fun and are easily managed through websites such as CBS Sportsline.

NOTE: Check with your state’s gambling laws. Some states don’t allow these types of fundraisers without requiring you to get a permit and pay tax on your income.

Car Wash

It’s as simple as finding a location, doing a little PR, making some signs and getting all your friends to come get their car washed.

Dealer Drives

Some car dealerships offer test drives where they will bring five or six cars to your location and give you $10 for every person you can get to do a test drive. This is easy money. All you need to do is get “butt in the seat”… literally.

Discount Cards

Discount cards can be a great money maker. They are cards which offer discounts to local eateries and retail businesses in your area. While they do require some upfront grunt work, the payoff at the end can be pretty big.

Fitness Bets

Everyone wants to get healthy so why not get healthy with a chance to make some money. Participants pay money to do some measurable act such as lose weight or walk X number of steps per day. Those who complete the task get their money back and are entered for prized, those who don’t complete the task forfeit their money to your team/club.

This is a win-win fundraiser. On one hand you will to make money, on the other your participants are motivated to get healthy.


Whether it’s a bake sale, a pancake breakfast, a spaghetti dinner or a chili cook-off, food is definitely the way into people wallets.


While typically quite labor intensive, galas with an auction component can bring in big money. Flipping the gala concept on its ear, you could also host a fun fair with auction items and games for the kiddos. This is a great idea if you want to include families.

Giveback Nights

This fundraiser is one of the easiest to put together. It’s as simple as contacting a local restaurant and asking them to host a night where they give a percentage of the gross back to your team or organization. Typically, this is done one of two ways: (1) you send out a coupon which the user must present to their server or (2) the restaurant just give a percentage of their gross for a certain time period (ie. 4:00pm – 8:00pm) or a full day.

Raffle / 50-50 Drawing

Similar to Giveback Nights, doing a raffle is easy-peasy. All you need is a prize and some raffle tickets. To make it even easier you could simply do a 50-50 drawing where the team gets half and the winner gets half.

There is even a new trend in the raffle game, a reverse raffle. This is where tickets are drawn throughout an event and the last ticket in the bowl wins. It encourages people to buy more tickets when their ticket gets pulled before the end. You can even offer small prizes throughout the event for the ‘losers’.

Selling Items

Everyone has been a part of an organization that sold something. The list is long and illustrious and can include things like popcorn, cookie dough, candy, magazines, laundry detergent, etc. Timing on these types of fundraisers can be the key to success. For example, a volleyball club my daughter played for always sells cookie dough in the spring. Great idea, right?? Not so much considering the most successful sales campaigns in the country is going on at the same exact time… Girl Scout cookies.


From offering lawn mowing or leaf clean-up to fun services such as dog walking to flocking (putting flamingos in someone’s yard), there are any number of services your team can offer.

Skills Clinics or Camps

This is a great idea if you have older players. Teams can offer skills clinics and camps for younger athletes in your area. To hold a camp or clinic you will need a facility and at least one player/coach for every five ‘campers’.

Spirit Wear / Merchandise

I am of two minds on this one. First, this is a pretty decent fundraiser if you have a large organization. You could mark up each item $5 – $10 over cost and get a fair amount. Our Little League did this for many years and typically netted over $1,000 a year. My other thought on this is that parents are already paying enough for travel ball, why are we going to gouge them another $5 – $10 just to have some spirit wear. The thought process to run a spirit wear fundraiser really comes down to your audience.

Sport-Specific Tournament

Sport-Specific Tournaments put the ‘fun’ in fundraiser and can be geared to the sport your team plays. Here are some examples of sport-specific tournaments:

  • Baseball/Softball team – Whiffle Ball Tournament
  • Basketball team – 3-on-3 tournament
  • Bowling Team – a bowling tournament
  • Golf Team – Golf Tournament
  • Track Team – Host a 5k fun run
  • Volleyball team – Quads sand tournament.

The fun thing about hosting tournaments is you could host nearly any of these events even if they don’t pertain to your sport. For example, our little league hosts a yearly 5k “Dugout Dash”. Our local high school’s football team hosts a golf tournament. See what I mean, the options are endless.

Team Sponsorships

This is another embarrassingly easy fundraiser. It’s as simple as asking each player to get one sponsorship for a specified amount. You can even send letters to local companies asking them to sponsor your team.

Trivia Night

Higher on the time commitment meter, trivia nights are just that – a trivia competition where you charge a per head fee to participate. However, what really ramps up the income on a trivia night is doing piggy raffles and silent auctions during the event. The actual trivia portion of the event is pretty easy, it’s the gathering of raffle and auctions items that can be the hard work.

Yard Sale

I will be the first to admit, I HATE YARD SALES. However, when our travel team came up with the idea for a team yard sale a few years ago I jumped at the idea. You mean I get to get rid of my junk and I get help in doing all the grunt work. HECK YEAH!!

Fundraising Basics


The key to any fundraiser is promotion. Whatever this means for your team or organization, do it to the hilt. No matter if its email chains, word-of-mouth, social media, or newspaper ads utilize every avenue possible to promote your event or fundraiser. No one is going to show up for your fundraiser if they do not know about it.

Minimizing Time Commitment

Travel seasons can be really long. The last thing you want to do is schedule one fundraiser after another requiring a lot of work from the parents and players. Therefore, when putting together a slate of fundraisers for the season I like to only hold one fundraiser involving the players supplemented by a few smaller fundraisers. For example, our league has a Bat-A-Thon® mid-season supplemented by a few restaurant give-back nights and a 50/50 drawing. The only event requiring the players to participate is the Bat-A-Thon®. The rest of our events are accomplished through our social media channels, word-of-mouth through our coaches and our email chain.


As you can see, there are so many options when it comes to fundraising. In future posts, we will dig deeper into the specifics of each type of fundraiser so make sure to check back soon.

Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 planDisney Panel. She is a team mom extraordinaire who has filled her time serving as secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist for her daughter’s travel sports team for over 15 years before becoming a team owner. You can follow her on Twitter at @JazzinDisneyMom.

Guide to Sports Fundraising







2 responses to “Guide to Sports Fundraising”

  1. […] Guide to Fundraising gave an overview of the different types of fundraisers available for sports teams and […]

  2. […] Guide to Fundraising gave an overview of the different types of fundraisers available for sports teams and […]

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