Our Guide to Fundraising gave an overview of the different types of fundraisers available for sports teams and organizations. Now it’s time to delve into a specific fundraiser. Our focus this time is “A-Thons”.
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FUNDRAISER: An “A-Thon”
EASE OF ORGANIZATION: Medium
SUMMARY: Players seek pledges per accomplishment or simple donations for participation
Like the summary says, players participate in some sort of activity for which they seek donations. The type of activity they complete can align with the type of sport or group they are raising money for or they can plan a fun off-shoot.
Two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two and so on. Organizational meetings are the backbone for any well-run fundraising event. Therefore, holding structured meetings will not only help you hash out the details of your event, it will also help you delegate the required tasks. Even if you are part of a small organization, gathering a couple of parents to help you organize will take a GIGANTIC load off your shoulders.
Items to discuss during your meetings:
- Event type
- Event day management
- Equipment needed
- Receipt accounting
Types of “A-Thons”
The first organizational step of any “A-Thon” is to select the type. This could be sport-specific, or it could be a fun off-shoot. Picking the type will lead to the next steps of your plan.
Here are some “A-Thon” types you can organize:
Baseball / Softball – This is the one to be aware of. The term “Bat-A-Thon®” is trademarked by a company who sells their fundraising system. You must pay them a licensing fee which can be as much as 9% of your profits. However, with a little creativity you could organize a Slugfest, Hitfest, Tee-Off, Home Run Derby, etc.
Basketball – Shoot-A-Thon (shots made)
Bowling – Bowl-A-Thon (pins knocked down)
Football – Lift-A-Thon (total pounds lifted)
Golf – Putt-A-Thon (putts made)
Soccer – Kick-A-Thon, Shot-A-Thon (goals made)
Swim – Swim-A-Thon (laps, lengths or distance completed)
Track & Field – Walk-A-Thon (laps or distance completed)
Cheerleading – Dance-A-Thon (hours/time danced)
If you are looking for a fun way to enhance participation you could consider an event which doesn’t align with your sport. For example, how fun would it be to have a Sing-A-Thon where a soccer team pledges to karaoke for a number of hours or number of songs? This type of event doesn’t have to be limited to the players. Parents, friends and siblings could also participate.
Here are some other fun non-sports fundraisers:
Non-Sports Specific A-Thons – Read-A-Thon (books read), Skate-A-Thon (laps skated), Work-A-Thon (tasks completed ie, lawns mowed, dogs walked, lawns raked, etc.)
Estimate Quantity Expected
Once you pick your “A-Thon” type you need to make an honest estimation of how many of the activity each participant is expected to complete as part of the event. This becomes important because you would hate for Grandma to pledge $1.00 per activity then have Little Tommy complete 500 of that activity. While it would be awesome, in all likelihood Grandma does not want to donate $500 to your organization. Maybe a $0.10, or even $0.05, pledge is more appropriate. However, if the activity will only garner results of 50 or under then a $1 pledge could be more in line.
Donations can come in two forms. The first, and most obvious, is a pledge. Pledges are an amount of money which will be donated per activity completed. For example, if a swim team is holding a Swim-A-Thon where members of the team are going to swim laps, they will seek pledges from each donator per lap completed. Typical amounts, depending on the expected quantity, are under $1 per activity completed.
The next type of donation, and by far the easiest, is a flat donation. This takes calculating pledges earned out of the equation. Simply stated, this is where Grandma gives the participant $20 no matter how much of the activity they complete.
The most successful “A-Thons” allow both types of donations.
As with all fundraisers, “A-Thons” require some promotion but not quite as much as would be required for event promoted outside your organization. “A-Thons” mostly require internal promotion. This entails educating the parents and participants on the details of the event. Outside promotion will only be in the form of the participants asking family, friends and neighbors for pledges via in-person selling, phone calls, social media asks and email.
A simple one-page flyer with all the details sent to the parents at least 30 days prior to the event date should suffice. The flyer should include:
- Name of the Event
- Details of the activity which will be completed
- How and when donations will be collected
When healthy competition is a part of a fundraiser, your receipts will grow exponentially. “A-Thons” are no exception to that rule. During your initial organizational meeting you will want to discuss incenting participants for meeting and exceeding certain thresholds. Prizes can be anything from donated coupons to local stores and restaurants to team prizes if you have more than a few teams participating.
Our local little league incented the team with the most donations with tickets to a local Minor League baseball game for the players and three family members. We did this on $2 Tuesdays when the tickets were $2 and some menu items were discounted as well. While this would be too expensive for a one-team fundraiser, it was a great incentive because we had over 30 teams participating and it included the families which, let’s be honest, do a lot of the work.
Accounting for Receipts
Accounting for your monetary receipts can make or break any fundraiser no matter the type. This is especially true if you plan to repeat the event yearly. Above board accounting will create credibility in your event. To accomplish this there are a couple of avenues to explore.
Each participant should receive several donation sheets which they will use to gather the donation information. A sample donation log is linked below:Guide to Fundraising A-Thon Donation Sheet
No fancy accounting software is needed. A simple MicroSoft Excel spreadsheet is all you need to automatically calculate the amounts owed. Your spreadsheet should include the following columns:
Dedicated Bank Account
If you have an ongoing fundraiser it might be a good idea to open a separate checking account specifically for it. This makes for easy, streamlined accounting as all credits and debits are directly related to the fundraiser.
It is imperative that collections be immediate and complete. This creates a sense of urgency. Creating a due date of no more than seven 7 days after the event gives the participants plenty of time to got back to their donators, collect the pledged money and turn it in.
If you will hold this fundraiser again, you should have an “MBDL Meeting” after your event has concluded and all donations have been collected. MBDL stands for More, Better, Different, Less.
- Things you/your committee could do MORE of next time
- Things you/your committee could do BETTER next time
- Things you/your committee will do DIFFERENT next time
- Things you/your committee will do LESS of next time
During this meeting you will debrief on all the aspect of the fundraiser. To help guide the conversation here are some aspects of your event you can explore:
- Event Day Management
This meeting should include:
- Your committee – if you have one
- A representative from the parents who participated – there may be parents right on your committee
- A representative from at least one team – this might be the coach or the Team Mom – whoever coordinated the participation of their team.
Having a complete timeline will help make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
|Item||Date to Complete|
|Initial Organizational Meeting||Day -60|
|Flyer to parents||Day -30|
|Organizational Meeting||Day -20|
|Secure Volunteers||Day -20|
|Send home donation sheets||Day -15|
|Event Day Set-up, Train volunteers||Day -1|
|Pledged Amount Due||Day +7|
|MBDL Meeting||Day +10|
If all this appears too complicated, check out Anython.com. Using this online program, you can create your event and upload participants, share the event via social media, upload the results and collect your donations.
Anython is an online portal which enables pledges and collections electronically and immediately. When a donor signs up, they agree to pay a minimum flat donation, or a per-unit pledge that equals at least the established minimum. If they pledge per activity completed, they are required to enter credit card information up front. However, they will not be charged until the participant completes their Anython. The card will be automatically charged and they will receive a receipt.
Upon completion of the event, the donor will receive an e-mail informing them the total they are being charged. Anython will then charge their credit card to complete the payment. For instance, if participants in a Jog-A-Thon promise to run between 10-30 miles and they pledge of $1/mile, the participant completes 24 miles, the donor will be charged $24 (with an option to pay $1.50 towards processing fees).
Having some kind of website or at least a landing page for information is important to the success of any fundraiser and Anython has that covered as well. They offer fundraisers a website which is automatically created when the event is set-up. This website can be shared via mass emails and social media.
As we discussed earlier, prizes can encourage participants to excel. Again, Anython to the rescue. Participants are incented in the form of a raffle at the launch, throughout the weeks and at the main event. Usually there is one to two main raffle prizes, as well as weekly challenges to earn more raffle tickets. All prizes are tracked, coordinated and delivered by Anython.
As with all good things, there is a charge for Anython’s services; 8%. All fees are deducted from each transaction automatically. All things considered, this is quite a saving when you take into account the time, effort and supplies it takes to run a successful fundraising event.
If you are a one-woman-show, Anython will be a great way to help you stay organized without requiring too many volunteers.
When organized correctly, “A-Thons” put the FUN in fundraiser and can be a great way to mitigate the expenses of travel sports. If you have any questions, please comment below.
Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms 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 club owner. She is also a travel consultant for Looking Glass Travel specializing in Disney destinations. You can follow her on Twitter at @JazzinDisneyMom.