Simpler Sports Fundraising

Make more money and breathe easier: Don't sell anything.

Boy at bake sale
Lisa Pines / Getty Images

With sports fundraising competing with school, and other extracurricular activities, for fundraising dollars, I long ago maxed out on wrapping paper, cookie dough, and all the traditional sales options. I don't want to buy them for myself (and what's the point? it's cheaper to give directly), nor do I want my child to hawk overpriced goods to relatives, friends, and neighbors. For better, simpler fundraising, I like these options that take advantage of what I and others are already buying.

1. Scrip

What it is: Actual and virtual gift cards you can use at gas stations, groceries, hotels, restaurants, department stores, hair salons, and so on. Pay face value and the retailer gives a small percentage (from .5% up to as much as 12%) back to your designated charitable organization.
Pro: It's totally free money! Spend $50 on a card and it's worth $50 to you, but your organization still benefits. Use to pay for stuff you're buying anyway, or give as a gift.
Con: Many organizations participate, so you have to decide how you'll distribute the wealth. And you need to be able to plan and purchase in advance of when you'll need the cards.

2. Passive fundraising

What it is: Create an account with a fundraising system such as ForTheSchools or United Community. When you make purchases with participating retailers, your designated charity earns a small percentage. It's very similar to scrip, except you don't have to budget in advance.

Pro: Like scrip, you earn money on purchases you're making anyway.
Con: You may have to share your credit card information with the system. And you need a lot of participation from your fellow team families in order to make a difference.

3. Business partnerships

What it is: Businesses in your community sponsor your child's team, giving a monetary donation in exchange for recognition on a sign, website, t-shirt, presence at a tournament or other special event, etc.

Or, a store or restaurant may give your group a portion of sales on a certain day. Promote the event to your team's friends and families to bring in more cash. Check with local businesses or chains including Applebee’s, Chipotle, Panda Express, and Panera.
Pro: Busy families need to eat, and you don't pay extra for the privilege of sending money back to your organization.
Con: This is usually only a one-day (or occasional) event, and convincing businesses to participate takes legwork.

4. Bake sale

What it is: Yes, I'm in favor of the old-fashioned bake sale—but with a contemporary twist. Here's why: Concession stands and on-site food vendors at games and tournaments are often full of unhealthy choices and don't make money for your organization. If you can host a sale that includes some nutritious options along with the treats, you're providing a service to your visitors and making money for your team.
Pro: A bake sale is simple to set up and run; have member families donate the sale items and all the profits go to your club.

Con: Depends heavily on foot traffic, as well as contributions from busy parents.

5. Garage sale or sports gear swap

What it is: Member families donate unused or unwanted household items and/or sports gear. Sell it to friends and neighbors for a profit that goes directly to your team or club,
Pro: No cost to your members and everyone gets to rid their home of some unnecessary items.
Con: Can be a big job to organize, and publicity is essential so you attract plenty of shoppers.

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