Inexpensive, effective and real-time options drive marketability of small properties — and that news couldn’t come at a better time.
Last week’s SBJ cover article “Running on Empty” laid out the state of high school athletics in the US. Cuts and cuts and more cuts mean that schools are hard-pressed to provide athletic programs. Increasingly coaches are taking on a second job — not to feed their own families — but to save the programs for the kids they coach. Former semi-pro athletes are becoming semi-pro fundraisers.
While some of the cost-cutting measures (shortening up game schedules, tightening up the radius of opponent schools) are actually in the end run better for the student and are likely a correction of some overly ambitious prep programs, others such as having students pay up to $500 to play for a school team aren’t so great. Even if there is some fee relief for those in need. Last time I checked, most families don’t have that spare $500 these days. And even if they do, it would likely be better plugged into a college fund.
Coaches, ADs and parents: The time is now to grab onto all this nifty tools that are sitting out there for the taking and drive fundraising using some of the tools that social networking has to offer. You don’t have to be an entry level programmer to get these running. A few of the ideas below are also a bit ‘retro’ but they won’t have you wringing out sponges on Saturday morning. Though every now & then that may be a good thing for the cameraderie of it……..
Let’s examine the assets a school team has:
A collective group of teen consumers, highly tech literate, looking to peer influence to make purchasing decisions, avid media, fast food, lifestyle brand observers…..and in a very neatly tied up demographic. What we have here is a 90210 (or 44111 or 02359) focus group. Or better still, a viral marketing campaign waiting to happen. Is there a local company — or a regional base of a national company – that would like to test that out an ad campaign, drive traffic to an event or get the word out about a sale?
And you don’t have to stop at the jocks. Arts & culture programs are suffering the same cuts — all those Glee-wannabes spend more in a day on hair products, funky shoes and iTunes than entire third-world countries in a decade. Why not find a way to get them to sectionals by harnessing all that purchasing power for good? See discount & affinity programs below.
So here’s our choices for the best fundraising concepts that community & school sports groups can put in play to keep the wheels on the (team) bus:
Groupon’s new G-Team Initiative, Group Buying Sites
Ties Groupon deal purchasers to a cause. Sports teams can act as a lead generator for Groupon (or similar online deal site) developing accounts in their community, local merchants get a double dose of exposure as the deal is pushed out to prospective customers while sports team families are also likely to drive the business and the increased sales justify the merchant’s pointing proceeds to the team.
Pick a Card, Any Card
Affinity cards can be credit, debit or stored value cards depending on the size of your group and the availability of offerings by your local financial institutions. These will play off your organization members’ existing shopping habits — eliminating the pressure of a big sales campaign or the push to buy candy bars, calendars or worse that supporters don’t want or need.
Another twist on this is your organization through-selling gift cards, especially ahead of the holidays. The upside of this is that gift cards are available for everyday purchase points, like grocers and drugstores. For two years I bought the cards for our local grocer through our school, not spending a dime more than I would have otherwise but nonetheless helping support school programs. Now multiply that by the football team, marching band and cheerleaders’ parents & grandparents.
Discounts that Drive Local Business
Remember the days when a torn ticket stub got you a discount on your burger after the game? If your local businesses are hurting too much to be able to throw some support the teams’ show them the win-win side of the equation, by showing up en masse Friday night for burgers or pizza — or by dropping off a mountain of dry cleaning on a Thursday — and demonstrating your buying power.
Location, location, location
Use those smart phone apps to get a sponsor onside before you go in to talk to them. Get your crew onto Gowalla or 4Square, or simply tweeting from a local business everytime they go there — and all those middle-aged moms dominating Facebook can talk it up too. Then drop this info on the business you’re targeting. (this would really work best with a larger retailer or a decent sized family restaurant, btw) If you can show them how often your peeps are visiting their shop they’ll likely be that much more inclined to deliver.
Learn Your Lines, Connect the Dots
Budget line items that is. Whatever you spend money on should somehow be sponsorable. Bus charters — car dealers, auto service outlets, tire dealers, rental cars……big side magnet “Joe’s Tire & Lube supports Red Raiders football” transfers to whatever bus shows up, gets seen on the road, in the parking lot and of course, by all the players & fans families. Most importantly, patronize the sponsor and be sure to mention your affiliation when you go in for service.
Next up…the killer app?
Finally, though this is still an “ask” the new Fundrazr app from ConnectionPoint and PayPal enables you to widen your circle by creating and sharing your cause through Facebook.
Every little bit helps and with social media tools its getting easier to make your way through to all the couch cushions and pay phones to gather up the loose change.