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22 Ideas for Booster Club Fundraising During Covid-19

by Jim Connelly, founder of BoosterSpark

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically impacted schools, sports, performing arts, and fundraising events. It could be a long time before your booster club will be able to organize traditional fundraising events like dinners, auctions, 5K's, etc.

But there is good news: (A) there are many easy ways to fundraise during a pandemic, (B) businesses can afford to be sponsors of your club if you offer appealing, COVID-friendly benefits, and (C) many businesses and people never stopped working & continue to have disposable income. Do not be afraid to ask for financial support. In fact, remind potential donors that their support is needed now more than ever.

Here are 22 booster club fundraising ideas to help get your club through the pandemic:

BONUS IDEA: Naming Rights
For an extra burst of profit, you can sell "naming rights" to any fundraiser. Agree to put "brought to you by" followed by one sponsor's logo or name on everything tied to the fundraiser (website, shirts, programs, advertising, banners, etc) in exchange for a generous donation.

1. Covid-Friendly Sponsorship Benefits
Your biggest revenue opportunity will always be sponsorship. Local and regional organizations are eager to reach your families and be seen as supporters of the community. You will earn more money per hour through this channel than auctions, dinners, membership, spirit wear, etc.

However, during a pandemic that restricts or prohibits crowds from gathering, sponsors won't be interested in scoreboard advertisements or ads in a concert program. You'll need to get creative.

Perhaps the most successful benefit is one that will appeal to both sponsors AND members. Encourage sponsors to offer benefits to your members. For example, a sponsoring restaurant might offer a free drink with a sandwich purchase to anyone who shows their booster club member card. (Don't have member cards? No worries, those are included when you sell memberships through BoosterSpark.) A plumber might offer a 20% discount to anyone who presents their member card. You get the picture. The idea is to generate new business for the sponsor by giving members benefits, too.

You may be able to display sponsor logos on highly visible banners at your school or athletic field. Make sure they are visible to the general public even when school is closed and/or teams are not playing.

Use eblasts to send sponsor offers to families. Include all families, not just members. Doing so can generate new membership sales while promoting sponsors to a larger audience.

Give each sponsor a page on your website where they can promote their business, display photos, link to their website, and publicize offers. Sponsors automatically receive this benefit when your website is powered by BoosterSpark.

2. New Sponsorship Opportunities
The pandemic created demand for sponsorships in markets you might not normally consider. For example, many colleges saw lower applications and enrollment during COVID-19 and will be eager to market to their target audience (high school students and their parents). Fewer patients are going to dentists, hospitals, and doctors. Restaurants are desperately seeking ways to generate business. Reach out to as many businesses and organizations in your community as possible!

3. Community Hunt
Sell tickets to a "Bulldog (or your team's mascot) Hunt". Define a two-week window for the hunt and allow ticket holders to participate at any day & time of their choice during the window. Explain that some items on the hunt could be located inside businesses and therefore might only be accessible during business hours.

Create an 8.5"x11" poster that includes the name of your hunt and the logo of your club, team, or school. Give each poster a large unique number. These posters will be visible to the public, so to maximize your revenue, include a small explanation of the hunt and invite the public to buy tickets and participate in the fundraiser.

Place your posters in secure, weatherproof locations throughout your community (with permission, of course!). Possible locations include your sponsors, inside town hall, a window of the school, a concession stand in a village park, etc.

Craft fun clues to each poster and only share clues with paid participants. Ask participants to take a selfie next to each poster. To be eligible for prizes, participants will have to email all of their selfies to an email address your club can access. Choose winners at random from the submissions you receive. Prizes could be donations from sponsors, the community, your spirit wear store, and/or a portion of the ticket sales from the hunt.

4. Spirit Wear Tent Sale Extravaganza
Rent a large tent and conduct an outdoor, socially distanced, masks required, one day only Spirit Wear Tent Sale Extravaganza. Note that you do not have to offer discounts; “sale” simply means you’re offering merchandise for sale. Tell everyone in the community that your goal is to raise $10,000 (or whatever amount) through spirit wear sales in one day. Remind them that all profit from spirit wear sales goes directly to the (school/team/department) to fund (insert benefits here). Schedule a rain date to be safe. To encourage attendance, invite everyone who attends to register for a $100 gift certificate or other attractive prize. You can even ask the tent vendor to donate the rental. If they say no, offer to barter a sponsorship for a free tent rental.

5. Game Night
Using a video platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet, host a virtual game night (or nights). Sell virtual tickets (maybe $20 per seat), send meeting credentials only to paid participants, and offer prizes to winners. Games could include Trivia, Bingo, Pictionary, etc.

6. Sell Memberships Online
Make sure your club's website is ecommerce enabled, mobile-friendly, and ready to sell memberships to anyone at any time on any device. BoosterSpark-powered club websites allow you to sell memberships in a contactless manner, will automatically thank members by name on every web page, and makes it very easy to renew or upgrade a membership.

7. Sell Sponsorships Online
Your club's website should be able to sell sponsorships, record sponsor information, offer easy renewals, automatically display sponsor logos on every page, and provide a web page for every sponsor. You can achieve this and more by using BoosterSpark.

8. Collect Online Donations
Online donation buttons are a funny thing. If you put one on your website, no one will ever click it. But if you give people a reason to click, many will. So, first make sure your website has the ability to collect one-time and recurring donations. Then, give people reasons to donate. Use reasons like there in a donation campaign:

9. Goal-Specific Campaigns
Give people a reason to provide financial support. Define a goal, then promote the heck out of it. For example, you can choose a date and a target number of memberships or membership dollars. A campaign titled "101 by 10/1" could ask the community to reach the goal of 101 booster club memberships by October 1st. Ask the community to rally and help your club generate enough membership dollars to hit the goal of raising X amount of dollars to be gifted to the school/team/department your club supports. If you have a specific item or investment in mind, be sure to tell potential donors something like "We need to raise $1,000 to fund the purchase of _____. Will you help us reach our goal? Every dollar helps, no donation is too small (or too large!)"

10. Virtual 50/50 Raffle
After making sure you have permission from your local or state authorities, conduct a 50/50 raffle. With a 50/50 raffle, all ticket sales are split between the club and the winner. Set a price for a ticket ($1, $5, $10, etc) and invite the public to buy tickets through your website. Simply use the "donate" function on the website and ask customers to type “50/50 raffle" in the comments when making the donation. Be sure you define an end date for ticket sales, a method for fairly selecting a winner at random, the date when a winner will be announced, how the winner will be notified, and when/where the winner's first name and initial will be listed on your website.

11. Supporter Cookbook
Go old school. Ask your community for their favorite family recipes and then publish the recipes in a cookbook. Sell the cookbook in an online event. You could also continue to offer the cookbook for sale after the event, but you will maximize sales by having an "order by" deadline before shipping any cookbooks. Cookbooks can be offered as digital PDF files or printed books. Printed books will take more time and investment; PDF versions might be best, especially for your first year.

12. Online Auction
During a pandemic, you can't hold a live, in-person auction. But you can still host an online auction fundraiser. Online auctions require less work and can draw from a larger audience. Use great photos of auction items and utilize an online auction provider such as biddingowl.com or charityauctionstoday.com.

13. Drive-In or Open Air Performance Night
Consider setting up a stage and sound system in the school parking lot or athletic field for a school band, drama, or variety performance. Charge admission, strictly enforce social distancing, and consider selling simple concessions (bottled water, chips, candy bars) from a golf cart (do not ask attendees to stand in lines at a concession table).

14. Photo Contest
Host a photo contest. The subject matter could be pets, travel, or another theme of your choosing. Participants pay a $20/photo fee to enter and can submit their photo via email. Voting can be conducted by your booster club's board or by the public. The top winners earn a percentage of entry fees: 15% to first, 12.5% to second, 10% to third, 7.5% to fourth, and 5% to fifth. The club keeps the remaining 50%.

15. Virtual Membership Sales Event
First of all, never call it a "virtual membership sales event." That's just a descriptive title so you & I know what it really is. But to the public, it is the "New Mascot Unveiling" or "Virtual School Tour Event" etc. Pick something that potential members really want to know or see or learn and offer it in a virtual event on Facebook Live. Publicize it heavily and make it clear that this is a one-time only thing. No replays, so if you miss it, you'll never see it again in the future. This approach maximizes attendance.

When you have the event, make a professional, persuasive presentation about your club's purpose and the financial challenge you face this year. Describe ways people can become members and sponsors. Encourage them to buy right now via your BoosterSpark-powered website. Then, provide the advertised value (mascot unveiling, walking video tour of the inside of the school, etc).

16. Use Video to Sell Sponsorships, Memberships
This is a variation of the virtual sales event. Record a short video — everything in #3 above except the mascot or tour — and post the video to YouTube. Then, embed that YouTube video on your website so you can make a video presentation to any interested member or sponsor when they visit your website. Send a link to the video and an enticing call-to-action via email to all families. And, promote the videos on your club's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

17. Virtual Concert
Sell tickets to a livestream event featuring your school's band, choir, and/or popular bands in your community.

18. Reading Fundraiser
Invite students to commit to reading and ask their friends & family to sponsor them financially for every page or hour of reading. Then, collect donations based on the number of pages read or hours read. Have a defined start and end date for the reading period and for the the collection of funds. Give prizes to the top readers and top fundraisers.

19. #GivingTuesday... any day of the year
You've probably heard of #GivingTuesday. It occurs on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a day when Americans are encouraged to donate to charities. It's a great idea in principle, except it puts your charitable organization up against every other organization on earth and forces donors to choose who to support. We recommend you create your own Giving Day at a very different time of year. Perhaps it's the anniversary of the date your school opened. Call it #SupportingBulldogs and rally your community to donate that day on your BoosterSpark-powered website.

20. Rubber Duckie Race
Ask your community to "adopt" a rubber duck for $5. Each duck has a unique waterproof number on it. Drop all ducks into a creek or a river at the same time. The duck that crosses the finish line first wins, and the person who adopted that duck wins the grand prize. Offer prizes for the top 3 or 5 or 10 finishers. The bigger the grand prize, the more participants you'll attract.

You'll need a net at the finish line to collect all the ducks, and you may need someone standing in the water to catch the winning ducks. You may also need permits from your municipality and/or permission from property holders.

During social distancing, do not allow duck adoptees to watch the event live. Instead, livestream it on your Facebook page. Make sure to capture the start and finish of the race so everyone knows it was conducted fairly.

21. Amazon Smile
Everyone is shopping online these days. What if your club could earn a percentage of every sale? When your club has a free Amazon Smile account, shoppers can choose to support your club through smile.amazon.com where they will find the same Amazon site they know and love with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charity of their choice. Sign up for AmazonSmile and ask your community to support tour club every time they shop on Amazon.

22. Take Advantage of BoosterSpark's Special COVID Pricing
Booster Spark exists to help booster clubs maximize the impact they make on their communities. We understand your club is facing a dire financial situation during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we created two nee, affordable, subsidized pricing plans that will make it easier for your club to raise more funds.

We want to help your club get back on solid financial footing by (A) providing your website infrastructure, (B) teaching you how to raise money through memberships and sponsorships, and (C) saving you money along the way with discounted pricing plans. We normally charge a fixed monthly fee, but during Covid-19, we are giving clubs two new options to reduce your risk and lower your costs:

  1. $44/month + 5% of online sales
  2. $1/month + 10% of online sales

Click here to get started with your very own BoosterSpark subscription.

Conclusion
There are countless creative ways you can approach booster club fundraising in the age of COVID-19. Tune out the negative news, focus on the possibilities, and be the light that leads your community to a successful fundraising year!

Who Wrote This? Jim Connelly, founder and lead developer of BoosterSpark, is past president of a booster club in the Chicago suburbs that donated over $40,000 to his children's high school annually. The Illinois State Board of Education presented Jim with the Those Who Excel Award of Meritorious Service in 2017 recognizing his extensive booster club service. During his tenure, he created and coordinated an annual 5K fundraiser, managed an engraved brick fundraising campaign, created a sponsorship program, enhanced an existing membership program, increased sales of spirit wear, initiated new volunteer recruitment programs, guided the volunteer team that won the $5,000 Buffalo Wild Wings Spirit Challenge two consecutive years, launched an informative club website, ensured the club was properly insured, researched 501(c)(3) compliance, and increased annual club revenue. Professionally, Jim has been a business consultant trusted by companies in over 100 industries since 1996.
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