When I served as president of a high school booster club, I loved building a sense of community and shared purpose with parents, faculty, coaches, business owners, and local government leaders. But every now and then when the workload became frustrating or I begged volunteers for their time, I asked myself "why do we put ourselves through this?"
Each of the generous parents who stepped up to operate the club were putting in dozens or hundreds of hours of volunteerism every year in exchange for no tangible personal reward. At the end of the year, what would they have to show for their effort? How could I make sure their donations of time and money would maximize the impact we collectively make and the legacy we leave when our term is complete?
Booster clubs provide many benefits. Clubs can recruit volunteers to help staff performing arts events and athletic concession stands. They can foster spirit and support for a team or a school. They can provide opportunities for students and athletes. They can offer scholarships, and much more. But none of this is possible without one thing: money.
I realized the primary benefit booster clubs provide, and therefore the reason why our club exists, is fundraising. Fundraising allows us to foster spirit, build community, and fund opportunities for students & athletes that would have otherwise gone unfunded. An unfunded opportunity = a lost opportunity to open a child's eyes to the possibilities that lie ahead in their future.
Without fundraising, we can't make much impact on the students we support. Sure, spirit and volunteer support have value, but money maximizes the impact and the legacy we leave (not to mention it pays for club operating costs!).
I realized the purpose of our booster club should be (in this order):
- raise funds
- give kids opportunities
- build a stronger community through a common mission, spirit, and volunteerism
Once I realized fundraising is the primary purpose of a booster club, my next move was to figure out how to ethically maximize the amount of money our club raised. I wanted to minimize the amount of volunteer labor required, maximize profit potential, and offer attractive benefits to donors.
There are many ways to raise money, but most methods seemed like we would be pressuring people to buy products they didn't want. They required that our volunteers or kids become unpaid sales representatives for another company in exchange for small commissions paid to the booster club for products sold.
Why work for small commissions, selling unwanted products to your family and friends, when you could offer something people want and send 100% of the profit to your club? I learned properly priced membership and sponsorship plans are the best way to raise large sums of money. By offering valuable benefits to members (families, faculty, individuals) and sponsors (business and organizations), we could charge higher prices and generate higher profits.
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