What is the Purpose of a Booster Club?

by Jim Connelly, founder of BoosterSpark

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 do all of this?"

Each of the genernous 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):

  1. raise funds
  2. give kids opportunities
  3. 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.

Learn how to design profitable booster club membership plans and sponsorship plans.

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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WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER. BoosterSpark does the busy work for you so you can focus on maximizing the impact you and your club make. It's a web-based suite of tools that fuels booster club growth and success:

  • Have A Club Website
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  • Sell Donations
  • Sell Memberships
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  • Offer Activity Passes
  • Accept Online Payments
  • And More...
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