We all know the typical fundraiser routine. Coach or parent-in-charge hands out forms to buy candy bars, wrapping paper, candles, frozen cookie dough, or subs. The athletes’ parents quickly hit up everyone on their email list for donations. The money goes to a good cause – the kids themselves! Sports leagues put it back into the community to help buy uniforms, equipment, and support training clinics. But, what about donating it to someone else? Supporting local (or even national) organizations by fundraising and service projects gives the kids a chance to learn about giving and teaches them that teamwork happens both on and off the field.
Pro sports teams do charity fundraising and community service in spades. Use the professionals as role models and start your own team donation project. How?
Piggyback on the pros
If you’re not sure where to begin, pick a charity organization that belongs to a pro athlete who plays in the same sport as your team. Peyton Manning’s Peyback Foundation serves disadvantaged children, the Mia Hamm Foundation raises awareness about bone marrow donation, the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism helps children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and that’s only a few of the famous celebrity sports figure charities out there.
Stage a special tournament
Celebrity sports stars do, and so can your players! After choosing charity, set up a fun-filled game that takes the kids and the families above and beyond regular season play. Invite the entire community, donating admission/ticket funds to the charity, you can also set up a concession stand to get even more donations. Make the event truly stand out with a silly theme (such as Halloween costume basketball) or try the adults vs. kids game.
Work for it
Take a break from lifting in the weight room and do some heavy lifting for a good cause! Ask your team to volunteer to help clean up at a local nursing home or the community park or find some other work-related service opportunity that’s age-appropriate. Wear team shirts or your team’s colors. Don’t forget to ask the families to help out too. The more hands to help the better. Cleaning up at home is never fun, but if you’re doing it with your friends and for a good cause you will discover it's actually a good time.
Teach a new team
If you have older kids on your team, have them volunteer in an underprivileged area. Not all kids have the same opportunities when it comes to playing sports. Some communities might not have leagues, and if they do not every child can afford to play. Set up a free-of-charge clinic in partnership with a community center, rec center or school that serves less fortunate families. Invite the community out for a day of sporting play!
Send a message
Sometimes all a charity needs is a little word of mouth – or advertising. After choosing a cause, design special team shirts that announces it. Wear the team shirts during a major game and add signs to the field. Add a website or email address to the shirts/signs for taking donations. The message shirt is a nice change pace when it comes to branded, logo or advertising-based t’s.
Not all fundraising efforts have to go directly to the team. Even though your players need funds to keep their play-time alive, they can also learn valuable lessons by giving to others. Along with these ideas, you can take traditional money-making efforts (such as selling team merchandise or having a raffle) and turn them into charity work. The important part is to get the team in on the action, motivating them to give back to the community.