We know that swimming isn’t a “revenue” sport. I’ve heard people say that a pool is just a hole in the ground that you throw money into. It seems like even busy pools have a hard time operating in the black. High school teams don’t usually get much of a budget and almost all programs rely on volunteers to make things work smoothly. Here are a couple fundraising ideas for raising money for your team.
A lot of parents don’t want to help their kids sell chocolate, discount cards or wrapping paper for fundraisers. They know that they are going to end up spending a lot on that stuff that they don’t really need. Also, not much of the money goes to the team. Instead, create a wish list of what you want, the number of items needed and the dollar amount per item. Then talk to your parents at the beginning of the season. Finally, ask if any of them would be willing to donate money to buy one or several items on the wish list. Often families are willing to give money if they know that it will be used directly for an item that will benefit their swimmer. I got a new set of pull buoys this way once, just by mentioning to a parent that we needed them.
2) Run a Swimathon.
This is what we do for fundraising on my high school team. I love it because the kids do all the work. All the adults have to do is count money and feed the swimmers. I assign our swimmers to a “level” – either 10,000 yards, 7500 yards or 5000 yards depending on their skill and experience. The athletes go out and collect either pledges (an amount per yard) or donations (a flat fee for all the swimming). They turn in their envelopes and we tally up what has already been collected on the day of the Swimathon . Then we give them their envelopes back and have them collect the remaining pledges after the swim. The 10,000 yards can be swum however they want to do it, but they need to make it as continuous as possible (stopping to put on fins is permissible, but not to just stand and chat). We feed them dinner once they are done swimming. I ask each swimmer to try to collect a minimum of $100. The 2 swimmers who collect the most money get dinner with Coach as a prize. Each year my team of 15-20 swimmers collects between $2200-$2800.
3) Sell Advertising.
I have seen this done a couple different ways. Some teams sell ad space in their dual meet or Championship meet programs, while other teams sell lane sponsorships – each lane in the pool has a sponsor logo on the block or on the deck behind the block. If you have an IST scoreboard, or if you are looking to purchase one, you can add a 2 color custom logo panel to the bottom of the scoreboard. On it you can have the sponsor logos for all the companies that helped fund the scoreboard. If you are looking at BOARDWARE, you can sell ads that can run on the scoreboard any time it is not being used for a meet. Just create a PowerPoint presentation with slides for the different ads and run it all day! Your own imagination and your willingness to reach out to local companies are the only limits!
4) Use your network.
One school that I know of used a letter campaign to fundraise for their athletic department. Create a letter that explains what you are raising money for. Include specific items and costs if possible. Ask for donations and tell them where checks can be sent. Add your EIN number if you have one. You can even enclose a pre-addressed and stamped envelope for sending checks back in. Give 10 copies of that letter, along with stamped envelopes, to each of your athletes. Ask them to sign the letter and address and mail it to 10 people they know. You can also send the same letter to your Alumni if you have contact information for them. Have the swimmers address and stuff the envelopes on a Saturday.
5) Work with a professional sports team.
Are you lucky enough to have professional or semi-pro sports in your city? Check with them for fundraising opportunities. Many venues will staff their parking lot attendants and concession stands with volunteers from community groups like your swim team. Depending on the venue they may give you either a percentage of sales or pay for the hours worked. You might be able to make some money in your own school this way. Have your students and parents volunteer to run the concession stand or spirit shop during big games.