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Six Secrets to Fundraising Success

After 18 years of working in the amateur sports industry and helping thousands of teams like yours raise the money they need quickly and profitably, My Sports Dreams, a fundraising program we’ve stumbled upon at STG, has learned six secrets behind successful fundraising.

And guess what? They’re ready to share them with you.

Follow them and you will increase the likelihood of raising $5,000 or more for your team. Ignore them and you risk falling into the mundane task of selling candy door-to-door.

So take 10 minutes right now and read this valuable report. It could be one of the best coaching moves you make all season:

1. Selling does not work: For starters, the typical 50/50 split with product companies means that half or more of every dollar you collect disappears. Ask yourself: how many games would your team win if the score was cut in half? Not many. Plus, most players hate selling, which is why parents end up buying so much of the products athletes are supposed to be selling to other people. In addition, parents normally don’t have time to shuttle kids around to the grocery store, in front of Wal-Mart or in circled neighborhoods to sell door-to-door.

2. Make sure you can earn thousands: Don’t play a 4-5-1 is you need to net an equalizer! Too many teams make the basic mistake of starting a fundraiser only by collecting $1, $5 or $10 from supporters at a time. Before you begin, do the math and work backwards from your goal. For example, if your team of 15 athletes needs $3,500, you would need to sell 7,000 candy bars for $1 each (467 sales each), 800 raffle tickets for $5 each (53 sales each), 700 discount cards at $10 each (47 sales each) or 300 magazines for $20 each (20 sales each).

The enormous quantity of items you need to sell makes it nearly impossible to succeed, especially if you need to raise more than $3,500. You are wasting a great opportunity to earn even more money when you collect less than $20 per transaction. It’s a common mistake: a family friend – who would be happy to donate $50 or more to your athlete’s cause – buys your $20 magazine and your team loses out on earning an easy $30 extra.

3. Get it done quickly: Another big blunder is getting on the “fundraiser of the month” merry-go-round: Sell cheesecakes in January, hold an auction in February, a bake sale in March, sell Easter baskets in April, can at the mall in May, and so on.

Too much time spent fundraising wears everyone out and the law of diminishing returns takes over. Each fundraiser does worse than the one before it because the coach, parents and athletes run out of time, patience and enthusiasm. We call it “fundraising fatigue.”

Focus instead on a concentrated effort to accomplish your goal in one shot that takes hours instead of days, weeks or months. One quick and profitable fundraiser per year allows you and your athletes to concentrate on winning games, not trying to become full-time fundraising professionals.

4. Earn a high profit margin: Count the profits, NOT the gross. The old fashioned fundraisers trick you to focus on collections instead of profits. They turn your student-athletes into a sales force for their products AND they get to keep at least half the collections. What a great deal … for them!

Don’t even consider a fundraiser unless you have a realistic opportunity to keep 70% or more of the total amount collected. You need that money for team travel, uniforms or equipment -- not to make some fundraising company rich!

Also, don’t be fooled by fundraisers’ sales pitches that promise you’ll “earn up to 90%,” because that usually requires your athletes to make an unrealistic quantity of sales. Make sure to read the fine print behind any offer that sounds too good to be true.

5. Choose a strong leader: If you’re taking a team trip, or purchasing equipment, every one of your athletes is going to benefit. So, why would you even allow participation in the fundraiser to be optional? Too often, the standard 80-20 rule applies (80% of the team’s results come from 20% of the athletes) and it’s just not fair.

Equal participation in any project should be a requirement. Enforcing universal participation is a challenge that requires leadership, but leadership is exactly what’s expected from a coach and what a good coach expects from his or her athletes.

Coaches who demand full participation – and demand that every athlete devote his or her best possible effort – always raise the most money. Coaches who present a fundraiser as an optional project and without any urgency, usually fail.

6. Eliminate your risk:Avoid any fundraiser that requires you to pre-pay for their products or penalizes you if you fail to reach your sales goal.

Too many coaches pre-purchase food (candy, cheesecakes, donuts, hotdogs, etc.) or custom print their team’s logo on products (sweatshirts, hats, discount cards, etc.) only to find out that the unsold items cannot be returned for credit.

Choose a fundraiser that will cover all start up fees and charge you only for the items you actually sell. Your fundraising company should invest in your success, not hinder it.

For the best way to raise money (and to follow these secrets), check out the program at

My Sports Dreams

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