10 Winning Fundraising Ideas for Youth Sports Teams
If you’ve been involved in youth sports for a while, you may be accustomed to the high costs that come with your young athlete. One study by Aspen Institute estimates how much U.S. families spend on their children’s sports activities each year—up to $40 billion.
In 2022, that broke down to an average of $883 per season for the primary sport of one child. It’s a hefty bill to foot, especially if there are multiple children and sports involved.
Effective youth sports fundraising is critical to helping many families keep their children playing their favorite sports. Below, we’ve gathered 10 youth sports fundraising ideas to help meet your team’s goals (and have some fun along the way).
1. Gift Card Fundraising
RaiseRight gift card fundraising is a tactic that sports teams, nonprofits, schools, and more have used for years due to its simplicity and effectiveness. You can earn up to five times more than traditional fundraisers with less effort.
It works like this: you earn a percentage — anywhere from 1-20% — back for your team with every gift card purchase. The cashback comes directly from the brand.
Once a family member or team supporter signs up under your team’s code, they can purchase and use gift cards for everyday items or services they would buy anyway (instead of reaching for a credit or debit card). This fundraising tactic doesn’t require extra planning, spending, or effort. Many families can easily earn $1,000 or more per year through regular purchases like:
- Sports gear
- Travel for sports events, work, or vacations
- Groceries and household goods
- Restaurants and entertainment
- Holiday gifts
RaiseRight offers gift card options from hundreds of brands, including The Home Depot, Amazon, Starbucks, DoorDash, Instacart, and more. It’s easy to integrate this fundraising solution into your daily routine.
2. Live Auction
If you haven’t been to one before, you’re in for a treat. A live auction, with the fast-rapping auctioneer at the front of the room and the crowd kitted out with paddles to flash, can be a raucous occasion. The excitement of bidding combined with knowing the money is going to a good cause can lead to excellent earnings for your team.
To make it a success:
- Include at least one showcase big-ticket item to promote and lead up to
- Hire a professional auctioneer
- Aim for auction items that can be easily seen or explained
- Schedule a preview time for everyone to inspect the goods beforehand
3. Silent Auction
A silent auction is the perfect add-on to just about any youth sport fundraising event. Consider combining it with:
- A live auction to double the fun
- A meal event
- A limited sponsorship like a restaurant night
- An end-of-season banquet or party
For a successful haul, pull together one to three dozen auctionable donated items. These can include products or services ranging from the practical to the zany, like:
- Themed gift baskets
- Use of a vacation home
- Lessons from a local pro
- A financial planning session
- A family photo session
- Custom baked goods
- Singing telegram services
Reach out to various contacts or local businesses to acquire an exciting collection of donated goods and services.
4. Chore Squads
If your team members and families are willing to get their hands dirty, how about a chore squad? You can either advertise or auction services available on set dates, and send several volunteers to handle big chores in a single day, such:
- Seasonal yard clean-up
- Window cleaning
- Garage or basement clean-out
- Full housecleaning
5. Ongoing Sponsorships
Chances are, someone in your team’s family network has a connection to a local business owner who may be willing to sponsor your team. That, plus cold calling with a focus on locally owned, non-chain businesses, can be the start of several beautiful relationships.
In return for financial support, sponsors can benefit in multiple ways, such as:
- Promoting their business on the team’s digital and printed materials
- Ads and mentions via website, newsletter, or social media accounts
- Mentions on banners, uniforms, or other high-visibility placements
- Dedicated use of the business, such as post-game group meals at a restaurant
Look for a volunteer with marketing or sales experience to head up this effort.
6. Limited Sponsorship
If ongoing sponsorship is a hard sell, ask local businesses about a one-week or one-day event. In this scenario, they would donate a percentage of sales during that period, and in exchange, team supporters would drum up as many customers as possible to spend money during that time.
In addition to raising their community profile, a business can benefit by converting new fundraising visitors into return customers. Pitch this type of sponsorship to:
- Sporting goods stores
7. All-You-Can-Eat Meal
With access to a community center, church, or school that includes a kitchen and dining area, you can pull together a dining event and cut out the middleman entirely. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all make for delicious dining options.
To that end, you can consider hosting a:
- Pancake Breakfast
- Chili Dog Lunch
- Spaghetti Dinner
- Ice Cream Sundae Buffet
You can also maximize attendance by leveraging time and location. For instance, host a meal or snack that pairs with or precedes a:
- Holiday marketplace or other pop-up shopping event
- Sporting event
- Family event, such as an all-ages music festival, fair, or block party
Keep in mind that for this youth sports fundraising idea, you’ll need to enlist someone who has a background in mass dining (for instance, a caterer or restaurant manager) to help plan the budget, shopping, prep, and volunteer staffing to make it come together.
Golf tournaments are popular fundraising events, and worth considering if you have access to a golf course, volunteers familiar with the game, and a participant pool that’s large enough. You’ll also need to pull together planning, advertising, and donated prizes for the winners.
Not interested in golf? You could also organize a fundraising tournament around:
- Scrabble or another board game
9. Tailgate Party
A ticketed tailgate party could be scheduled before one of your team’s events or in conjunction with a professional sporting event near you. Whether it’s hot dogs and soda or a catered event with a full bar, tailgate fundraisers can scale depending on how much promotion and prep work you want to commit to.
In addition to food and beverages, consider including fun elements such as:
- Games like cornhole, beer pong, or giant jenga
- Team colors face painting
- A bounce house
- Raffle prizes
You can also offer items like handheld battery-operated fans, seat cushions, and team sweatshirts for sale if it’s not against venue regulations.
10. Team Photo Gifts
Among youth sport fundraising ideas, team photo calendars are a tried-and-true practice. However, you can further increase interest and sales by expanding to additional photo-based gifts. With an online photo vendor, you can set up a storefront that allows supporters to choose from a range of photos and gift options like:
- Holiday ornaments
- T-shirts and other clothing
- Blankets and throws
- Mugs and water bottles
- Metal, canvas, or poster photo prints
Optimize Fundraising for Youth Sports with RaiseRight
Gift card fundraising is the easiest way to earn money for your young athletes. Use RaiseRight as your always-on, year-round fundraiser, or combine it with your favorite fundraising events to amplify your earnings. To get started:
- Learn more about how RaiseRight gift card fundraising works
- Visit our sports fundraising page to discover how we can help you and your team
- Download The Gift Card Fundraising Playbook and share it with other parents on the team
Then, get started for free and enjoy an easy, effective youth sports fundraising method that fits seamlessly into your budget and schedule.