So I am a coach out here in Utah and we are getting ready to recruit for our second season. Last year was awesome and we can't wait for round 2!
But funding was a big problem last year for lots of teams. There just wasn't a lot of businesses will extra cash on hand willing to help out a team like ours. And even when there were, it was really hard for the coaches to make the time to go see them. So one of my assistants came up with the idea that we get help from the kids. His original idea was that we would require the kids to do some fun raising to even be on the team. My worry is that could be a little prohibitive for some kids/families.
So we discussed options and came up with this:
We will have two squads; a development squad and an elite race squad. The development squad will be composed of riders who just want to come to practice and develop skills. We will have no fundraising requirement for these kids outside of a team due amount that will help cover travel costs.
The elite team will be our race team. They will be required to provide some amount of funding to be on the team. The amount of funding they are able to provide will be met with a set amount of items we will include; like the kit, new gloves, hat, bottle, etc...the higher the amount the raise, the more our shop sponsor will chip in. If they raise enough, we will also pay for all their races.
This is the basic formula we have come up with. Does anyone have some input for our idea?
Hey Crisco -
I coach a NorCal team. We don't push the fund raising on the kids, but I know some of the other teams have this component. Want the kids to focus on school work and riding, and some have other activities they pursue to their spare time for fund raising can be limited.
As you do, we also have 2 types of riders. Reduced fee for the recreational kids and a NICA registration requirement. The kids who race all pay more into the team fee, and on top of this they pay NICA and race fees. For racers we provide a full kit but not much more. Our team funding goes into league fees, coach and ride leader WFA/CPR/first aid certification and building up supplies such as 2 way radios, shade structures, bike racks, race day food/hydration, training supplies such as CO2, tubes, cables & housing, first aid kits, safety lights and a couple ride leader pow wow meetings.
Most of our team funding comes from sponsorship money. Over a certain amount the sponsor gets a spot on the jersey, lesser amounts a spot on a sponsor banner. A number of the sponsors do it for the love of the sport and kids. Others want to promote their name or brand. We see sponsorship money coming in from outside the bike industry such as dentists, orthodontists, auto repair and body shops, print shops, and larger corporations such as software companies and banks. We put the word out through the team parents, phone calls, and emails. having a parent who is a sponsorship coordinator is a huge help. Early years it was tougher to raise money but more recently it has become a bit easier, but I suppose it will always change year over year. Some teams require a 2 year commitment from sponsors. We/ve found that to be challenging, but it can work for some.
Expensive to run a team.
The kids have a full plate with school and sports and church and...In 10 years of NorCal founding, coaching, and directing it was up to the parents to find resources. When I turned each of my two teams over to new leadership the families had embraced this and it has carried on to this day. Frankly, if you can't find sponsors you are going about it wrong. Perhaps you are looking in the wrong places or expecting too much too early in your community's awareness of your club.
Successful sponsorship relationships need to be built around mutual needs and mutual support. Frankly the spot on a jersey is a very weak advertising factor. No one really sees that stuff. Yet there is a value; one of pride; a tangible display that they have contributed.
Many folks give because they truly give. Family, family and friend businesses give that way. Sponsorship connected to commerce need to have as a goal a a statement of how the team will drive feet into shops.
One of the challenges bike teams face is that they are latecomers to this process, following the manifold ball and stick sports who have plied the community for years. So there is a donor burnout or they are tapped out. And in that is a window. What I hear most often from these fine folks is that the old organizations simply show up with their hand out every year and you don't see them again until they need money.
That said, a clear plan of how you can support your sponsor and following through for the the sponsor has real power. It really gets attention. It builds trust.
The Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay provides cash sponsorships for 10 NorCal teams. The amount of each sponsorship depends on team size but also on how they support our events; our monthly rides, supporting advocacy efforts, joining trailwork crews.
Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 03-13-2013 at 10:02 PM.
I don't rattle.
I think Mike is right in his assessments. Not so much that we had unrealistic expectations; but that we had a hard time working out good solid reasons for a potential sponsor. We discussed "what's in it for them" prior to approaching anyone. This question kept us from going to several places. We had multiple places that expressed interest, but closing was more challenging. The bike shop was our biggest support, and there was a natural connection to getting people in. Utah is lucky in that we have an abundance of bike shops in our towns, but only a few saw the potential of the league. I was lucky that one of my two teams happened to be right next to one shop who did. It wasn't until the owners of the shops came to a race that they had their eyes opened...you know what...that gives me an idea...
In addition to the bike shop we had a couple parent companies that contributed (mostly as a tax write off).
I was also reminded that if we want a non-profit status, we can't give out rewards for fund raising...so that pretty much nixes the idea. But I really appreciate the suggestions. It gives me some ideas for what to do moving forward.
The absolute most important thing to keep I mind is that you have a great product to sell:
1. Health vs.video games
2. A sport where no one sits on the bench.
3. A sport where teens who may never have had a sport will find place. (when I showed up as a freshman to pitching tryouts if had two pair of spikes, 3 bats adn had played since I was 4.)
4. A sport where individual greatness is the goal for each young athlete
5. We are shaping the cycling culture with smart, gracious, powerful riders.
6. These teens express their cycling in the general community and for many years to come. (I'm 61; no way I could play football...)
Two things got my attention:
1. We discussed "what's in it for them" prior to approaching anyone. This question kept us from going to several places.
2. "We had multiple places that expressed interest, but closing was more challenging."
The former seems a door you guys closed yourselves. Yet, you focused on a particular potential donor for a reason. Part of building a relationship is in exchanging ideas. I know that time is precious but the problem of how to serve a patron could be the crux of a good discussion. i.e.; This is what we are doing and how it is moving forward. We're looking for sponsorships and thought of you but, as we want to be able to support you in return, we were not sure how we could do that? This spirit of support is one thing but business is business; is there something we can work out? Chat, chat.chat...in the meantime a small donation is welcome.
The latter? Sorry dude, any salesperson will tell you how hard that is. You review the points of discussion (emphasizing the most positive factors) and suggest that this is a good fit; you look for subtle cues of acknowledgement, pause, and then ask for your contribution; "may be count on you for a contribution?" This must be delivered chin up, directly, and positively; too many do this apologetically. Then the ball is in their court.
If the discussion doesn't find good mutual grip yet, or they say no, you thank them for their time and "I hope you will keep us in mind," then put these folks in your information loop, not as frequently as your parents but updates. Short, to the point emails. Maybe a simple 4x6 17 cent Costco print from a race with your logo photoshopped to it...just wanted to share our success with you....you never want to suck up their time. A parent could facilitate this. The picture gets sat on a desk or actually makes it to a bulletin board. Over a season or two, and it takes time for a community to warm-up to this mtb kid thing, the success rate will increase as you become more well-known and accepted.
That is, it takes more than one meeting for many potential patrons and doors may be kept ajar, not closed. I know that this may not be what one wants in the short-term yet, a feeling of welcome and a longer view takes a lot of the tension out of the process making it easier, more pleasant.
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