Once your kids enter the world of rep sports you're suddenly bombarded with a slew of expenses - club fees five or six times the regular house league registration fees, tournament costs, team costs, uniform costs, equipment costs. The kids' sports, instead of being an incidental cost once a season, become an enormous expense that needs to be built into the monthly budget.
With so many additional expenses for the teams outside of what is covered by registration fees, fundraising becomes an inevitable part of participating in rep sports. Some teams cover these expenses simply by asking parents to write a cheque for their child's share once the budget is set for the season. Some sell popcorn, baked goods, meat. Some run raffles or hold a car wash or a bingo night. Some partner with businesses in the community to raise funds to finance their teams. And some are lucky enough to hustle themselves a sponsor or two to full their team coffers and finance their season.
I have been a parent to rep athletes for several years and a team manager for multiple teams for several more. I have both organized and participated in countless fundraisers over the years.
As a parent of a player, to be honest, I'd really rather just write a cheque for our family's required contribution to the team budget. I'm not a huge fan of hawking things to my friends and family and colleagues and the overhead on a lot of these fundraisers is pretty steep - it's hard to justify buying or selling eight hundred dollars' worth of something just to make seventy-five bucks for the team. I prefer to just set aside enough in our sports budget to cover the contribution ourselves without any hustling.
As a team manager, though, I know that not all parents feel the same way, so I typically offer either a fundraising option or an equivalent contribution amount.
The most successful fundraisers we've ever run have been bingo nights (pros: reasonable overhead, fun for everyone who participates; cons: tons of work to organize and requires volunteers - never easy to come by), meat sales (pros: appeals to those who would rather buy something to feel like they're getting something for their money; cons: ridiculously expensive, have to sell insane dollar value of product for tiny return to the team), and raffles.
My favourite fundraiser, by far, is the raffle - you can customize it every time to meet your team's budget and needs, the overhead is completely within your control and can be kept very low with some smart purchases and a couple of donations from local businesses usually eager to help out, and inexpensive raffle tickets (usually ten dollars each) are a quick and easy sell for anyone. Oh, and it's relatively quick and simple to organize - an important factor when the person organizing the fundraiser works full-time in addition to volunteering twenty hours a week managing a couple of rep teams. And raising three children.
It may not be my favourite part of life in a family of athletes, but the reality is that fundraising is a necessary part of participating in sports at a certain level. It only makes sense to organize a fundraiser that's easy, inexpensive and flexible to meet the team's needs while keeping the cost low for players.