Roller derby comes with expenses, and if you want your league to be viable, skaters can’t be your league’s only source of revenue. When this is the case, it means that your only option is to start charging skaters more money as expenses rise, and that isn’t sustainable long term – especially if dues become so expensive that skaters leave. Fundraising is necessary to bridge the gap in case of a shortfall. You’d never get on the track without a plan, so why start fundraising without one?
This article will guide you through the process of developing a fundraising plan that will cultivate continuing support for your league.
The first step is to understand your organization’s legal status and what its implications are for your fundraising efforts. fiveonfive has an international readership so I won’t get into specifics, as the implications will be different depending on where you live. However, for example, if your league is a registered charity in your jurisdiction, you may be able to offer tax incentives for people or organizations who donate money to your league. It’s important to understand not only how that affects your plans, but also all the specific rules and regulations surrounding your organization and how it can solicit, receive, and process donations before you proceed.
The next step is for your leadership team to map out your fundraising plan. There will be a lot of considerations. For what would you use the money? How much do you need? Dust off your financial statements and see how much money you need and how it needs to be spent. Set a goal. Almost everyone has seen a giant “thermometer” that tracks a charity’s progress towards a fundraising goal, right? Setting a goal motivates donors and volunteers to help reach it and helps you see what you can reasonably expect to accomplish in future years. There will be ethical decisions you need to make. We in derby are a socially conscious bunch, and there may be people or organizations who may want to give you money but whose money you do not want to take. (For example: a firearms manufacturer that offers grants or a wealthy individual with a checkered history with the law.) I don’t have an opinion about whose money you take, but I guarantee that people who care about your league will. Figure out where you want to draw the line, and create a clear policy.
The next phase is to determine whom you’ll ask to contribute funds. You may choose to target organizations, individuals, or a combination of both. Even if your target group is skaters’ friends and families or the local government, it’s a good place to start. Once you’ve outlined who you think could provide funding, you can begin to develop opportunities for your target groups to give or determine what process you’ll have to go through to secure funding. There are a number of fundraising methods to choose from, but you must ensure that you keep your target group in mind. For example, don’t do a raffle with alcohol as the prize if most of the people in your target group don’t drink. Events are a great way to raise money while raising awareness of your league, but if you are going to do an event, you need to determine whether your event appeals to your target group.
With any method you decide upon, it’s essential to ask yourself one key question: are we building a path towards long-term, sustainable funding or is this a one time thing? A one time influx of cash (I’m going to pick on crowdfunding as an example) might be what your league needs to keep the lights on – and that’s fine. But, when you set up the crowdfunding page again next year, are the same people going to respond or are they going to be annoyed that your league always seems to be begging for money? Your league must build a relationship with your future, present and past supporters. Think of when you used to ask your parents for money. You probably had more success when you made sure to do your chores when asked or offered to do a few extra things or provided that you kept your promise not to blow the money on candy.
Do some work, appeal to your target group, and prove you can be responsible with the money you receive. Just like when you’re on the track, if you set a goal, you always look back and see if you achieved it. Review your success in meeting your fundraising goal with your leadership team. If you met your goal – congratulations! How are you going to reach or surpass it next year? What worked and what didn’t? If you didn’t meet your goal, ask what you could improve upon. Review why it happened and decide what you want to do about it. As you undertake your fundraising journey, it’s not going to be easy.
Fundraising is a chance to do something great for your league and engage your community at the same time. You’re going to have to do some work, especially in the planning phase. You might have to make some unpopular decisions, such as not doing an event that everyone loves but fails to raise money.
Fundraising gets your league excited about reaching a goal. It’s about raising money, but it’s also about allowing everyone to get involved in doing something amazing that can result in great things for you and your skaters.
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