the importance of smart fundraising

Changing and Updating to Fit the Times

“OH I DON’T WANT to ask people for money. That’s awkward.” Good thing you won’t be doing that in fundraising! Shocking? Of course it is! This is not only the most incorrect misconception about fundraising but also the most common one. Fundraising isn’t about asking people for money, but building relationships and showing people how they can best support your organization. It also isn’t a slap-dash, easy way to increase a league’s bank account. A fundraising event will only be as successful as the work that was put into it. I’ve often seen, experienced, and heard it being treated as a fix-all for money problems, which it isn’t. It needs understanding, time, and effort in order to work. Let’s face it, everyone in roller derby is busy. Whether you’re traveling from tournament to tournament as a ref, announcer, or NSO, or juggling work, family, and practices as a skater, the very last thing we ever want to hear is “fundraising.” For the majority of people, hearing that word brings to mind a slideshow of sad puppies and kitties set to “In the Arms of an Angel” and seeking donations to the ASPCA, or a person standing on a busy street corner, clad in a bright t-shirt, grasping a clipboard and trying to strike up conversations with harried passerby. However, modern fundraising, especially fundraising in roller derby, looks like neither of these things. Long fundraising campaigns don’t really fit with the constant go-gogo of the typical derby league, but fortunately, there are many available avenues that make fundraising not only easy and fun for the league, but interesting and gratifying for the supporters and donors.


One of the first and most important building blocks to expanding and strengthening a donor/ fanbase is something called a “noncommittal call to action (C2A).” These are forms of engagement with passersby, current audiences, fans, etc., that don’t require them to commit either time or money. People who are brand new to the community don’t want to be instantly asked for money, their time, or effort. It isn’t welcoming, and it doesn’t show that your organization values them; it just shows that you value their money. This is why noncommittal engagements are so important. Encouraging people to follow your league’s social media pages, liking and sharing posts or events, asking them to take a handful of fliers and pass them out or post them on community boards are all examples of noncommittal C2As. These are easy and fast ways of connecting with and engaging casual bout attendees and the first step in building relationships. However, you can’t leave it there. Being active on social media is imperative or this won’t work. Keep your pages and accounts up to date, share events, games, league news, skater news; the more your organization uses social media, the more people you reach. Another pivotal use for your Facebook/Twitter accounts is sharing the impact of your already established donor base. Post about the items donated in a charity drive or the dollars given to help a local nonprofit that you partnered with. Make the efforts of your current base known and thank them often.

Being transparent about money raised, fundraising efforts and events, and finances is not only a must legally, but will help solidify a foundation of trust within your community and potential future supporters.

The more you show how your organization connects with, supports, and appreciates the city/community that you are located in, the more connections you make within that community. Without these connections, whether or not they are monetary or personal, your fundraising efforts won’t increase but will remain stagnant. Too many times, I’ve heard “We’re essentially a skater-funded organization” in regards to a league’s fundraising efforts. 


Social media fundraising is one of the biggest trends in fundraising, and rightfully so. From grassroots organizations to multilevel international nonprofits, it’s able to reach more people faster, easier, and is much more flexible than other “traditional” fundraising platforms. According to Nonprofit Resource¹ the past year there has been a 205% increase in using smartphones and mobile devices for donations and charitable giving. As of 2018, mobile devices accounted for over 57% of internet traffic². The average person between the ages of 16-24 has an average of 6.6 social media accounts, with 3.9 of those actively used on a daily basis, and users between the ages of 25-34 are close behind with an average of 6.2 accounts and 4.2 of those being used daily.³ So why are static, in-person events still the go-to for fundraising in roller derby? Simple, it’s been the status quo for decades. However, times are changing and fundraising should change with it. 84% of Facebook users share and support causes and charities via the platform, as compared with the 55% of millennials who physically attend fundraising events. Utilizing Facebook’s ‘cause’ feature, creating social media campaigns, and sharing online giving tools via the platform reaches farther and faster than a one-off, in-person event. Now, the in-person events are still extremely important for face-to-face relationship building, but a good fundraising committee should utilize both approaches. The same goes for Twitter and Instagram. 55% of Twitter users and 75% of Instagram users take action (visit a site, donate, make a purchase) after seeing a post or clicking on a link. Utilizing these tools in addition to in-person fundraising events will not only increase event exposure but also increase transparency. That being said, social media and online donations shouldn’t be cookie cutter. People are more likely to donate if there is a personal touch, an appeal to emotions, or a direct connection made. 


The personal connection is something that hasn’t been dealt with well in roller derby fundraising. When was the last time your league sent out direct, personalized thank yous to the people who attended a fundraising event, donated, or volunteered? Following up with donors and acknowledging their efforts is just as important as engaging with them in the first place. What about those fans who attend bouts and events regularly, but no one attempts to learn their names?

Each league has a super-fan, a face that everyone in the league knows, but there are those quiet supporters who deserve just as much attention as the loud, in-your-face ones.

The number one factor in losing donors is a lack of acknowledgment. Show the donors the impact they made. Send out note cards, put a thank-you spread in the next bout program, share a thank-you photo, video, etc., on social media. It takes around 6-9 months for the average organization to see the full growth and impact of a new fundraising lifecycle strategy. These don’t happen overnight, so patience is key. However, you can lose support quickly. This is why it’s so vital to equally split focus on bringing in and creating new fans and relationships, but nurturing and strengthening the original ones as well. A universal truth is that a nonprofit is only as strong as its donor base. This applies to roller derby most of all, a community that relies on its fans and donations for everything from practice space to travel funds to injured skater support. Fundraising is not a “last resort” and should never be treated as such, but it’s not as scary as you may think. However, it does need time, nurturing, and effort.

  1. Mobile Giving Statistics for Nonprofits
  2. ibid
  3. Global Web Index Chart of the Day
  4. Online Giving Statistics for Nonprofits

Like what we do? Consider chipping in a few bucks.