High School Tennis – How To Maximize Fundraising for Your Program

Just like other sports programs at your high school, your tennis program has its own specific funding needs to address each year—-tennis balls, nets, windscreens, court resurfacing (every few years), travel to and from matches and other program related needs. Unlike many of the other programs, however, your tennis team does not charge admission for home matches. So, how do you raise money to properly fund your team’s needs?

First, it’s important to always remember your team has its own personality, relationships, challenges & opportunities. Never lose sight of this. Realizing this, here’s several best practice measures and a few ideas to implement to help ensure your program maximizes its fundraising:

1) Create social media pages specific to your team (i.e. Lincoln HS Tennis Facebook Page)

– Add at least one or two posts per week with photos, scores of matches and relevant content

-Make it fun, interesting and informative

– Utilize the social media platform to announce fundraising opportunities for donors and sponsors for your program

– Select one donor and one sponsor to recognize each week, or each month, and send a “Special Thanks…” to the donor and sponsor. Make sure every donor and sponsor knows how much they are appreciated. But, know that a special thanks to specific ones can go a long way in their future support.

Idea – an informal thank you to the donor and sponsor from the entire team one day at practice videotaped on your coach’s iPhone

(Reminder – a donor is an individual or group who makes a financial contribution to the program without the expectation for anything in return. A sponsor is a business who makes a contribution in exchange for name / logo recognition of their business.)

The power of social media is too important to not capitalize on reaching parents, grandparents, friends and members of the community

2) Form a fundraising committee to address and work on fundraising specifically for your team

– Make sure your athletic director is in favor of and supports this idea

– Identify and elect two individuals to recruit fundraising committee members and to coordinate fundraising efforts

– Ask at least 2-3 former players to serve on the fundraising committee

– Ask every member to provide at least five names and contact info of individuals they feel will financially support the team at some level

– Send personalized letter (Dear Mr. & Mrs. Wilson) to all individuals. Keep the letter brief. Include with the letter a brief bio of each team member. Have every team member sign the letter & a brief note from one player on behalf of the team expressing his/her appreciation for the person’s consideration of support.

– Create 3-4 giving opportunities at different levels. Don’t exclude anyone. Offer lower levels to higher levels of giving opportunities.

– Spilt up the list collectively and have every team member personally call every person on this list, three days after the letter’s expected delivery date, to ask them if they would be willing to support the team at a specific level

– Recognize every donor by including their name at your tennis facility

3) Take the same approach and follow the steps listed in #2, but instead of donors make the approach specific to local businesses for purpose of sponsorships for the team

4) Develop an alumni engagement committee

– Ask two to three individuals who have kept in touch with former players to chair & lead the committee

– Plan and offer one Alumni Tennis Weekend each year. Make sure every current team member participates and welcomes the former players back.

– Most importantly, make it your top goal for the former players to have a great time, feel very welcomed by the coaches and current players, & to be informed about the current team and the program’s needs

5) With the assistance of the coaches, have the committee chairs take a close look at what revenue streams are most effective for your program

– If there are efforts/initiatives that have been successful in the past in raising money for your program don’t forgo them. Look at the reasons of why they’ve been successful and build on those reasons.

– Think of new, creative ways to raise money for your program and implement these ideas.

Idea – CourtHarbor’s Custom Logo Court Dividers, Court Number Signs and Net Signs offer a terrific way for your donors and sponsors to be personally recognized in a creative, on-court way

6) Ensure the fundraising for your program has a strategy that includes a clear plan for addressing your program’s short and long-term needs

– When determining these needs, don’t overlook the smallest of needs or the largest of needs:

Day to day items like ball hoppers, tennis net straps, water coolers are all important, as is larger needs such as tennis court repairs (i.e. resurfacing, patching cracks on your courts) and tennis court design and construction

Too often, tennis programs make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to begin raising money for new or resurfaced tennis courts. Do not make this mistake. Incorporate the funding needed into your overall fundraising strategy. And, begin the planning early. Ask other coaches and athletic directors in the area who they’ve used for capital projects (tennis court architects, designers, court construction companies and resurfacing companies), and ask if they were pleased with their work and if so why or why not.

Closing Thoughts

Never lose sight of the following in raising money for your program:

– The power of thank you. You can never express your team’s appreciation enough to your donors and sponsors. Make it personal and express it often.

– Cast your net wide. Don’t leave out any potential donors or sponsors

– Be specific and thorough with your fundraising. Prioritize your needs, but remember to address the short term and long term.

– Find fun, creative ways to communicate and to engage your former players

– Find new and unique ways to raise money and to recognize everyone who supports your program. With so many groups asking for money, it’s important to stand out from the crowd.

– Express specifically why the financial support is important and how it’s going to positively impact every high school student-athlete who participates in your program

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