Youth Hockey Fundraising
Youth hockey is one of the best ways to get children active, keep them out of trouble, teach them to work as part of a team, and maintain their physical fitness all at the same time. The only drawback to youth hockey is that it can be expensive, not only for the individual players but also for the team and the league. Fundraising is an incredibly effective way of generating money for the team, but what are the best fundraising ideas?
The best youth hockey fundraising ideas are barbecue luncheons, raffle draws, value books, meet and greets, team outings, merchandising, auctions, and local sponsorship. All profitable fundraisers should be fun, sociable, affordable, and have incentives for prizes to be won.
This article will begin by providing a brief overview of the different elements that should be common to every successful fundraiser. From there, we will go over each of our top fundraising ideas, how they will work, and what unique benefits each one has to offer. By the conclusion of this article, you will have all the tools you need to begin fundraising for your youth hockey team.
While each hockey fundraiser will, naturally, be unique and different, there are some common threads we can identify which all successful fundraising campaigns should encompass.
One of the most essential things when planning a fundraiser is to keep in mind that some ideas may be preferable in certain situations to others. Deciding on the right ideas requires that the organizers know their team and have an excellent personal relationship with the players and their parents. Make sure to read our article on how to be a great coach for more on this topic.
A few main things to consider when trying to decide on the most appropriate fundraising idea are:
- How much money do you have available for the initial investment?
- What are your realistic attendance expectations?
- What is the age of the players you are fundraising for?
In other words, the first thing to do is identify the target audience of your fundraising campaign and go forth from there.
Once you have established your target audience, the next thing to do is go through the checklist and ensure your fundraiser checks all, or at least most of the boxes.
Every fundraising campaign, if it is to be successful, should be:
- Offering incentives for participation (there is something [relevant] to win)
- Affordable for everyone
Ideally, the best fundraiser is one that you can put together at the lowest cost to yourself and your team, which will entice most people to participate and generate the team’s most significant profit margin.
Striking the perfect balance between initial expenditure, quantitative participation, and subsequent payout becomes the key to success.
Simply put, if you spend too much on organization, your profit margin will be lessened. But if you don’t spend enough, your turnout and engagement will be low.
There are many different ways that you could rework these ideas and customize them as you see fit, but this list will provide the reader with a general idea of how fundraising should work and the different aspects of them to consider.
The last thing that is important to note here is the time and duration of the fundraiser. The duration of the event will depend entirely on the nature and venue of the method you select. Something like a meet and greet or a barbecue will only take a few hours during an evening on the weekend; however, taking the entire team to a waterpark, for example, will require a whole day to be set aside.
Also, make sure you have correctly managed all accommodations well in advance. Any venues that need to be rented, any equipment that needs to be purchased, or any transportation arrangements must be considered and accounted for. Be meticulous and thoughtful, and do not overlook any critical matters.
The bigger the fundraiser you are planning to host, the earlier you must begin making arrangements and spreading the word about it.
If permission slips are required for parental consent, make sure you have also taken care of that and given adequate time for everything to be distributed and understood.
Always be courteous and professional when dealing with youth hockey players’ parents and consider any concerns that they may have. Also, capture any ideas or suggestions that they may have. The more input from others you have, the better picture you will have about what the people want. The general opinion is an indispensable aid for setting up fundraisers.
Study other teams and what they have been successful in doing with their fundraisers, and never be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you are unsure of anything relating to the event itself. Also, be sure to read our article looking into how to start a hockey program. It is not specifically about fundraising but may give you an idea of some of the concerns parents may have and the needs that a hockey team does have.
The first excellent fundraising idea on this list is the barbecue/luncheon.
The BBQ fundraiser is one of the most common and successful fundraising ideas, which is why it is always a great go-to option. BBQs are simple to organize, require a minimal downpayment, and appeal to almost everyone.
One thing that is common to everyone is that they eat, but the one thing that is essential if you decide to go the BBQ/luncheon route is that you provide vegetarian and vegan options. Many people do not eat meat for personal or religious reasons, and you do not want to leave anyone out. Providing a few simple alternatives makes everyone happy.
All you need to start up a fundraising barbecue is one or two grills, sufficient food to meet the demand (it is better to have too much than to run out), and a venue. The venue could be someone’s home, the hockey rink, or a designated public area.
The one major downside to the barbecue/luncheon is that it is entirely weather-dependent. BBQs are best on warm sunny days, typically in the late afternoon to evening. In the winter months or on rainy days, fundraiser BBQs become difficult. However, tents and umbrellas can sometimes mitigate this problem.
Next up on the list is the classic, the raffle draw.
A raffle draw is a straightforward concept wherein the organizer offers prizes to winners based on a number draw.
The raffle draw is always so successful as it directly appeals to incentives and human nature. Gambling and risking, with the chance to win something more significant than the worth of the investment put in, can give people a sense of excitement and a rush of dopamine. Everyone likes to play for a chance to win a prize.
The better the prizes are, the more people will be willing to spend to win, but keep in mind the investment-payout balance discussed earlier in this article and keep your rewards proportional. Donations from team families or local businesses can always help here.
It is also essential to keep the gifts relevant to youth hockey as much as possible. You would not want to raffle away, for example, a tennis racket.
To organize the raffle, simply promote the prizes, and start selling tickets for a relative price. Everyone receives a numbered ticket with a purchase to hold onto, and you place a ticket with the corresponding number into the draw. Draw randomly, fairly, and transparently, then announce the winner.
It is a good idea to have multiple prizes, some big and some small.
Some of the best raffle prize ideas for a youth hockey fundraiser are:
- Tickets to a professional hockey game
- Free team fee for next year
- Hockey gloves
- Hockey socks
While the gifts should, of course, be relevant to youth hockey, this rule is not written in stone. You may generate more interest from parents with the inclusion of some more practical day-to-day items.
However, if you decide to include non-hockey related prizes in your raffle draw, make sure they are not totally out of character from the fundraiser’s theme. A few things you could include are school or office supplies, kitchenware, and generalized clothing.
Meet and greet events are a very good way to generate interest and participation. They are usually successful in fundraising for youth hockey teams.
Hockey meet and greets typically feature one or more figures of notoriety. These figures can include current or retired players or coaches.
Parents and players will have the opportunity to show up, and for a small fee, be introduced to famous hockey figures of the past or present. Here, they can take pictures, have autographs, and maybe even share some stories and advice.
The best ways to gather interest for a meet and greet event is by promoting it on social media, reaching out to parents by text or by email, and face-to-face interactions and flyer distribution with players and spectators.
Many players and coaches, past or present, genuinely enjoy charitability and helping out with youth hockey where they can. Get in contact with some people, and you will likely find some notable hockey affiliates willing to help out for little or no compensation.
Social outings are a great way to get people together, think outside the box, and get involved with the team.
The particular outing you decide to go with is very flexible and open to creative selection. Still, in general, it will be something that appeals to the naturally competitive nature of hockey players.
Some popular fundraiser outings include bowling, go-karts, attending a professional hockey game (or any sporting event for that matter), a water park, an amusement park, etc. You really can not go wrong here. As long as the venue you decide on is fun and exciting, the youth and parents will have a good time.
Many places will sell admission tickets at a reduced price to large groups, which you can then sell to the players and their families to raise money for the team with the proceeds.
Value books are probably the most underrated and one of the most effective ways to fundraise money for a youth hockey team. For those unfamiliar with value books, they are essentially coupon books, but very comprehensive ones.
Value books typically feature generously reduced prices and discounts on things like local restaurants, movie tickets, theme park admissions, music concerts, sporting events, groceries, clothing stores, and the list goes on.
Players from the team, along with parental supervision, could sell value books around town, to friends and relatives, or on social media.
The great thing about the value book is that it is a total win-win for all parties. The buyer will get more than their money’s worth, and so will the fundraiser.
This is the same model that has been used to great success by many different organizations. Instead of value books, you may decide to sell chocolate bars, cookies, candy, and even popcorn. The Girl Scouts organization is famous for using their signature cookies for fundraising for their group with incredible success over the years.
If you are looking to acquire an expert understanding of fundraising, pick up the book 21 Tips for Highly Successful Fundraisers from author Benjamin R. Case. This book is brief and straight to the point. It has 76 easily digestible pages that will provide you with all of the knowledge necessary to guarantee your fundraiser exceeds expectations.
If you are looking for ways to fundraise and generate revenue to support a youth hockey team, merchandising can be one of the best ways to do this.
Generally, clothing with logos and brands can be sold at a profit, and people are more than happy to take the merchandise off your hands for a reasonable price.
Find a company that will print, in bulk, your team’s logo on hats, shirts, sweatpants, and hoodies, then begin selling them at games. Make sure to read our article looking into the best minor league hockey hats, which you can customize for your team.
The most significant benefit to the merchandising strategy is that it can be used in conjunction with the other fundraisers on this list. For example, while hosting the barbecue/luncheon, a few hats or shirts can be brought along and sold in various colours and sizes.
Merchandising requires little effort, allows for a lot of creative input, and is relatively inexpensive. Take a census from the players and see who would be interested in some official team merchandise.
Many self-merchandising businesses are solely based online now, making it very simple and convenient for you to simply send them your design and specs and have them bring your ideas to life.
If you genuinely wish to maximize this method, you can also host an art contest for youths with a modest buy-in where the winner will have their design featured on the merchandise. This will attract a lot of competitive and creative artists to try their hand in an art competition. Even the runners-up can have their art featured somewhere for all to proudly see, so everyone is ultimately a winner.
An auction can be a fantastic way of making some extra money to help cover youth hockey team expenses.
The first thing to do is request valuable item donations from people close to the team. This may include things such as vintage hockey cards, autographed memorabilia, or authentic jerseys.
Youth hockey attracts incredibly dedicated, generous, and considerate individuals to it. Many youth hockey parents are known for lending help to the coaching staff and other parents of players, so it will come as no surprise that they are also open to helping organize charitable fundraisers. Take advantage of their generosity to maximize the success of your fundraising campaign.
Once you have amassed enough merchandise and memorabilia to host an auction, spread the word, and let people know when and where it will be happening. Remember, the main objective is to make it fun and engaging, so keep it light-spirited and modest.
Local sponsorship is an idea that not many consider, but they should.
Local sponsorship is the act of being sponsored by a local business, and in return, promoting their business with your team’s franchise.
This arrangement is mutually beneficial for both the team and the business sponsoring them. From the business’ perspective, they are gaining many virtue points because supporting a youth hockey team is a very good look. More than just that, however, you will be helping them to get their name out there and promote business.
Conversely, your team will benefit from having them promote your team as well in their store with pictures and awards and things of that nature.
Major big-box retailers will likely already be involved with and sponsoring teams. Some of the local business types who may be interested are local pizzerias, sporting goods outlets, coffee shops, car dealers, etc.
You will need to do some leg work and be persistent but friendly. You never know who will be willing to help, but many businesses are looking for a charitable cause that can also help out their business, so give it a try.
In this article, our goal was to provide those involved in youth hockey with the best fundraising ideas most likely to be successful.
The most classic fundraisers are barbecue/luncheons, sports-related outings like go-karts or attending live events, and drawing raffle tickets.
Some of the less common but equally great ideas are seeking local sponsorship, selling value books, creating and selling merchandise, famous player meet and greets, and auctioning hockey memorabilia.
Whatever you decide to do to raise money for your youth hockey team, never forget to have fun!
- Wikipedia: Youth Hockey
- CanadianHockeyMoms: Fundraising Ideas for your Association
- ArtsTexas: 10 Principles of Fundraising
- Amazon: 21 Tips For Highly Successful Fundraiser by Benjamin R. Case