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Fun-d raising! Surefire ways to ensure that your team won't stray from the ultimate objective.

Fund-raising may be an organized activity to raise money, but the organization can go just so far.

Without the fun, it will have trouble succeeding. The fund-raiser can become tedious, almost mundane without the proper motivation.

Quite obviously, the fund-raising team must keep its eye on the goal: reaching or surpassing its monetary goal. But where do you begin?

Dick Raddatz, president of Fundraising.com has been in the game for more than three decades. His expertise offers the following advice. It all begins with the basics.

"The first step is to make the right product selection," says Raddatz. "Coaches are often talked into selling something from the first sales rep who comes through the door. Though that may not be the best choice for the kids or the ideal person to maintain their interest in the product.

"The next step is not just passing out the order form and products, but firing up the kids. Incentives are very important. I would definitely recommend a prize program."

Joe Corbi's Fund-Raising Program, which provides cookie and pizza dough fund-raising kits, is one of many companies that go all out with incentives.

It gives away three luxury vacations a year at random to top sellers. It also provides scholarships. That's in stark contrast to what some companies extend to hard workers and overachievers.

"I received a phone call from a woman whose daughter sold 400 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the dead of winter," says Rocco Violi, President of Joe Corbi's Fund-Raising. "Do you know what she got? A beach towel. The woman was very upset.

"Some companies are trying to lure these kids out there to keep selling. And they're giving them nothing in return. It's terrible. They're exploiting them in a sense."

Enter the coach. Dick Raddatz believes that leadership qualities are essential in instilling discipline and control in a fund-raising group. In short, the sidelines are not so different from the streets and avenues.

"If a coach can take control during a game, he can certainly take control during a fund-raiser," he says.

Raddatz also believes that coaches should think outside the box. If the coach sets a high goal, he can promise any number of surefire incentives that will motivate the group: shave his head, camping out on the roof of the high school, or having pies thrown at his face, just to name a few.

"Things like that can create a lot of excitement," Raddatz declares.

Pete Bryden, associate director for ESPN The Magazine Coaches Fundraising Program, says coaches face an uphill battle when it comes to getting John or Jane on board for a team fund-raising venture.

"If a team's goal is to travel to a tournament or buy a new pitching machine or end zone camera, some kids will buy into those goals," says Bryden. "But some won't. You'll look into their faces and see that, 'What's in it for me look'"

Bryden's take on fund-raising makes it almost imperative to incentivize the seller. For example, ESPN allows teams to keep 60% of the profits of all magazine sales--which is among the highest retentions among fund-raisers. Yet it isn't going to incentivize the kid to sell.

To entice kids to sell, the ESPN Coaches Fundraiser is offering ESPN-specific items (and other rewards to be announced) to show their appreciation to top-sellers while providing them with something tangible to boost their interest.

Still, no matter how many carrots a company dangles, the job of fund-raising will invariably fall on the shoulders of the coach or mom and dad who are running it.

"You can use any fund-raising program to make money," Bryden adds. "That's why you do it. But ultimately your job is how to motivate the players to help them. The strength they have is the numbers. The toughest job is to have everyone buy into the plan."

"Whether it's band, cheerleading, or sports, they are really all about kids learning something about pursuing a dream or pursuing an interest. Then learning how to do it and being successful at it," says Curt Robinson, Hershey's Fund Raising, Marketing Manager/Fund Raising/Concession/Military.

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"Fund-raising almost always supports those same goals. The kids need these funds and they have this mission. And the adults who are involved with it, recognize that. They understand that these kids are learning the values of teamwork and hard work and discipline."

It also helps to motivate your team by more than personal reward.

Speaking from personal experience, Rocco Violi believes today's kids have more social awareness, regardless of age.

"I visited a local elementary school in the Pittsburgh area and I asked the kids, 'What does fund-raising mean to you?,'" Violi recalls.

"Nine out of 10 of them said it meant they were going to raise money for a good cause. A lot of them didn't think about themselves or their Little League or their school. I was surprised. The kids were pretty motivated without getting a prize or reward. They really do care. They were very sensitive and aware of what was going on."

While that may be an isolated situation, the fact remains that youth fund-raising groups come in all ages and attitudes.

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Says John Riniker, CEO of seasonticketgear.com: "Kids will be kids. Some will go out and promote hard. Others will take a lackadaisical approach. The thing they have to keep in mind is that the upperclassmen are setting an example for the underclassmen, who will be the upperclassmen of the future. Everything they do will benefit their school in the present and future."

PRODUCT SELECTION

Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to fund-raising. Companies run the gamut from magazines and candy to water and doughnuts to sports gear and collectibles. It's a veritable smorgasbord.

Before signing on the dotted line, however, you have to take a few things into consideration. First, how much money do you want to make? Second, does your fund-raising time frame allow for your team to maximize its profits?

A majority of the fund-raising companies flout returns of 40%-50% or more. Don't settle for anything less. It won't be worth the time and effort. It will also force you to keep your fund-raiser between 10-14 days.

"We have developed a program that will allow your teams to maximize the funds they can receive, yet minimize the difficulty in raising those funds," says Riniker. "All of this, combined with the opportunity of enjoying the game-day atmosphere of major sports teams in your area strikes a great blow for fund-raising."

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Seasonticketgear.com sells licensed products from MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, and MLS that are geared toward season ticket holders and provide a unique custom-made angle.

For example, season-ticket holders have their section, row, and seat numbers embroidered on the side of a team logoed hat, and "Season Ticket Holder" on the back. The NFL Stadium jacket has the section, row, and seat embroidered on the left chest, with "Season Ticket Holder" on the back.

The students walk around stadium parking lots handing out flyers with all the product information. They get a percentage of everything that sells, regardless of whether it's via a Web sale or a direct sale.

"If they're assigned a team, whether it's college or pro, they just go to the game and wear the gear we supply to show the fans exactly what we have: whether it's jackets, jerseys, or hats. They don't really have to sell. All they're really doing is promoting the [Web] site," Riniker says. "The products sell themselves."

Sports collectibles have become a hot fund-raising item. From memorabilia to bobblehead dolls, the market has mass appeal for sports teams and fans alike.

To that end, Schutt Sports, which is known for its football equipment, is touting mini football and baseball helmets. While the company doesn't have a fund-raising arm, per se, the mini-helmets have become one of the more widely used products for fund-raising on the high school and collegiate levels.

"It's something that piques interest, is authentic, and relates to a sports audience," says Alan Thomas, collectibles product/brand manager for Schutt Sports. "When you take a football helmet or batting helmet, you connect with the pride of the school. If you opt for a commemorative piece, then you are really creating that history and aura from your program. I think that's what strikes a chord with people. It's something different than what's normally been done."

Schools can sell their team helmet or a commemorative helmet that is symbolic of winning a conference or state championship. Or it could honor a championship of 10 years ago. Schutt can customize a helmet for any high school, with a minimum order of 24 to more than 1,000. Custom helmets have a four-week lead-time.

The suggested retail prices for the mini football and baseball helmets are $29.95 and $16.95, respectively. Since Schutt sells its products through its dealers at wholesale, the dealer can typically take the program to the school at a cost of $12 to $16. Then the athletic program becomes the retailer and sells it to their booster club or community and keeps the profit, which is typically between $8 and $15 per football helmet.

"Obviously, with fund-raising being a major issue with high schools and colleges, they are looking for opportunities to raise funds because it's taking more and more money to operate a program," Alan Thomas says. "We've told our sales reps and dealers that if they can help their customers come up with a way to raise money, they in turn may use that money to purchase our equipment. In short, if we can give our customer a chance to raise more funds, they will have more dollars to spend on shoulder pads, catchers' protective gear, bases, or whatever."

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The best thing you can do for your fund-raiser is to help promote it as best you can. Get the word out. Options can include an E-mail barrage, flyers, or holding a special in-school day.

"The main thing we do, is always promote our fund-raising with our schools, and even our churches, with a donut day," says Sam Fowler, Krispy Kreme's Community Partners Director, who oversees the company's fund-raising program.

"We try to make it an event--a fun day for the kids. We try to set a donut day on the day the donuts are delivered to the school and the kids can take them home to deliver to their customers."

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Fowler notes that some of the high schools do a variety of things. They might have a dress-up day or a special assembly for all the students participating in the fund-raiser. Some may draw for prizes.

Krispy Kreme offers a fund-raising certificate that's equivalent to a dozen glazed donuts and can be redeemed at a local Krispy Kreme store. The company's partnership card is a plastic punch card that allows the customer to buy a dozen donuts and get a dozen free. The card, redeemable for up to 10 purchases, sells for $10 and the group makes $5.

Hershey's, the number one name in candy, provides a sweet fund-raising program. As an added incentive, each individual involved with the Hershey fund-raiser receives a value coupon book--inside each of five different assortment boxes--with offers up to $80 savings on a variety of products. On every candy bar, Hershey has included a $1 coupon off a Subway restaurant purchase.

This fall, the company will add a coupon for a free Hershey candy bar with the purchase of two products.

"The first path that people go down is, 'Oh, we have to do a fund-raiser. Let's get it over with. Let's make it easy.'" "That's where candy comes in," says Hershey's Curt Robinson. "There is just something special about a candy sale that is simply more fun and easier to execute. A candy bar still costs $1. Make people realize that they're donating a dollar and getting a candy bar in return is almost a thank you. What could be more simple?"

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Pizza and cookies appeal to virtually everyone as well. "We have a practical product," Rocco Violi says of the Joe Corbi Fund-Raising program. "It's very easy for the kids to sell. It's a food product, so it's money well spent. I believe statistics show that people on average eat pizza 1.7 times per week."

The cookie dough, which comes in 10 varieties, retails for $12.75 and makes 48 one-ounce cookies or 96 halfounce. A traditional cheese Pizza kit (there are 11 varieties overall) is $16.50 and makes three 12-inch pies. Groups earn between $5.50 and $7 for every kit sold and obtain their profits immediately, while paying the cost of the pizza or cookie dough on delivery day.

OFFSETTING THE COST

A great way to increase profitability is to secure a sponsor or two for your fund-raiser. That may be easier said than done, but is worth the effort.

Fundraising.com, for example, offers custom-labeled bottled water, on which schools and organizations can have their name or logo imprinted on the label. But a neat feature about the bottled water, which comes 1,440 bottles to a palette, is that school's can actually get the product free.

Dick Raddatz says that 90% of the groups who have ordered the bottled water have sponsors. For every sponsor a school gets, they can reduce the cost by $100.

"Because we're printing a custom logo, we can also print a sponsor's name on the label," says Raddatz. "We recommend that groups go out and get sponsorship for their fund-raiser. If they get nine sponsors, at $100 each, that will pay for the entire palette of water."

If a school cannot get sponsorship, they can buy the bottles for 60 cents apiece and sell them for $1 each.

Personal appeal is another great motivator. Hoop Champs is a basketball fund-raiser with a dual purpose: It allows schools to conduct a productive Shoot-A-Thon fund-raiser in their own gymnasiums while raising money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, honoring the memory of former North Carolina State basketball coach, Jim Valvano.

Players solicit pledges (either an entire pledge or pledge per shot made) based on how many he or she will make out of 100. Teams retain 2/3's of the money for their own programs needs. The remaining 1/3 goes toward ancillary costs and the V Foundation, which last year received a check in excess of $62,000.

Hoop Champs is now trying to convert its current fund-raising model into an offshoot university model. The idea to kick-start interest is to have students send just one email to the rest of the student body, faculty staff, the booster club, and alumni.

NC State basketball coach Herb Sendek and Saint Joseph's U. athletic director Don DiJulia are among the interested parties.

"We've had some good contacts with some colleges," says Hoop Champs president Jay Monahan, whose company provides everything from detailed instructions, generic schedules, and player pledge forms.

"There are a couple of major universities interested and if we can get them on board as a public relations type thing as well as a fund-raiser for their local communities this could really grow."
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Title Annotation:Facility Focus
Author:Newell, Kevin
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2004
Words:2558
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