Most of us in the high school and collegiate athletic ranks share the need for more revenue to fund our athletic programs. With the multiplicity of needs in an athletic department, the strength and conditioning program’s needs are often not seen as the highest priority. Understandably, urgency often creates the priority in a cash-starved enterprise.
I was blessed during my coaching career to have had head coaches who understood the importance of the strength and conditioning program and who donated themselves toward it and asked influential donors to help at different times. During the mid – 1980’s, members of the Wake County Pirate Club provided the paneling and the sweat equity to refurbish the walls of the strength and conditioning facility. (This facility is a topic for another blog.)
In 2015 at Virginia Tech, we raised over $38,000. for the Lone Survivor Foundation, a non-profit organization that addresses some needs of our combat veterans and their families. We accomplished this by tying in our spring max session with the “Hokies Helping Heroes” fundraising effort.
Creating the Fundraising Event
We simply asked fans to pledge any amount of money they would like per pound of the bench press max of their favorite player. The bench press exercise was the lift chosen for the competition. We’ve never valued the bench press over our other core lifts but because it is so popular with the public and is an exercise most people have done if they’ve done any training at all.
We posted the players previous max so that the contributors would have some idea of the possibilities of the player.
Marketing the Fundraising Event
Obviously, being Virginia Tech Football, our high profile gave us a great advantage as well as the athletic department’s social media and the traditional media that assisted in getting the word out. Additionally, the patriotic cause of Hokies Helping Heroes was a big factor in the amount of money raised.
The publicity of the project and the transparency of the amounts pledged to our athletes increased the intensity of our training program!
Showing Gratitude to Athletes and Donors
We were able to produce a t-shirt for donors whose pledge amount exceeded seventy-five dollars. These shirts were paid for by other supporters that contributed specifically in this way. The shirt was a great motivator for participation.
In the Hokies Helping Heroes event, 100% of the proceeds went directly to the Lone Survivor Foundation and the contributors mailed their checks to the foundation.
If you follow this model for Strength and Conditioning needs, I encourage you to have all checks go to your booster club for logistics and tax purposes.
There are several levels of wins in an effort like this.
1. The players learn the value of the money needed for program improvements and take pride in participation.
2. The event creates a spirit of both cooperation and competitiveness as the players prepare for the max.
3. After the max, a video of the best lifts and posting of all the results on the website and in local media was important. The attention that the overall program and the strength and conditioning program received is very positive.
Share Your Story
I’m sure many of you have designed and participated in other successful models of fundraising. If you’d like to share your ideas, with others, please let me know through firstname.lastname@example.org