What Makes Team Fundraising Unique? 3 Key Differences

As the coach of a youth sports team or the leader of a school-affiliated academic bowl team, you know that there are some aspects of team fundraising that make it different—and often more challenging—than other types of fundraising. While organizations like nonprofits often have at least one dedicated fundraising professional, your team will have to dive in without the same experience or time to devote to campaign planning.

Let’s say you coach a Little League team. You only have a small budget allocated to the fundraiser, and you don’t have much time to plan between prepping for games and holding practice sessions. Additionally, the only fundraising expertise you have is what you’ve learned from online resources and previous years’ fundraisers. To stand out and overcome these obstacles, you dig into the things that make team fundraising special, like your built-in base of loyal fans.

In this guide, we’ll explore these three unique aspects of team fundraising and how you can make the most of them, even with a lower budget or limited fundraising knowledge:

  1. Teams have a built-in supporter base.
  2. Team members can personalize their efforts.
  3. Reaching goals is easier through teamwork.

Making the Most of these Differences

Your team, particularly if it is an athletic or school-affiliated group, might already have a cohesive brand that supporters recognize. For example, a school football team might use its school colors and logo in fundraising promotions and on merchandise. To leverage your community’s brand awareness with your team’s friends, family members, and community, make sure to stick to these branded elements when promoting your fundraiser.

In addition to built-in branding, your team likely already has a base of loyal fans who want to support you. Let’s explore how to inspire additional support from those who cheer you on in the stands.

1. Teams have a built-in supporter base.

Think about the people who want to see your team go far. Maybe you see them rallying for your team during the state basketball championship, or perhaps they purchase branded clothing to support your marching band’s new show theme. These supporters have already shown that they are willing to support your team financially, so why not make a fundraising appeal?

Here are a few of the different types of supporters your team might have:

  • Parents and family members. Because those in this category are related to your team members, they will likely be among your most ardent supporters. They want their team member to succeed and will be receptive to appeals to donate or volunteer.
  • Fellow students. Students often want to support their peers, particularly if your fundraiser occurs during school hours or is affiliated with the school. For instance, they might buy a ticket to your team’s soccer game or purchase snacks between classes to support the wrestling team.
  • Alumni. These supporters were once a part of your team, and they have the most intimate understanding of what being a member means. They might be willing to make generous donations of money and time in order to give more team members the opportunity to benefit from your program.

Because of this built-in audience, peer-to-peer fundraising is a great option for teams. This fundraising method requires individual members to fundraise on your team’s behalf, securing donations from their network and team supporters.

2. Team members can personalize their efforts.

Each member of your team has their own unique story behind why they joined your team, what being a member means to them, and why a donation would benefit them. Encourage your team members to highlight their unique experiences by using personalization and storytelling to inspire support.

If your team chooses to launch a peer-to-peer fundraiser, you might set up online fundraising pages. Ideally, you should create one general, teamwide fundraising page as well as individual pages for each member. Encourage each team member to add special, personalized descriptions to their donation page that expand on how being a member of the team positively impacts their lives.

For example, a member of the marching band you direct might add this description to their fundraising page:

My name is Natalia, and I am a senior saxophone player in the marching band. During my time in the band, generous donations have provided us with the funding we need to purchase show props, sound equipment, uniforms, and instrument repairs. This sport brings me closer to my friends and community, and through marching band, I’ve learned about the value of hard work firsthand. With a donation to our band, you can help us grow these connections, support the arts, and aid in the learning of life lessons.

Not only will these personalized descriptions make your fundraiser stand out, but they can even pull at donors’ heartstrings by appealing to their emotions. To guide your team in writing these descriptions, consider creating a prompt or outline for them to follow. This could be as simple as compiling a few questions for them to answer in the description (e.g., “How has your time on the team impacted your life?”).

3. Reaching goals is easier through teamwork.

Your team members, staff, and parent volunteers are already very familiar with the concept of working toward a common goal. Because each team member has some kind of stake in the outcome of the fundraiser, they will all be driven and motivated to reach that goal. If you are raising money to replace worn-out uniforms or equipment, for example, each team member will directly benefit from meeting your funding goals.

To benefit from these strong bonds and the team’s drive to raise revenue, consider fundraising ideas and strategies like:

  • Community-based fundraising ideas. Strive to connect with your broader community through community volunteer projects, percentage nights at local restaurants, coupon books for local businesses, or by securing sponsorships from businesses in your area. By building up your community connections, you’ll have a network of reliable partnerships for future fundraising efforts.
  • Foster ownership and accountability. Set a collective goal and make team members responsible for meeting that goal. Track and share fundraising progress data to help team members hold each other accountable to meet their individual goals. Liken fundraising to your sport or activity and make sure to cultivate a positive environment in which team members support and “coach” each other.
  • Fundraising “competitions” with other teams. Does your team have a long-standing rivalry with a team in the neighboring town or school? Unite your supporters into a “team” in order to beat the other team in a fundraising competition. Make sure each team tracks its fundraising progress online so supporters can quickly check in to see where the fundraiser stands.

Your teamwork skills are what help you score the winning touchdowns, home runs, or slam dunks. Leverage the same skills by collaborating with fellow members and your community to meet your revenue goals.

Making the Most of These Differences

When using any of the ideas in this guide, it’s essential to follow fundraising strategies and best practices that allow you to transform these differences into advantages rather than obstacles.

First, invest in specialized fundraising software designed for team fundraising. This software should:

  • Allow you to create teamwide and individual fundraising pages.
  • Make it easy to share your donation pages online.
  • Accept a variety of payment options.
  • Have minimal costs.
  • Include data tracking and reporting features.

Next, you’ll need to ensure that you’re tracking and reporting fundraising data as accurately as possible. Tracking fundraising data helps you measure progress toward your revenue goals, and you can use these insights to motivate your team to keep fundraising to meet your goals. Use this data to refine future fundraising strategies and build relationships with your donors as well. Look for trends in the ways that supporters interact with your fundraiser to tailor communications to them later, and make sure to thank each donor.

With the data gathered by your fundraising platform, your team can make a bigger impact and develop deeper relationships with its dedicated supporter base—all without needing an extravagant budget or years of fundraising expertise.