Beneath the success of our beloved youth teams are the pillars of success holding them up high: the time donated by our selfless volunteers, the coaches and athletes putting in countless hours to perform their best, and the board ensuring the financial requirements to keep going.
An unfortunate truth with youth sports today is that leagues are susceptible to folding just like any other business. From 2009-2014, the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) found that in over 17 sports, youth participation fell by 9.09%, or 4.5 million kids. When there aren’t enough kids to play in a region, the local sports associations will sometimes be forced to shut down. I have seen too many posts beginning with “we regret to inform you…” by sports associations who couldn’t finance their leagues, leaving many children without the option to play close to home.
What About Sponsorship?
Let’s put the brakes the doom and gloom, because things don’t have to be that bad (and if you feel like I put a damper on the outlook for your club, a comprehensive study by the Physical Activity Council has found that in the most recent years, team sports participation has actually increased!).
One of the best ways for a club to remain operational is through sponsorship. Your town’s local businesses provide the funding for a lot of club activities and help to cover the costs of travel, uniforms, equipment, media, and field/arena time. By extension (and most importantly), they help keep registration costs down which lowers the entry barriers for families who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Ultimately sponsors help to strengthen the community by ensuring that a higher number of kids get into team sports.
Why Businesses Will Sponsor You
The decision to invest any money into something is based on a number of things. Although it is true that local companies will sponsor clubs to strengthen the community, it would be naive to assume that goodwill alone is the only factor in this decision. The exposure is a relatively inexpensive way of marketing the company to it’s target group. This is very important to remember when approaching decision makers, but I’ll go over this a little more below.
Additionally, advertising with youth sports is a welcome alternative to typical methods; consumers usually tune out regular ads, but tend to support businesses that support local youth. Finally, as most youth sports organizations are registered charities, businesses can receive tax breaks for their sponsorship activities.
Where to Look
Almost any type of business has the potential to become a sponsor. Some of the most receptive types include:
- Car Dealerships
- Fitness Centers
- Real Estate Companies
- Sports Equipment Stores
- Construction/Home Improvement Companies
- Law Firms
- Dentist Offices
- Grocery Stores
- For the most part any B2C (business to consumer) companies would be considered a great place to look.
How to Ask
One of the first mistakes organizers make when reaching out to sponsors is placing their own passion for the game above the needs of their sponsors. As I mentioned above, remember that sponsorship is still a business decision, and there are probably many other local schools and sports groups looking for money in the same area you are.
The best way to approach this is from the perspective of the company. Along with describing what their dollars will go towards for the league, present them with some tangible information that they can digest to aid their brand strategy. Include figures such as number of registrants each season, number of parents on your mailing list, web traffic numbers to your site, and anything else that will let them know they’ll be seen. The company also needs to know that the people who will see their brand will also be the people that lie in their target demographic, so include information about this as well. For example, a pharmacy may be interested to know the number of grandparents who are on the mailing list and attend games regularly.
If you’d like to see this in a little more detail, check out my next post where I’ll leave you with some sponsorship ask templates that you can use directly or tailor to your club specifically.