Try to compare for a second the emotional response you feel to a local car dealership compared to a local little league baseball club. What differences do you immediately notice? Why do you think this is?
Chances are you have a bit more respect and appreciation for the little league. You probably believe that most of the actions taken by the little league have purpose and integrity, while other local businesses are mainly hoping to increase revenues. This is definitely not shocking and isn’t exactly a secret revelation that I’ve just stumbled across. The fact is, the activities that the little league participates in are meant to benefit, at the very least, the children playing and future generations of players, which is considered good and altruistic by the community at large.
What this opens up for the league are some fantastic opportunities to:
- Make a lasting, positive difference in the community,
- Teach selfless values to young children, and
- Expand the league’s player base and increase club revenue
At worst, you may only achieve one or two of these outcomes, but I don’t think anyone would consider that a bad thing. However, If you are noticing a decline in registration or you want to increase club funds for some better travel/equipment opportunities next year, I would strongly recommend that you increase your community engagement. You may want to find a parent volunteer or committee to manage these activities, and in return, you will notice an increase in:
- Community turnout and support at club fundraisers
- Registration/repeat registration
- Flat out donations
Creative Engagement Ideas
Maintaining public spaces/sports fields – Get together as many players and parents as you can to meet at local parks, playgrounds, and sports fields. Have them pull weeds, pick up trash, clean picnic areas/tables, and any other area-specific activities to improve the space.
Volunteer – Seek out local non-profits and have teams attend or possibly even host upcoming fundraising and charity events. This can include working with the homeless, working with a food bank, community celebrations, or any other local event that could use some helping hands.
Connecting with seniors and young children – Both of these groups can benefit greatly from local sports groups. Volunteer your older players to be reading buddies and role models to the younger generations, and organize scheduled visits to retirement homes.
Offer free peer coaching events – Have your players actually use their skills and host free try-a-sport days. This not only allows kids the opportunity to see whether or not they’d be interested in the sport and adds to community engagement, but it can encourage more sign-ups and registrations.
There really is no limit to the different options there are to get your players involved in the community.
Finally, ensure that these activities do not go unnoticed. The community and potential future sponsors, donors, and registrants need to actually be aware of these outreach days, and the kids participating want to know that they’re work is appreciated. Use your monthly newsletters, social media, and club website to describe the activities and list the participants. Don’t forget to distribute fliers and reminders before the event date which will also generate interest and word-of-mouth coverage. Finally, go as far as to reach out to local news and media outlets who may be willing to run a small piece on what the kids are doing!