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There are many independent actions we can take to raise funds for our Association, but we believe that the best way to approach fundraising is to put together a comprehensive plan that incorporates all aspects of bringing money into the organization. Further, we believe that it all starts with building a solid membership base.
Membership drives all of the activities that could potentially generate funds. First, members pay dues, and dues are a primary, early and ongoing source of funds. Further, members provide the “customer” base for merchandising, the “volunteer” base for organizing fundraising activities, and the “promotional” base to raise the profile of the Association in the community where funds will be generated.
There are a number of specific activities and programs that should be built into the overall fundraising plan:
> Instruction/Tournaments – When we hold instructional seminars for any skill level, we should view this as an opportunity to combine learning with generating some funds for the Association. Members would pay less than non-members, but all would pay something. We can hold tournaments that are very simple and basic “fun” events that would raise funds while promoting camaraderie. Larger tournaments could be viewed as an opportunity to showcase the Association and to raise funds. (By the way, the Bend, OR club advertised that their tournament entry fees were tax deductible!)
> Merchandise – We can sell T-shirts, koozies, water bottles, paddle covers etc. Preliminary investigation is that T-shirts with a basic Association logo can be bought for about $6 – $8 (depending on quantity and quality) and can be sold for about $15. Base quantity for this would be about 5 dozen. Members would be the primary target market. Tournaments offer an opportunity to sell additional merchandise.
> Sponsorship – We can approach local merchants and seek sponsorship in the form of cash or merchandise. Items donated could support some of the ideas outlined below in “Special Events”. We may be able to attract sponsors who would exchange merchandise or gift certificates for having their name on our nets where it now says “Pickleball Central”. In any case, sponsors are much more likely to get on board if they can see that we have a sizable membership than if we are unable to answer their questions about the size of our organization.
> Special Events – These could include garage sales, raffles, 50/50 draws, silent auctions, dinners, etc. Prizes for tournaments and items for raffle or silent auction could come from sponsor donations. For example, if we could find 7 restaurants willing to donate a “dinner for two” coupon, we could raffle off “a week of dining” to members and others.
> Donations – If we can structure a means of ensuring that donations are tax deductible, as it appears some similar associations have done, we can solicit donations from members and from potential sponsors or partners such as local service clubs. We may be able to leverage these if we can find a way to generate interest in a “matching” sponsor who would match other donations up to some maximum.
> Grants – Some other associations have been successful in applying for and receiving grants in support of capital projects. The “Stormy Wade Tennis Courts” at the high school were funded, in part, by a grant from the National State Park Heritage Fund. So far, we have not found a suitable grant opportunity, but we are continuing our search. Most grant programs require some fund matching by the organization seeking the grant, usually between 25% and 50%.
Dennis Day 4/10/16