Money is often times the limiting factor for baseball and softball programs looking to make field renovations or construct new ball fields. In this article we will share some of the fundraising ideas we’ve seen, and what seems to work best.
To start with you should be aware of the basic fundraising techniques that most booster programs use. Fence signs are a common and easy method of generating revenue. In the programs that we are closest to signs are placed on the outfield and dugout fences advertising local businesses. Sometimes even large franchises have a budget for community outreach, so don’t hesitate to ask your local Burger King about buying a sign. Here in Pickerington Ohio signs are normally sold for $200 to $800 dollars depending on size and placement. The key to success with this system is getting someone to approach the businesses, and collect the money. Advertising in programs, calendars, or on the team’s webpage also works. Other times boosters can get donations from local business in exchange for a team picture that the business can display to show there support for the community. There are a number of other systems used like coupon cards or candy sales, but I expect most people to be aware of these programs.
Renting fields to travel teams or adult programs is another source of revenue to consider. If your field is going unused for some portion of the year you should look into this. Often times a travel teams will use fields in exchange for doing some work on them. Adult programs generally pay a fee for using the fields a limited number of times.
Grants from Major League Baseball are available. MLB runs a program called Baseball Tomorrow Fund.
This is a great program that has done a lot to renovate and build baseball and softball field all across the country. The application process is challenging, but for a good reason. MLB wants to make sure the money is going to the right place, and that the fields we be maintained after the project is complete.
Most major league baseball teams also have community outreach grants that you can apply for. For example the Cincinnati Reds have a program called the Reds Community Fund. One of the three programs they offer focuses on renovating existing fields. They can also offer help with fundraising events, and programs.
Some minor league teams are also willing to help. The amount of money available is normally less, but it’s easier to get. One field that we work on was actually built by a minor league team. They used the field a few times a year, and then let the local community use it the rest of the time.
If your field was damaged by a natural disaster make sure to call your insurance company. Sometimes people forget that the athletic fields are covered under their insurance. We had a bad wind storm in Columbus this year, and many fields lost all of their field topping. Insurance companies have purchased new topping for at least 5 fields that I know about. FEMA will also provide funds for fields damaged in disasters. FEMA calls us about once a month to ask questions about cost for renovation projects. We’ve done a couple of jobs that were funded by FEMA.
Finally make sure that the people living in your community know you are looking for donations. Put an article in the local paper explaining what your program is trying to do and why. A lot of the work we do is funded by private donations. If someone is looking to make a charitable donation, and they know the money will go to something they love like baseball or softball you’ve got a good chance of getting it. Private donors are also more willing to give money to something they can see like a baseball field. For them it can be very rewarding to watch a game at a complex they had a part in developing.
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