By the end of the school year, it’s likely that students will start to feel burned out by school work and classes, ready to get outside for summer vacation. Their parents might even be planning fun family trips and outings so they can soak up the sun. However, for many student organizations and sports teams, work doesn’t end when classes do.
If you are a football coach or parent to a player, for example, you know that summer is when the team buckles down to train for the next fall season. But if you’re relying on last season’s funds, it can be difficult to cover the expenses your team incurs during this time (e.g., paying for new uniforms, equipment, and food for players). This year, why not be prepared for these costs by choosing an engaging fundraising idea to kick off the summer season?
In this guide, we’ll explore a few important best practices for holding fundraising outdoors, along with some fun ideas to try out:
- What are some best practices for outdoor fundraisers?
- 3 Outdoor Fundraisers for School Groups
There are some unique elements of outdoor fundraisers to consider before starting your campaign. Factors like weather can impact how you plan the event as well as the fundraising methods you choose. Let’s get started by exploring some best practices for addressing these factors.
What are some best practices for outdoor fundraisers?
It’s essential to remember that when you plan an outdoor event, you are surrendering control of certain elements (like the temperature). While a sunny, clear day with a light breeze would be best on these occasions, there’s a chance your fundraiser might be met with exceptionally hot, windy, or rainy conditions.
To ensure your event is a success no matter what happens outside, here are some things to consider when planning:
- Keep the weather and venue in mind. Obviously, your team should avoid scheduling the event on days that are likely to be extremely hot or prone to storms. However, weather is not always predictable, especially during warmer months. In the event that temperatures exceed safe limits or there is rain expected, be prepared with an alternative plan. Consider having tents, a secondary location, or a backup date ready in the event of rain.
- Use a fundraising platform. When your team uses a fundraising platform, supporters can donate online before the event so they don’t need to wait in registration lines at the fundraiser. Additionally, your team won’t need to worry about collecting cash or checks during the event. This adds a layer of financial security as there is no risk of a donation blowing away or getting rained on.
- Prioritize safety. When events take place outdoors, there are more variable factors at play to impact safety–particularly heat. If you are holding a physically demanding event like a sports tournament or race, make sure to have plenty of water, snacks, and shade available. If food will be present, make sure to adhere to proper food safety procedures during preparation and storage.
In addition to these special considerations, make sure you follow traditional fundraising best practices as well. To generate excitement and attract attendees, marketing the fundraiser ahead of time. And as always, be sure to thank and recognize your donors and volunteers with thank-you cards or emails.
3 Outdoor Fundraisers for School Groups
While there is a time and place for more serious fundraising events like galas, feel free to get creative with these outdoor events. Choose a fundraising idea that your team will love and that your community will want to engage with. Keep in mind that as a school-affiliated organization, parents will make up the largest portion of your volunteer base. So, avoid choosing fundraisers that will require unreasonable amounts of time and effort.
1. Charity Race
A charity race, 5K, or marathon is one of the most traditional, classic outdoor fundraisers. Don’t shy away from these tried-and-true fundraisers–just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it isn’t engaging and effective.
The best part about holding a charity race is that they can easily be adapted to various age groups and fitness levels. Here are three different types of races your team can organize to appeal to distinct audiences:
- Walk-a-thon. A walk-a-thon is similar to a traditional 5K, but instead of running, participants are encouraged to walk. Because it is stroller-friendly, this idea is great for younger children and families. To get the whole family involved, encourage them to bring leashed pets along, too.
- Fun run. Double the Donation defines a fun run fundraiser as “a type of peer-to-peer fundraiser in which participants sign up to run, collect pledges, and earn donations for each mile (or other specified unit of distance) they run.” Your team will need to choose a route, date, and time as well as a fun theme. For example, you might choose an 80s theme and encourage runners to dress up in athletic attire inspired by the decade.
- 10K or half marathon. A longer, more intense race is best for experienced runners and older students (i.e., those in high school). To get more community involvement in your race, make sure to advertise it using posters or flyers inside local business establishments. Additionally, your team could partner with nonprofits in your area to leverage both supporter bases.
There are no hard and fast rules around who can participate in which type of race. For example, your high school cheerleading squad might prefer a walk-a-thon to a 10K. The most important thing to consider is whether your team members and supporters would enjoy and engage with the fundraiser.
2. Picnic or Barbecue
When you imagine the perfect summer evening, what comes to mind? For many, it’s backyard barbecues, ice cream, and lemonade. Your team can take advantage of the nostalgia and comfort of a picnic or barbecue for its next fundraiser.
When planning one of these events, follow these steps:
- Choose a date, time, and venue (e.g., a local park, picnic pavilion, or school playground).
- Determine how you will fundraise, either by charging for entry or per food item.
- Decide whether your team will host a potluck-style or catered event.
- Start marketing your event using digital channels as well as printed promotional materials like flyers.
- Purchase plenty of supplies, like plates, cutlery, cups, tablecloths, blankets, and, of course, food.
- Set up enough blankets and tables for all of your guests.
- Host the event and have fun!
If your team decides to prepare food onsite or in advance, be sure to strictly follow all food safety guidelines. Make sure to have coolers and ice available to keep food at the proper temperatures, and ensure all foods are cooked thoroughly to keep your guests safe.
3. Sports-Themed Fundraisers
If your group is a sports team, you already have a built-in, cohesive theme to follow for your fundraisers. Your supporter base will already be familiar with the sport, and they’ve shown that they are interested in supporting your team financially by purchasing merchandise or tickets to games.
Let’s say you coach a high school soccer team. 99Pledges’ guide to soccer fundraising ideas recommends organizing soccer lessons that benefit the team. So, your team puts together a weeklong camp at which younger players can pay to get soccer lessons from the older high school players.
There are many other ways to incorporate the sports theme into your fundraiser, even if you don’t want to center the entire event around your sport. For example, if you hold an outdoor bake sale in tandem with a summer carnival, you could sell soccer-themed cookies and other treats. Your team’s sport can play as big or small a role in the fundraiser as you like, but it can be a helpful reminder to show what donors are supporting.
While choosing to hold your fundraiser outside can introduce new challenges, it will make for an engaging, unique experience that your supporters will remember for years to come. No matter which event you choose, remember to always have a backup plan, whether that’s a secondary location or an alternative date. And finally, make sure that your participants, donors, and volunteers know you appreciate them and their hard work.