There is no denying that booster clubs do really important work for local communities and school related activities. Add to that, the fact that they are organized and run by volunteers, it is really amazing what they can accomplish! Even with the best intentions, sometimes it can be confusing what fundraising is acceptable. Or, in other instances, what regulations exist around specific fundraising activities. Our booster club fundraising guidelines give club volunteers insight into how to raise funds for their booster club without making potentially costly mistakes.
If you have never run a fundraiser, or are looking to ensure you are conducting your fundraisers properly, start by assuming you cannot employ just any means to fundraise for a booster club. Understnad that there are fundraisers that are simple and legal, there are others that need to follow local/state/federal guidelines and regulations and there are others that are just illegal. When we created our booster club fundraising guidelines, we looked at some of the more popular ways clubs like to raise money and explore them a little further. These include:
- Merchandise Sales
- Bake Sales
- Casino Nights
- Event Ticket Sales
- Booster Club Fees
Booster Club Fundraising Guidelines for Different Ideas
To help you better understand which fundraisers are best for your booster club we will dive into some fundraising strategies. In the booster club fundraising guidelines below we will give you a brief overview of how they work and then discuss any regulations, rules or laws you need to consider when running that particular fundraiser. As with any activity, if you, your leadership or board have questions about the legality of anything related to a fundraiser, we highly suggest also discussing those questions with a local attorney. Note that these guidelines are very top level and your local community or state may have additional regulations to consider as well!
Merchandise Sales to Support Your Booster Club
Merchandise sales help to collect significant funds for Booster Clubs. You can have plenty of options available, but choosing the right one can be pretty confusing. Whether it’s t-shirts, books, puzzles, or any other hard goods, you have to make sure that the products you are selling make sense for your target audience. Once you have picked out items to sell, you need to product them, receive the inventory, and get out there and sell them!
Typical margins for merchandise sales are 50 to 60%. However, something around 20% is also good and should not be taken for granted – especially when your all-volunteer club has little overhead.
If you are considering selling merchandise, our booster club fundraising guidelines suggest being aware of the following:
- If you are using any logos, make sure that you have written approval to use them – even if it is the school logo or mascot. It is always better to have usage rights in writing.
- Do not even consider selling items such as alcohol, cigarettes, vaping products or anything age limit related. In addition we would suggest staying away from related paraphanalia or brands associated with any of those products.
- While your club may be a nonprofit, you still MUST collect Sale Tax (if your state charges it). Every state that charges sales tax has a different rate which you can look up online.
- If you are taking credit card payments, be sure to calculate the fees associated with those card transactions to ensure your revenue and profit margin are accurate.
Running A Booster Club Bake Sales
Bake sales are an easy go-to fundraising option, but putting it together these days can require a bit more work than you may realize. The best thing about community based bake sale fundraisers is that there are normally really high margins. Traditionally parents of activity participants supply the baked goods allowing the booster club to make 100% profit off the items sold. However these days, with technology and the advent of social distancing – you could also consider an online bake sale through third-party suppliers. While an online bake sale does not yield 100% profit, you can still command 30-50% profit. If this sounds beneficial for your club, consider our booster club fundraising guidelines for bake sales below:
- Check to make sure your local community and/or school system does not have any regulations around bake sales. They may only allow reselling of third party baked goods, meaning no home baked good donations by supporters.
- If you are able to accept home-baked goods donations., make sure that all food products are completely sealed and individually wrapped when you sell them. These days this is almost always required and it just ensures that food items are protected until they are sold and enjoyed!
- Allergy Warnings. This is critical given the nature of allergies in kids and adults these days! Whether they are home baked goods or third party purchased goods – you need to make sure that any allergy warnings are noted. Some to consider are:
- Contains nuts
- Contains peanuts
- Lactose Free or Contains Lactose
- Contains Gluton OR Gluton Free
- Religious notations might be considered depending on your audience. One example is if an item is Kosher or not Kosher, a simple notation will go a long way.
Last, when you are setting up your baskesale, if all of your items are donated, you might want to consider an alternative pricing strategy. Instead of labelling a price on each item, maybe try asking for a suggested donation per item. This gives you some flexibility in what you charge as well as keeps it pretty simple overall.
Booster Club Fundraising Guidelines For A Casino Night
A fundraising event like a Casino Night for Booster Club really needs to consider booster club fundraising guidelines before it is planned. Casino Night fundraisers are a lot of work even at the most basic level. Many times these events include many events including a catered dinner, auctions, sponsorships, live entertainments, poker tournaments, and different casino-type games. While there is typically a larger upfront investment of time and money, these events do tend to not only be popular with communities, they can raise a very LARGE amount of revenue. Where many nonprofits run into problems is that these events can run afowel of the law if not properly set up. While we believe that Casino Nights are incredible fundraising opportunities, we highly highly suggest reviewing our booster club fundraising guidelines as well your local laws and regulations around these events BEFORE you start planning the event. Furthermore it would be prudent to engage the services of a local attorney familiar with these laws to ensure your casino night fundraiser goes off without a problem. Here are some top-level guidelines you should consider for your casino fundraiser:
- Age limits for Casino Night fundraisers need to be thoroughly followed. This depends on local laws, how the event is structured and the types of games included
- Do not involve alcohol, tobacco or any other items if participants include minors under 18 years old. If you do include these items, make sure you are following local laws around how it is handled, dispersed and managed for the event. This might include needing to hire a caterer with an alcohol license.
- Make sure you review how state and local laws require you to handle prizing and cash exchanged during the casino nights for the games played – generally speaking participants can win prizes but not usually cash winnings like a regulated casino.
- Research the types of games that your state/local community allow for casino night fundraisers. There are some games of chance that are not allowed in certain jurisdictions.
- Do your research around time of day that these events can occur in your locality. Depending on where you hold the Casino Night fundraiser, you may need to start or end it between specific times.
- Check with your local government offices to make sure you do not need any temporary permits or need to pay any fees for holding this type of an event.
Booster Club Fundraising Through Event Ticket Sales
Another important way many booster clubs raise money is through event ticket sales. These can be events related to the booster club’s focus (ie. a performance or game) or you can set up an event like a movie night or marathon to sell tickets to that raise money for your organization. One additional way you can fundraise through ticket sales is to partner with a local event that already exists to take a percentage of ticket sales. Maybe your town has a local fair, rodeo or parade – partnering with the town to take 5-10% from ticket sales is a good way to raise a nice sum with limited effort. Generally speaking booster club fundraising guidelines around ticket sales are straight forward:
- If you are partnering with an established event, make sure that the percentage split of ticket sales is written and agreed to in advance.
- If your club is running the event by itself make sure that any needed permits are obtained
- If your club is running the event by itself make sure you understand all costs in advance needed to run the event so you can set the proper ticket price
- For events where you are using someone else’s work – ie. Movie night – make sure that you ensure that there is not a fee to show the movie that needs to be paid to the copyright owner – if there is, it is generally small.
- If you plan on selling concessions at the event, make sure you follow any federal/state/local guidelines around food sales and cleanliness. You may want to reference our notes about bake sales above as a starting point.
- Depending on if you need to rent a space or are in a public space, you will probably need to obtain a limited insurance policy to protect you and the property owner in the event someone hurts themselves at the event.
Finally, if you are trying to create a larger event, you might want to consider partnering with some other local booster clubs or organizations. This can help you both make a bigger impact while ensuring you have enough resources to pull off the event successfully!
Booster Club Fees as a Fundraising Method
One often overlooked fundraising strategy are collection of Booster club fees. While fees are a popular method for helping with fundraising, there are booster club fundraising guidelines specific to fee collection you need to follow. Generally speaking because booster clubs are created to support a student extracurricular activity, fees are collected at the beginning of the season for that activity. Normally these fees cover some of the basics needed to participate – uniforms, some transportation costs and maybe some facility management. What the fees cover and how much they are varies depending on the activity. Unlike private club memberships, booster clubs support activities that are open to any qualifying child or student. Because of this inclusivity, there are some booster club fundraising guidelines related to collecting fees you need to keep in mind:
- Not every parent/family will be able to afford the fees – because of this often encountered situation the booster club needs to offer alternative ways to cover those fees for these families. In some cases they are broken into multiple payments (ie monthly payments), in other cases the fees are waived in exchange for help with the booster club, or another solution is allowing other families to sponsor other families and cover their fees.
- When collecting fees, if you are allowing payment by credit card, make sure you calculate in the credit card fees that will be deducted from the fee amount. You can either tack on a flat dollar amount to cover the processing fees or pad your fees slightly to cover this possiblilty.
- Make sure school leadership and the coaching staff is onboard with your booster club collecting fees so that everyone is aware that it is happening and what those fees are covering.
Keep in mind that if your decides to start charging fees, the fee amount will most likely NOT cover the entire costs of participation. Booster club fees should be looked at as one tool to help your club reach its goal for the year, not the only way to cover costs.
Booster Club Fundraising Guidelines for Local Business Partnerships
One of the more fruitful fundraising opportunities that is overlooked by most booster clubs is partnering with local businesses. While these can take time to cultivate and grow into donations, these relationships when established tend to generate larger donation amounts and normally on a more regular basis. The benefit your booster club can gain from building relationships with local businesses is massive. Whether its a local bank, restaurant, gym or associations – these types of partnerships are win-win-win.
If you are interested in pursuing business partnerships there are a number of ways to approach it. Typically the approach is based on the type of business, but at the same time you can also present multiple options to a business and let them decide how they want to participate. Some ideas of partnerships are
- Dinner nights at a local restaurant where the booster club takes a percentage of sales that night
- Check donations in exchange for some sort of sponsorship placement
- Product donations for silent auctions
- Larger event sponsorship to cover expenses
- Donation of services to club operations
- Physical space donation for club fundraising events
- and more!
In many cases your local business partners will see this as a value for a number of reasons. First it shows them supporting the community and giving back. Second these businesses may see an increase in brand visibility and revenue through connecting with the booster club audience. Finally, if your club is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit – the business most likely can write off their contribution (as long as it is dollars donated – not time).
When you pursue local business partnerships there are some booster club fundraising guidelines that apply and should be considered:
- Make sure that you have the terms of the partnership in writing. This includes what is being exchanged and the timelines.
- Make sure your club has worked out some possible options for different businesses to choose from so that they can feel they are part of the process
- Be open to suggestions from potential business partners around how they can partner – who knows, maybe they will think of something you didn’t!
- Depending on the partnership make sure that you have adequate disclaimers around what is being donated to the booster club. For example: “A portion of all sales tonight is for fundraising purposes.”
- Depending on the type of event, you might need to purchase limited insurance.
- Make sure that the businesses you consider partnering align with your club goals and ideals
In the end the fundraisers you choose to conduct for your booster club will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your activity, students and community at large. Making sure your club follows all necessary local laws and regulations will help ensure that all the work and money raised from those events is put to good use. While our booster club fundraising guidelines are not legal advice, they should be considered as a starting point when planning your fundraisers. We always recommend you check with local government offices or attorneys if you have specific questions around your fundraising ideas. Best of luck and happy fundraising!!