Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sports Management Tips - How to Find Sponsors

Obviously everything in life changes, constantly evolving, sometimes for the better, other*times not so much. One such issue which has undergone immense changes in the last 40 years is little league baseball, and not only by the improved equipment and coaching techniques, but the typical day to day operation of youth league associations.
I remember as a kid playing organized baseball, the only new piece of equipment afforded players was a cap. The association provided the teams uniforms, which were handed down from the 1 year older team to the year younger team and so on and so forth down the ladder.
I vividly remember my mother repairing tears in the uniform knees and sewing a patch of fabric with a sponsors' name crudely stenciled on the back of the jersey. If you had a rip or hole in the stirrups, well you were just screwed because they couldn't be repaired.
I have no idea what the cost of registration was at that time, probably $2 - $3 from what my dad remembers, which still wasn't chump change when wages were $2.25 - $3 an hour, but the 1950s were a time of austerity.
As society changed and the middle class became more affluent, parental attitudes changed dramatically and the idea of their boy or girl wearing a hand me down uniform became quite unacceptable. The chance of contracting a disease, which was a very weak excuse, but a good scare tactic, females entering the workforce in droves and the inability of mothers to sew, all contributed to the changing of little league procedures.
Baseball associations, attempting to please the parents, began changing their methods of using uniforms no more than two years before discarding them, but the only method of financing such a dramatic change was to raise registration fees.
This method worked until the inevitable occurred, the fees became too high for the normal family, especially with 3 or 4 children playing to afford. Many associations, not too long ago, charged $150 for the first child, $75 for the second and $50 for each additional player. Expectantly, cries of too many kids not being able to afford to play baseball were heard loud and clear.
Associations faced returning to the past and begin reusing uniforms or continue to raise fees, both options ruled unacceptable, leaving only one alternative. Make the Coach responsible for providing uniforms.
If you play in a wealthy area, where most of the parents are lawyers, doctors or business owners, locating a sponsor who will foot the bill of new uniforms is not a problem, as the monies spent are an advertising tax write off.
However, live in small communities, or in a city where population cluster vastly outnumbers businesses and the coach will face a huge financial dilemma. I coached in, what at that time was a smaller community, so I developed a few ideas for obtaining a sponsor I'd like to pass along, especially to new coaches.
1. Look at your immediate ring of friends and co-workers. Do any of them have a business which could benefit from the exposure of sponsoring a little league team? If not...
2. Go to the next level with friends and co-workers. Ask them if they know of anyone who may be interested. Your co-worker's brother-in-law may own a heating/cooling company he never spoke of until you asked.
3. Have a team meeting with the parents and explain the situation. One of the parents may own or work for a company which may be interested. Send them on a mission to help find a sponsor, also dropping a hint the money may have to come from them if no sponsor is found.
4. If you're not a salesperson this may be difficult for you, but you must meet face to face with business owners in town to request their help. Letters, no matter how eloquent, will end up in file 13. It'd easy to say "no" to a letter, not so easy to a face to face meeting.
5. Begin early!!! I can't stress this enough. Begin searching for a sponsor immediately after New Years eve. Christmas time is too hectic and believe me March is too late.
6. If a person says come back in a week or two... come back. They may have no intentions of helping and are just trying to get rid of you. However, they may have wanted to talk to their tax advisor first before committing. Don't stop looking during those 2 weeks.
7. You may need to get 2 sponsors to split the cost. Unions are usually quite willing to offer financial assistance to youth associations, but are normally limited by law or by-laws of the amount they can contribute. Present a written request to the union hall spelling everything out in detail and requesting any funds possible. In my experiences, if they OK the request, they will automatically contribute the maximum.
8. Last but not the least, you may have to consider a team fund raiser. There are countless methods available for teams to raise money, such as car washes, bake sales, donation buckets and etc.
I found selling candy bars to be the Easiest method to raise money. Between friends, neighbors and co-workers it normally doesn't take long to get sell the entire inventory. There are numerous companies which will work with you in setting up a program, but be careful of scammers.

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