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Sports Fundraising Ideas

Sports fundraisers are among the most successful events you can host for a charity or personal cause and a great way to connect with donors. From social golf tournaments to gritty cross-country races, athletic events can draw crowds of loyal supporters and new donors. If you want to give back while enjoying a sport you love, a sports crowdfunding campaign is a great way to combine your passions, test your boundaries, and have fun.

young girl throwing a softball

Get your campaign moving

Whether you’re planning an extreme challenge to raise awareness of your cause or holding a more laid-back event, sports fundraising can help you access the funds you need to improve your life or someone else’s. Some information on athletic fundraisers are:

  • Sports event fundraising is a billion-dollar industry that creates around 8,823 new jobs each year, according to IBIS World.
  • It’s becoming more popular—sports philanthropy events are growing at a rate of 1.4% per year, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
  • The Huffington Post reported that families spend almost $700 a year to cover costs for youth sports teams.

Six standout sports fundraising ideas

  • 1. Golf tournaments

    Golf tournaments are some of the most popular sports fundraisers. Equal parts social and athletic, they provide an excellent opportunity to get to know potential donors during a relaxed, enjoyable experience. Some things to note:

    • As a sport that people of all ages can enjoy, golf doesn’t stop the less-athletic from participating.
    • The major source of revenue from these events is often sponsorship—advertisers can sponsor each hole on the course and put up ad signage along the way. Sponsors are also acknowledged in event materials.
    • Have guests RSVP by donating to your campaign.
    • 
You could also sell merchandise, with proceeds going to your crowdfunding campaign account.
  • 2. Charity races

    Racing can demonstrate your commitment to your cause. It’s also a great way to get your supporters involved in raising funds—pledges for miles-raced provide extra motivation for an athlete to push that much harder to compete to the best of her abilities. Race fundraisers often feature athletes competing to promote causes close to their hearts.

    When Shannon’s business mentor and friend Michael passed away suddenly from health problems, he wanted to honor Michael’s legacy by fundraising for a good cause. Shannon decided to run an Iron Man to raise funds for diabetes research. More than 40 people donated to Shannon’s campaign, and he successfully completed the grueling event in 15 hours.

  • 3. Unique sports fundraisers



    Some sports fundraisers feature an individual competing against the elements rather than against others. For athletes climbing a mountain or swimming the English Channel, for example, crowdfunding provides a platform where supporters can learn about the event. Donors can then pledge based on the athlete’s milestones, speed, and success. These campaigns aren’t for the faint of heart, but they do tend to get a lot of publicity.

    Kevan’s second GoFundMe campaign is about as unique as they come: previously, he and his friends raised money so they could backpack through Europe—with Kevan riding on his friend’s back (he typically uses a wheelchair to get around). This time, Kevan and his friends are traveling to China, and they’re fundraising for an organization that helps orphans with disabilities. Kevan will still travel around in a custom backpack worn by his friends, raising both money and awareness for increased accessibility.

  • 4. Long-term athletic endeavors



    Athletic fundraisers that extend over multiple days have a unique advantage: they allow athletes to post updates throughout their journey. Supporters can follow the athlete’s progress and make donations as they go.

    18-year-old Lucy and her dad had an audacious goal: to ride their bikes 2,500 miles from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida. The purpose? They wanted to raise money to fund mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer. Lucy kept her donor community in the loop with frequent Facebook posts of photos from the road—and she raised $4,000 for women’s preventative health.  

  • 5. Less-rigorous sport challenges



    You don’t have to be superhuman to raise money through athletics. Softer adventures can also attract media attention, especially if they involve large numbers of people. A run, bicycle race, or swim empowers everyday people to exercise while giving back to charity. Remember that lots of participants means lots of social media shares—for more donations.

    4th grader Lucas hadn’t even learned how to skateboard yet when he started his GoFundMe for a class project to benefit Skateistan, a nonprofit that helps kids in developing countries access education through skateboarding. But with the help of his donors, Lucas raised money for the organization, decorated some skateboards, and picked up a new skill.

  • 6. Fundraisers for sports injuries



    Crowdfunding can also raise money for sports-related injuries. Professional athletes and amateurs alike need help when facing expensive hospital bills and home modifications. If an athlete you know has suffered a life-changing injury or ailment, you can launch a campaign to help support them.

    During a championship rugby match, Robert was injured and left paralyzed below the chest. His collegiate rugby community rushed to his support, and a family friend created a campaign to help with his healing and rehab. More than $800k was raised to help this college student get the medical treatment he needed to complete his studies and achieve his goals.  

On your mark, get set, go—with sports fundraising

The inspiring stories and crowdfunding campaigns we’ve linked to above demonstrate the power of sports fundraising to improve the lives of real people. Crowdfunding also simplifies sports fundraising, giving you more time to focus on your fundraising event. Use the ideas above to put your sports fundraiser in motion. If you haven’t already started a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign, launch yours today.

Start a sport campaign

Fundraising ideas for cheerleaders

young cheerleader

Cheerleading can be an expensive sport. Joining a high school cheerleading team, for example, typically costs between $700 and $1,000 a year, while competitive squads might run up expenses of another $2,000 to $3,000 annually. Many schools don’t cover these costs—and between uniforms, travel, registration fees, tumbling classes, and injuries, the high costs can keep cheerleaders out of the game.

Cheerleaders benefit the school community

Cheerleading squads often play an important role at school and in the community—yet they rarely get the financial support they need. By launching a crowdfunding campaign, you can raise the money your squad needs and give your community a chance to show some love and support all you do.

  • Active Marketing Group reports that cheerleading has one of the highest rates of participation among sports.
  • They also estimate that 83% of cheerleaders carry at least a “B” grade average and serve as leaders of student organizations.

Eight fundraising ideas for cheerleaders

  • 1. Sell school t-shirts

    Talk to school administrators (who may need to approve the design) about selling t-shirts as part of your fundraiser. You could also hold a design contest. To make the most profit per shirt, buy shirts in bulk and screen-print them yourself, possibly with the help of a teacher or your local screen-printing studio. Selling shirts through an on-demand printing site is another option, and less work for you, though you’ll make far less per shirt since the site takes a big cut. You can sell shirts online or in person, using a mobile device—either way, have supporters donate a specific amount to your fundraiser in exchange for a shirt.

  • 2. Hold a camp for the next generation of cheerleaders

    Organize a cheerleading clinic for cheerleaders in lower grades—if you’re in a high school squad, for example, host a camp for elementary or middle school students. Break up campers into small groups based on age and experience. Play get-to-know-you games or head straight into exercises, drills, cheers, and choreography. Challenge the teams to come up with their own original routine, and at the end of the week have the campers perform in front of the group. Campers can register for the clinic by donating to your fundraiser.

  • 3. Host a pep rally fundraiser

    Choose an evening when the campus auditorium, field, or stadium is available, and host a school spirit night. Or invite the student body to a back-to-school celebration that features food, drinks, and entertainment. Ask the school band to provide music. Charge an entrance fee paid through your fundraiser. Consider selling tickets that can be redeemed for dinner, refreshments, or games. Choreograph a routine to perform at the end of the night. Encourage support for campus groups by announcing the upcoming week’s lineup of sports games and on-campus events.

  • 4. Hold a cheer challenge

    A “cheer-a-thon” is an event in which families and local companies sponsor teams to cheer as long as possible. Supporters pledge a certain amount per hour of cheering. When a participant stops cheering, he or she has to drop out. Have people participate by collecting pledges individually. At the end of the night ask supporters to donate the money they earned from their sponsors to your fundraiser. Publicize the event on social media beforehand to get people excited.

  • 5. Babysit to give parents time off

    Do your teammates have babysitting experience? If so, your squad could either donate time babysitting individually, or hold an organized event for parents who want to take some time off, go out for coffee, get some shopping done, work out, or just relax for a few hours. A day event should be supervised closely by coaches and assistant coaches. Ask parents to make a donation to your online fundraiser in lieu of direct payment.

  • 6. Sell old uniforms and apparel

    Some schools may have outdated uniforms and school gear hiding away in a storage closet. If your school is still holding onto decades-old uniforms, see if you can auction them off as vintage items. If you have extra shirts from past seasons, sell them to students at a discounted price. Old uniforms and bows might be lucrative specialty items (especially around Halloween time). Selling old items is a great way to clear out space while raising the necessary funds for your squad. Just be sure keep at least a couple of the older uniforms for archival purposes.

  • 7. Host an invitational tournament at your school

    Host a cheerleading competition and provide an opportunity for squads to show off their hard work, athleticism, and skill. Encourage other high school teams to compete, but require a donation to participate. Ask spectators for a donation as an entrance fee. This fundraiser is ideal for schools with large facilities that can afford to take safety measures such as providing mats. Make sure all participants sign liability waivers, and bring in a panel of qualified judges.

  • 8. Game day trivia

    Create a fan-based trivia game for a pre-game day event, and have people donate to participate. Maybe that means learning more about the individual players, or the origin of the sports team, or why the mascot is a giant mongoose. Make sure not to release the answers until the next day, so people will be discussing the possible answers throughout the game. Have people send in their answers (and combined donations) by midnight that night so they can be entered to win a prize, like free hot dogs from the concession stand, or photographs with all the players.

Cheer for fundraising

Cheerleaders are some of the most energetic people on campus, so their personalities naturally lend themselves to successful fundraising. By bringing your enthusiasm and school pride to your crowdfunding campaign, you can raise the money needed to keep your squad in the competition. Wondering which crowdfunding platform to choose? GoFundMe is free for fundraisers. Plus, our platform makes it easy to take donations via mobile devices at events, and tap into your squad’s combined and extensive social network.

Start a cheer campaign

Fundraising ideas for golf tournaments

girl playing golf

Golf fundraising tournaments have become extremely popular, especially with celebrities looking to hit a few bogeys and birdies for a deserving cause. The Golf Tournament Association of America reports that there are more than 800,000 golf tournaments dedicated to raising money for charity each year.

Whether or not you get celebrities to attend, you can pull off a successful fairway fundraising event for the charity of your choice. And if you’re already planning on running an online fundraiser, supplementing your crowdfunding campaign with a golf fundraising event can be the perfect way to increase donations and raise awareness in your community.

Golf tournament fundraising ideas

  • 1. Golf-a-thon

    Set up a golf-a-thon fundraiser in which participants ask friends, family, and community members to pledge donations to your campaign. Pledge amounts can vary depending on whether the participant gets a par, bogey, birdie, or hole in one—the lower a player’s score, the greater the donations generated. The winner (worst performer) earns bragging rights and a small prize, such as a lesson donated by a golf pro.

  • 2. Celebrity golf

    According to celebritygolf.com, there are over 30 celebrity charity golf tournaments planned each year. Hop on the bandwagon and bring some legends to the green. Ask local icons like your favorite news anchors and popular college athletes to participate as tournament celebrities, creating incentives for community members to participate. If the beneficiary of your campaign can attend your fundraiser and play, have him or her serve as the celebrity—after all, the entire event is dedicated to helping that person.

  • 3. Mulligans for money

    In the golf world, a mulligan is a bad stroke replayed without a penalty. Capitalize on this golf rule by having participants buy tokens for mulligans through your fundraising page. Traditionally, each person gets about one mulligan per round, but since this is a fundraiser, pick a maximum number to sell to each participant, perhaps two or three—they’re likely to purchase the maximum so competing players don’t get an extra advantage.

  • 4. On-course contests

    An entry fee isn’t the only way to get donations from your golf tournament. Throughout the event, hold various short contests that bring in bonus donations for your cause. Participants can enter each contest by making an online donation via a mobile device. They can then challenge each other on the course to spark healthy competition. Considering the following on-course contests:

    Closest to the pin

    You’ll need a pen, ball markers, and a tape measure. In essence, this is a putting contest. Each player gets one stroke. After each, measure the distance from ball to pin, then record that number and the player’s name on the ball marker before replacing the ball with the marker. Once everyone’s had a chance to hit, the ball markers make it clear who the winner is.

    Longest putt

    For participants waiting to tee off, set up a putting contest to see who can successfully sink the longest putt. You could also run this as a standalone contest on a putting green.

    Grip it and rip it: The longest drive

    Many golfers are familiar with the phrase grip it and rip it. This contest tests who can hit the ball the farthest. Use multicolored or marked balls that can be used to determine the winner once each player has made a drive.

Be a caddie for change

No matter what the official score, a golf tournament is a win-win for everyone involved. It rallies communities together, gives people a chance to play on a course they might not have had access to otherwise, and raises money for a worthy cause. Start your sport fundraiser on GoFundMe and supplement your online campaign with a rewarding golf tournament fundraiser.

Start a golf campaign

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