Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fundraising - Is it needed and, if so, how should it be handled?

Fundraising is a part of most amateur sports, especially when travel is involved.  The question is, is it worth it for the parents and kids doing the fundraising?

Philosophically, I think fundraising by kids is good.  It helps teach the kids responsibility and makes them take ownership of defraying some of the costs their parents are paying. 

Practically, finding a way to defray costs is really important for resource-challenged families who don't have the disposable income to pay for youth sports. 

Still, is it worth the time?   There is a TON on the internet about fundraising ideas but not much, if anything, about whether it is time effective. 

Without talking about the legalities of fundraising where kids or parents are making money at an activity yet not having it count as income that the IRS knows about, let's talk about the profit in fundraising.   Here are some questions to ask:

1. What is the TRUE profit?  Here are some things to think about:  

a. Time spent - Assuming a minimum wage of $10 an hour, in the end did your profit equal 14 times the hours you spent (assuming you have to work 4 hours to pay the income tax on every 10 hours of work if someone worked a minimum wage job instead of doing the fundraising)?

b. Hidden costs - People contribute a roll of tape, posterboard for signs, a bottle of ketchup and, in some cases, everyone is asked to bring a dessert or a 12 pack of water or soda.   Make sure you include these costs when considering your true profit and, in fact, the time it took you to do these tasks. 

c. Fundraiser chairperson - Assuming a parent is doing this, that person (or people) should include the cost of their time.  When they do that, was it still worth their time?

If you really look critically, is it worth your time to do fundraising?  Some clubs make it easy for you and only make you sell tickets to an event.   Still, there is a cost associated with that in terms of the kids' and parents' time.   Is it really worth it?

For big fundraising events (trivia nights, night at the races, etc.) you have to ask yourself where the bottom line profit is going.  Does it go to help the club?  Does it go to defray your specific costs for playing on that team?  My favorite answer is 'It helps defray the overhead for running the club and, in that way, makes it so we don't have to charge you as much money'.  Given what you have read below, isn't it the club administration's job to defray overhead and aren't there plenty of ways they should be thinking about doing that?   Look, there is a lot of money to be made off events like this.  Besides the cost of admission you have concessions, (e.g., beer, food) 50/50 raffles, etc.  If all that profit is not going directly to the people who set up and worked that event, you have to ask yourself why not. 

Two of the themes of the posts on this blog are transparency and accountability.   I am not saying this happens in any club in this region but it is so easy to hide where profits from fundraising that I think clubs need to be extra transparent on the balance sheet for fundraising.  And parents need to ask for that transparency.

I will leave you with this example.   My club used to run tournaments at local gyms.   I did all the work to get those tournaments sanctioned, recruit the teams, did all the scheduling myself, fill out all the paperwork necessary to get the facilities, came in and set up everything the day before.  All this was done for free by me to help defray costs and I got no money for that.  Parents were assigned jobs as far as concessions and set up and tear down/cleanup and had to participate by bringing food items. 
Everything considered we made roughly $1500 in net profit for two tournaments with ZERO money going to the club and all of it going to the players/families who worked the event.  That's about $150 a family for two tournaments.   Using the math above, that is equivalent to working about 21 hours at minimum wage over those two events.  The question that parents need to ask themselves is whether the time they spent was worth the money they made.  After dong this for two years the parents of my teams all voted not to do it again as they said that it was not worth their time, based on the money they made.  And that was with me spending probably 30 hours myself to make those tournaments happen and the coaches of the teams also pitching in for free for maybe 15 hours total to help out. 

So, I am not telling you to NOT fundraise with your club.  I am asking you to consider TRUE profit and to ask your club for an accounting of where the money is going and, if it is going to the nebulous 'overhead', ask them what, in detail, overhead means and if there aren't other ways to defray overhead.   If some or most of the fundraiser profit is going to pay salaries of club administrators, I think parents show know that.   In my opinion, fundraising profits should go 100% to defray the costs of individual families and should not be going to the club or its administrators or coaches. 

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