10 Fundraising Ideas for High School Sports

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Soccer coach with boys teamHigh school sports are essential to student development. Sports can provide students with discipline, promote fitness, and foster a sense of community. However, high school sports funding is increasingly at risk, causing schools to either cancel programs or drastically change the way they operate.

Why Fundraising Is Fundamental

More than ever, schools are relying on fundraising ideas for high school sports so they can host and participate in interscholastic sports programs and events. Through effective fundraising strategies, an event can help schools cover a variety of sports-related expenses, such as equipment costs, uniforms, travel, facility maintenance, and staff. Furthermore, fundraising events provide schools with an opportunity to spread awareness for issues and causes.

Before hosting a fundraising event, a school must consider the federal, state, and local laws associated with it. It is imperative that schools abide by these policies to ensure they can collect funds and hold similar events in the future. Example laws include:

Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004: The act ensures that food-related fundraising events follow nutrition guidelines.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972: Title IX ensures that fundraising events benefit and serve both sexes equally.
Tort law: Tort law ensures that schools are mindful of hazards and dangers associated with student participation in fundraising events.
State gambling laws: These laws may affect fundraisers such as raffles, although some states make exceptions for schools and other nonprofits.

Although schools must take legal and ethical precautions before hosting an event, a fundraiser can provide considerable benefits to a school’s programs. Fundraising is now considered the lifeblood behind high school sports and can be an incredibly effective tool for any school.

Fundraising Ideas for High School Sports at a Glance

When creating an event, administrators should consider ways to promote the fundraiser and amplify its impact, such as creating fliers to generate buzz, sharing imagery of the fundraiser on a school’s social media accounts during the event to spread awareness, or creating a blog or newsletter article sharing post-fundraiser highlights. By taking a multichannel approach to fundraising, a high school can increase community involvement before, during, and after each event.

Pledge Drives

A pledge drive is one of the most straightforward approaches to fundraising. Either in person or online, a pledge drive asks community members to donate small amounts on a recurring schedule. This establishes low-impact donating for participants while guaranteeing an ongoing revenue stream for the school.

50/50 Raffles

50/50 raffles involve selling raffle tickets to a sporting event’s attendees. When a winning ticket is drawn, the winner and the school split the prize in half — 50/50. Typically, the prize is the money received from raffle ticket sales, so the more contributors, the larger the pot.

Food Trucks on Game Day

Including food trucks on game day is an easy-to-execute fundraising idea for high school sports. A school invites food trucks to sell at an event, and the school receives a percentage of the truck’s profits. Not only is this a fun way to engage the community, but it also provides an opportunity to highlight local food vendors and chefs.

Restaurant Partnerships

Partnering with restaurants is a fun and easy fundraiser. Schools hold an event at a restaurant and receive a percentage of the establishment’s profits, offering a simple way to engage the community and promote local businesses.

Faculty Challenges

Faculty challenges are school-run events whose ticket sales go directly to the school. An example might be a faculty vs. students sports competition, such as a basketball or dodgeball game. Not only do faculty challenges provide a fun way to raise money, but they also bring students and teachers closer together.

Fundraising Collaborations with Outside Organizations

Collaborating with outside organizations is an effective and exciting way to engage a community. Schools should consider partnering with organizations that could increase the budget for their events by sponsoring them or increase engagement through promotional items and giveaways.

High school administrators may find the process of partnering with outside organizations challenging due to the increased paperwork, time spent negotiating agreements, and efforts to find an organization that aligns with the fundraiser mission, but the reward and increased exposure often make the partnership a profitable endeavor.

Event Hosting

Event hosting engages a community around a competition or performance, such as a football game, carnival, or play, with the school raising funds by charging admission. While hosting an event, schools should consider including other strategies (e.g., a restaurant partnership or faculty challenge).

Athletic Clinics

Hosting ticketed athletic clinics allows student-athletes to develop skills while contributing to the fundraising goal. Inviting athletes of all levels and ages to participate will engage a wider audience.

Community Training Classes

Similar to athletic clinics, community training classes offer community members an opportunity to learn new skills while contributing to the fundraising efforts. Examples include painting, yoga, and writing classes.

Reserved Parking on Game Day

Schools can charge community members for front-row parking on game day. With a minimal cost of operations, offering reserved parking is a popular and easy way to fundraise.

The Skills of Fundraising

Modern high school sports programs rely on community and administrative support through fundraisers. Conceiving of, organizing, and executing successful fundraising ideas for high school sports requires a specific set of skills: leadership to manage conflict and delegate tasks, problem-solving to navigate complications, communication to clearly express instructions and appreciate feedback, teamwork to inspire and manage groups of volunteers, and a high level of organization to monitor details. Current and aspiring administrators can build and hone these skills and more in a master’s program such as Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration.

Develop Skills for a Career in Athletic Administration

Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration curriculum is designed to help students become trusted authorities in any interscholastic administrative setting, with courses such as Administration of Interscholastic Athletic Programs, Facility Management and Programming, Ethics in Sports, and Financial Administration of Sport Facilities and Programs. Learn more about how Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration can help students build a career in athletic administration and fundraising.

Recommended Readings

Challenges of Adding New Sports to Athletic Programs
Legal Protection for Athletic Trainers
Thinking Outside the Box: Revenue Sources for Athletic Departments


Education Law, “Fundraising in School: Challenges, Issues, Guidelines, and Policies”
National PTA, “Questions to Consider When Developing Fundraising Strategies”
Ohio University, “7 Essential Traits of a Successful Athletic Director”
The Sports Daily, “Why Fundraisers are Important to Football Teams”
We Are Teachers, “36 Chain Restaurants That Do Fundraisers”