How to Put the “Fun” in Fundraising

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Cheerleading can be an expensive sport. Uniforms, transportation, and competition fees are just a few of the costs that add up–fast. There’s no reason that fundraising can’t be fun.

Set Specific Goals and Deadlines

Whether you’re looking to buy new practice mats or plane tickets for Nationals, people are usually more willing to donate if they know what their money will be used for. A specific goal also makes it easier to decide how much you need to raise, what type of fundraiser to hold, and how long it should last.

If you’re holding a sale such as 50/50 raffle tickets or merchant discount cards, decide how many shifts each cheerleader must work.

You can collect money along the way to keep track of how well you’re doing, or in one big batch at the end. Either way, give plenty of notice–in writing–of due dates and deadlines.

Be Creative

There are five basic types of fundraisers:

      • games of chance such as raffles and punch cards
      • services such as car washes and babysitting
      • product sales such as discount cards and cookie dough
      • outright donations such as sponsorships and gifts
      • contests such as walks

Once you decide on the type of fundraiser, think creatively. Instead of a raffle, a school with an agriculture program hosts an annual “cow plop” bingo game. Instead of just babysitting, offer a clinic for younger cheerleaders with a pizza dinner, t-shirt, and a chance to perform at halftime or a sleepover in the gym. (The day after Thanksgiving is a great day for this activity–children can have fun while their parents shop–er–meet with Santa!) For product sales, sell items that pump up the crowd or show team or school spirit, such as thunder sticks, rooter poms, and water bottles. Instead of a walk, host a cheer-a-thon.

Get Permission From Your School or Organization

Your organization may require you to submit a written request or accounting or give them a percentage of your profits. Get the requirements in advance, in writing.

Don’t Duplicate the Efforts of Another Group

If your PTA conducts an annual cookie dough sale, or a team at another level is hosting a cheer clinic, choose a different fundraiser.

Research Tax Requirements

You can probably use your school or organization’s non-profit number for tax purposes. Tax requirements vary by state, and some states exempt fundraisers below a certain amount so be sure to research the fundraising tax laws.

Figure Expenses Ahead of Time

Don’t forget to account for the cost of expenses and prizes. Car washes require buckets, sponges, soap, and hoses. Clinics for young cheerleaders may include a meal or t-shirt. (They’re good advertising for next year’s clinic!) Raffle tickets, banners, and calendars require printing. (Ask if you can get your printing donated by making the printer a sponsor!)

Give Prizes

Give a prize to everyone who participates, anyone who raises more than the minimum, the person who sells the most, etc. Prizes don’t have to cost money–try captain for a day, a day off from conditioning, or dousing your coach with a bucket of something gooey!

Use a Reputable Company with Quality Products

There are literally hundreds of fundraising companies that offer thousands of different products. One such company is Fun’d2Raise, which offers scratch-off donation cards!

If you use an outside company, be sure to check their BBB rating and reviews from previous customers.

Be Safe

When selling to the public always make sure you are accompanied by an adult. If you plan to sell outside local stores, get the manager’s permission.


Getting donations from businesses can be easier than you think, especially if you offer them a nice plaque, trophy, or banner. Incentives should increase with the donation; for example, $50 gets a link on your website, $100 gets an ad in the school paper, or $500 gets a banner at games. Some retailers allow customers to link loyalty reward cards to organizations so each purchase earns a percentage. Pizza parlors, doctors, dentists, and local stores of national chains are often enthusiastic sponsors. Remember, if you don’t ask, you’ll never hear, “Yes!”

Double Check Your Accounting

Whether you have co-treasurers, an auditor, or a committee, you will avoid a lot of headaches if you have more than one person keep track of the money. With a written report checked by at least one other person, you will be better able to catch errors and reassure your contributors and organization that the money is used for its intended purpose. A written report should include suggestions for improvements for future fundraisers.

Show Your Appreciation

Be polite, smile, and be sure to say thank you. It’s also nice to send a card, handwritten note, or signed team photo.

With a little bit of planning and a lot of enthusiasm, your team can have a fun, productive fundraiser. Good luck, and have fun!

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Marge Packman

Marge was a member of her high school pom team and has coached youth and school cheer for over 17 years. She has a BA in English from Northern Illinois University (Go, Huskies!). After graduation she joined the Peace Corps, met her husband, and moved to The OC. After cheer practice, you can find her watching football with her son or perusing the scrapbooking aisles with her daughter.


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