Facebook Contest Results in Great Ideas for Boosting Registration
Little League International’s recent Facebook contest has resulted in plenty of great ideas for boosting local league registration. The contest, which ran for one week last month on Little League’s Facebook page, asked for the best ideas that a local league could use to help bring more families into the Little League program.
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The contest is just one of the features available on Little League’s Facebook pages. In only a year, Little League International staff members have answered thousands of questions from volunteers all around the world on Facebook. Little League now has more than 36,000 “fans” on its various Facebook pages, with the largest of the pages being Little League Baseball & Softball.
Once the ideas were submitted, a panel at Little League International chose the top three from among dozens of qualifying entries. Those winners are:
First Place – Janice Pearson of Yacolt, Wash.
Janice, a member of the Board of Directors at North Clark Little League, and the parent of a Little Leaguer, has this advice:
- “We are trying to reach out to other groups, sports in our community and help each other with advertising. We ask the soccer league if they will pass out our flyers, announce our registration dates towards the end of their season. We ask the local schools and churches if they can put our registration info in their newsletters. We ask the school if we can advertise at their events for our league. I’ve found that if you come across that you want to help each other, the other organizations are open to help.”
Second Place -- Michelle LaFreniere of Westville, Ind.
Michelle, a district staff member, an umpire, a member of the Board of Directors at State Park Little League, and a parent of a Little Leaguer, said this:
- “We are trying a few things this year. The first thing we are trying is an early registration. We are offering $10 off the child’s registration if they register in December. We are also offering a $25 per family discount if you did not play with our league last year. We are also trying an incentive program where if an existing family brings in three new registrations, their child will play for free. Lastly, we are also going to free up some weekends and not schedule games on every weekend, giving the kids opportunities to go on vacations, or play other sports.”
Third Place – Jim Douglas of Central Point, Ore.
Jim, an Assistant District Administrator and umpire in Oregon District 8, has this to say:
- “Most leagues charge a sign-up fee. Offer a reduced rate or free to all new players. When I was President we started upper division baseball and offered it for free and got corporate sponsors to pay for all we needed for the kids. It was a big success and is still going strong.”
The first-place prize was a hat, T-shirt and windshirt from the Little League Collection. Second place won a T-shirt and hat, and third place won a hat.
Little League International thanks everyone who took part in the contest. Here are some “honorable mention” ideas leagues should consider:
- When I was in my local league I found the best way to recruit new softball players was to hand out flyers at my daughter’s school functions. My daughter was very involved in school sports and activities. After games I would approach girls and their parents and ask them why they weren’t playing softball. We increased my program by four teams the first year we did this. If we go where children are already playing a sport, it is easier to get them to join our program.
- We advertise in two local papers, we send a flyer home in the student’s home folder, we have schools make announcements, we post a banner on the lawn out front of our park, we mail out flyers to previously registered children, we hold the registration during the local basketball finals since hundreds of people pass through the doors to see the games, and we post it on our eteamz.com site and also on our Facebook page.
- I would have options like online payment plans where parents can choose a payment plan where they can sign-up and pay by credit card on certain dates.
- For a mother of three Little League children, I would appreciate a layaway payment option. So that when registration happens, the cost doesn’t burden our family as much, especially right after the holidays.
- For registration, have a few raffle prize giveaways – gear-related items or gift cards that would help kids buy themselves a new glove, a bat, sliding pants, cleats, etc. This day could also host one or more members from the local district staff so members of the community can meet the volunteers who help make leagues run and understand that the work behind the scenes goes far beyond the local level. The league could also host a gently used equipment swap or sale while the registration is occurring.
- Posting bright colored flyers locally where most people go is a great way to get parents and kids to notice upcoming registration dates. We have a community sign, school sign, grocery store window, hair salon window, and bulletin boards in popular businesses. We also place the flyers in the local paper and have them sent home with the kids. The board tends to forget that you need to get the word out to people who know nothing about Little League. Make yourselves available, and be friendly.
- This idea is not from my local league, but one I heard of from another league. They held a registration event for the 2011 season at a local restaurant. Families who registered that night got a discount! What a nice atmosphere for the event, and it brought in business for the restaurant - win-win for the league and a local small business owner. Our league has a family who owns a local restaurant - we’ll be calling them to see if we can do this too!
- We offered Fall Ball for the first time this year. The turnout was very low (even for this small league). We ended up with two teams of 14 players on the 7-9-year-old teams. We played hard, even in the frigid cold and rain, and the kids really benefited from this experience and became better ball players. We even had a special session with some professional trainers for these 28 kids. When all was said and done, the record was 3-3! We decided to get each kid a T-shirt. On the front was “I Survived the LL Fall Brawl!” The idea was to give the kids something special AND get the word out at school with these awesome T-shirts. It worked! There is a lot of buzz about Fall Ball and Little League in general. As the webmaster for our site, I can say our “hits” have gone up too!
- We already do a lot – snail mail to returning players, email blasts, banners posted at schools, radio ads, press releases to local papers, timely notice on our website, and we hold registration at a popular sporting goods store. For a new idea, I would suggest putting a desk with forms and volunteers to answer questions for a day or two in front of each elementary and middle school in our boundary.
- We are offering $5 to any returning player for each new player they recruit, up to $25 total. The player can continue to recruit new players, and the player who recruits the most new players will be refunded his/her entire registration fee.
- My idea for more kids to be involved in local Little League programs is to offer FREE baseball/softball. Our town is a small town where many children are considered at or below the poverty level. Parents are stressed about every day life and bills, and they feel it is not at all possible for them to afford an organized sport. We, at our local Little League, do not want that to be the reason that any child misses out on the opportunity of a lifetime. We are able to bring in funds to cover operational costs by local fundraising, concessions, and corporate sponsorships.
- This year our league went to some of the Fall Festivals held at the local grade schools. We also handed out coupons for registration at an event held at our local YMCA. Setting up a Facebook page to get out info works too.
- Little League must target the parents as much if not more than the kids. It can be done by making the sign-ups as a GRAND EVENT. Have retired MLB or local minor league or even college players support the opening of signups. Ensure that the signups are posted so that nobody can miss them. And if allowed, have school PE teachers promote the Little League season that is approaching.
- My husband is the president of our local Little League and we have come up with the idea of entering a float in our city’s Christmas parade. Our players will be on the baseball-themed float and the board of directors and parents will be walking to hand out candy canes with fliers attached. The flier will announce dates for sign ups and registration. It will also have details of free events to keep the kids interested over the winter.
- With the economy the way it is in our area right now, it is all about affordability. Trying to find ways outside the league to bring in funds to help those that aren’t able to come up with the funds is important, such as more sponsors, fundraisers, etc. Attracting fun sponsors also would help. A child is attracted to anything they feel is fun. So the local kid-friendly restaurant on a sign or jersey I feel would attract some.
- I think that the cost to play is pretty steep for a lot of parents. In our league, it’s almost $160 dollars for the Minors. That’s a tough sell in these economic times.
- Participate as a vendor during elementary school country fairs, holiday fairs and spring carnivals. Our school’s PTA has vendors at two or three events each year. Little League could have a registration table for the upcoming season (Fall or Spring). Costs may be free, or up to $50. It’s a convenient way for parents of young children to register their children, at events in which they already have money with them. And for new parents or parents new to a community, it’s the perfect way to have questions answered about the local little league program.
- I would also have a raffle for five free registrations. After everyone signs up we will pull one name from each division and refund their money. I also think by running a good Little League every year your numbers will increase each year. I know at our league we strive not only for excellence, but to teach each kid about baseball and about life lessons. If you do that, numbers will never be a problem.
- My idea to get more kids to sign up to play in our local Little League would be to hold a registration day filled with activities, such as players from the local university/high schools teaching the kids, food, prizes (bats, gloves, cleats, etc., hopefully donated by local sporting stores) and music. Just a fun day that no one would want to miss.
- If there were events only Little League participants and their families could enjoy more kids would be enticed to play Little League Baseball or Softball. Growing up my family was going to different fields at different times and it was hard to find family time during April through August. I am sure there is a way to get a trade out deal with companies so kids receive free movie passes, discounts at local water parks, ice skating rinks or aquariums or zoos in the area.
- I would recommend that “Little League liaisons” from each league reach out to the zoned schools for their leagues. Ask the Principal if a short presentation can be made and or flyers can be handed out, posted or advertising in their school paper. And contact the local school districts and to see if a link to Little League can be inserted on their site.
- We need to do better outreach into the Hispanic communities by having more advertising in Spanish, and get managers, coaches and board members out on the streets encouraging Hispanic kids to sign up. We also need to solicit businesses to donate to a scholarship program for low income kids to reduce or eliminate fees for economically-challenged kids.
- To get more kids involved you have to get the community and families involved. Invite local businesses to sponsor certain games and have incentives given out. Have a “Bring your (family member) former Little League Player Day.” Bring back the family, and you bring back Little League.
- Make the cost less. Advertise scholarships and registration, not just in the local paper. Put up banners around town, either do a flyer campaign in the district or do a mass mailing and state that scholarships are available on the banners and flyers.
- What we have done is lowered our registration fee to just $25 per player. We offer several fundraisers during the season to help us cover costs. We also have made a big push in our community to support our League. Four years ago when my husband and I took over we had 142 kids. This past season we have more than 280, and we started girls softball. This year we are hoping to expand by adding Junior and Seniors. We have made our league fun for the whole family - not just the players.
- A registration recruitment drive where the kid that signs up the most “new” players wins a prize such as a new bat or equipment bag.
- Our leagues numbers have gone down the last year or two, so my idea for this year is that we are going to ask the kids and coaches, managers, board members and parents to wear their team or All-Star shirts to school one day. Hopefully that will have people asking about our league and sparking an interest in the best league in Virginia.
Editor’s note: The ideas above may have been edited for clarity and/or grammar. While many of the entries submitted are noted above, some may have been deleted because the ideas would have required the purchase of insurance that is not provided by Little League, or because the idea did not meet the criteria for the contest (ideas for new rules at the International level, ideas specific to one league or district, etc.).