This time of year, leagues are in full fundraising mode, raising money from local businesses and community members to support annual league operations. Little League® strongly recommends that local leagues outline each of these relationships with a simple sponsorship agreement that details what the league will provide in exchange for the donation.
Here are six real-life scenarios that Little League recommends your Board of Directors consider before signing any local sponsor agreement:
1. A local business asks us to sign an agreement that requires our local league to indemnify and insure the business for all activities they employ, or any donations of equipment, or supplies they provide to us. They have also asked us to release them from any liability associated with these activities or donations. Should we agree to this?
No. Little League International, or any of its chartered leagues, are not responsible for taking on the liability of the activity of a sponsor, even if that sponsor is supporting a local Little League team, or is associated with the league through a sponsorship agreement.
2. Our website provider is offering us free league management tools in exchange for use of our mailing list (e.g. parent email addresses).
No local league is allowed to share the personal or private information of anyone connected with the local league. This includes phone numbers (home or mobile), residential addresses, e-mail addresses, and social media user names. Ask questions of your online registration and web services providers before signing an agreement. Exercise a great deal of caution when registering league members for mailings and lists from third parties. If the league decides that there is an offering that it wishes to provide to its players and volunteers, the league is responsible for obtaining permission or consent before the personal information is shared.
3. The sponsorship agreements asks that I give permission to use my local league name/logo? Is this permissible?
No. Local leagues, through their charter with Little League® Baseball and Softball, have the rights to use the words “Little League” in their name. This right does not permit the local league to extend the trademarks to any third party. Do not give your league logo to a business to use to commercially market their products or services, which is likely an effort to profit from the local league and from the Little League name. We recommend providing the business with a keepsake from the season such as a banner or team photo to commemorate their sponsorship of the local league, and allow them to tout their association with the league.
4. A local restaurant sponsors our league. It would like to create a sandwich menu item named “Little League Sandwich” and donate a portion of the proceeds for every item sold.
No business entity may profit off of the local league. This scenario is driven by the local business profits and not the goodwill to the community.
5. We have the opportunity to host an online store on our local league website. The online store provider is offering us a small profit on each item sold.
Online stores, while commonplace in today’s e-marketplace, are a challenge to monitor when accounting for the profit that truly benefits the league. Many models pay leagues a small percentage of the profit on the goods and retain the rest for themselves. A store with reasonable pricing options that lets a league garner the majority of the profit falls in line with our Operating Guidelines.
Little League is currently evaluating a number of e-commerce stores. At the present time, there is no local league store permitted to use the Little League trademarks, other than LittleLeagueUniforms.com.
6. A local bank is interested in providing the necessary funding for a field renovation project. In return, the bank is asking for field naming rights, and wants to be referred to as “the official bank of Hometown Little League.” The local bank also would like to film a commercial demonstrating this relationship.
While the donation is permissible, the terms under which the business is providing the donation, are not. A local Little League does not have the right to provide the usage of the Little League name or trademarks to any business or organization without the express written permission of Little League Baseball®, Incorporated. This includes those local agencies or organizations that wish to contribute a substantial amount of funding to the local league, as in the case of a field renovation. If a league owns its playing fields, and wishes to make the name rights a salable item, it can do so given the name or the company’s product adheres to Little League’s regulations.
Leagues are reminded to pay careful attention to use of Little League trademarks in league activities. Guidance is provided in the 2016 Little League Rules, Regulations, and Operating Policies as well as on our website. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.