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Local League Guidelines for Fundraising After COVID-19

Little League® International understands the impact that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had on its local leagues, and the important role that local fundraising and sponsorships play in allowing those leagues to operate efficiently. This year more than ever, leagues should try to avoid an increase in registration fees however possible. Also, try to avoid a volunteer buyout fee, if possible, and use fundraising and volunteerism to create a community spirit in the league.

As your league looks ahead to returning to the field in 2021, and writing the next chapter of the Little League story, the first to take is to review the Little League Finance Guide to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on your league’s finances, develop a budget for the upcoming season, and identify potential challenges and opportunities within the community.

While evaluating the Finance Guide, your league may want to consider creating a Financial Committee, led by the League Treasurer, that is charged with identifying priority spending needs. The committee should identify what league expenses are imminent vs. what can be deferred (e.g. facility improvements that are not safety related, capital projects) or are non-essential items, as well as negotiate with government, municipalities, and community groups (i.e. neighborhood association, chamber of commerce, etc.) to lower fees, defer payments, understand flexibility for payments in the event of a pause in season activities, or to help identify funding sources for the league.

Once your league has fully reviewed the guidance in the Financial Guide, and understands the needs surrounding your 2021 budget, here are some tips to consider as you develop your league’s fundraising approach for the upcoming season:

  • Establish a Fundraising Committee to oversee all fundraising and sponsorship activities
    • This year, it’s even more important to formalize a group within your Board of Directors to assist with fundraising efforts of all sorts; collect ideas, assign individuals to specific tasks, and build opportunities to generate funds in the community.
    • The Fundraising Committee can include members of the Financial Committee, and both should work closely together.
    • The Fundraising Committee should establish a communication plan that focuses on reaching out to businesses and other community organizations to explain the season offering for 2021 and the financial state of the league.
  • Review sponsorship efforts
    • Evaluate the state of businesses in your community
      • Focus on identifying new businesses and community organizations to target.
      • Some of the businesses that have been successful may be larger companies, healthcare facilities, etc., that have opportunities to support local non-profit organizations, but the lead time and process in obtaining that support may take longer than small businesses.
    • Did you offer to extend current sponsorships into 2021? If so, fully review those opportunities and factor that into your sponsorship plans.
    • Continue to offer frequent updates to your sponsors on your plans for the season in 2021 as they develop.
    • Identify incremental opportunities to promote sponsors and provide new opportunities for exposure in 2021 that haven’t been available before (e.g. utilize your league’s social media platforms and other digital platforms if you haven’t already).
    • Create a calendar for targeting sponsors and identifying potential new sponsors leading up to and throughout the 2021 season.
    • Consider a tiered system to allow both new and returning businesses to provide varying levels of financial assistance, based on their post-pandemic economic status.
    • Provide local sponsors with a tiered banner opportunity program, promoting businesses throughout the field/complex at different price points, as well as through your league’s social media efforts and website.
  • Include fundraising in your league’s registration efforts
    • Have an option to accept donations from parents to support specific needs, such as player scholarship donations or in-kind donations of equipment, during the online or in-person registration process.
    • Alert parents to mandatory fundraisers that they will be asked to participate in throughout the season.
    • Consider the possibility of involving current players and/or alumni in a single, league-operated fundraising initiative.
    • Work with local sponsors and organizations to generate fundraising ideas, such as:
      • Fundraising take-out nights
      • Special discount cards or sales
      • Online product fundraising opportunities (e.g. novelty items)
  • Utilize your concession stand
    • Leagues should follow local and/or state guidance when considering operating food or concession sales.
    • Leagues opting to operate food and/or concession sales should also review and understand the CDC’s guidelines.
    • Create a formal plan for the concession stand to generate revenue and identify where those funds will be allocated.
    • Ask families to donate supplies for the concession stand to limit overhead and supply costs.
    • Visit the Little League® Concession Guide, sponsored by Lance (coming soon) for additional guidance.
  • Evaluate digital fundraising opportunities
    • Participate in Little League’s virtual fundraising campaign launching in early 2021 for U.S. leagues (More information on this initiative will be available in December 2020).
    • Evaluate crowdfunding efforts in accordance with Little League’s Official Operating Policies to ensure you are securing low fees and adhering to Little League’s trademark guidelines.
    • Start a challenge, similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, that sparks engagement with other neighboring leagues and/or organizations to raise awareness for a cause (such as a scholarship program).
  • Explore potential grant opportunities
    • Utilize the new Little League grant resources website (LittleLeague.org/GrantResources) as a starting point to identify the types of opportunities that may be available to you. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce and other local organizations to research more opportunities in your area.
    • Explore local, state, federal, foundation, and corporate grants that your league may be eligible for.
    • Speak with local community and municipal leaders to determine what funding and/or assistance may be available.
  • Take advantage of a donation bucket during league events, using public address announcements to drive parents and supporters to donate money at a specific location (e.g. concession stand) that will go towards a specific cause (such as a scholarship program)
    • It is important to be transparent and identify where those funds will be used.
    • Rather than utilizing a “pass-the-can” fundraiser, which can violate a number of COVID-19 restrictions, establish a single location on your league’s complex that funds can be gathered by a league official.
  • Use league-wide events, such as community gatherings, as fundraising opportunities (if permitted by local/municipal COVID-19 guidelines)
    • Host an Opening Day or mid-season celebration where sponsors can vend and/or attend to be recognized for their support
      • Include auctions, raffles, food trucks, local restaurant stands, games, or other on-site fundraising mechanisms.
    • Hold a camp or clinic, utilizing the volunteer coaches to work on drills and techniques while increasing awareness for the league.
    • Start a pitch-a-thon or hit-a-thon event that raises money (specific donation per out, per home run, per strike, etc.); Work with sponsors to provide prizes to top performers.
    • Host a community event throughout the year to bring everyone together, such as a trivia night, talent show, scavenger hunt, golf outing, car wash, etc.
    • Invite sponsors out to the league for a sponsorship day that highlights all the supporters of the league.

If you have any additional questions, or need additional guidance surrounding sponsorship and fundraising opportunities, email marketing@LittleLeague.org.