Success Stories

2 May 2016

We work with Fundraising4Sport partners across large and small organisations, at a local grassroots level, and with elite national sporting organisations. This means that we have a wealth of information to share. Whatever F4S category your project fits into, you can find interesting and useful examples of projects, fundraising and marketing strategies and tactics and donor acknowledgements in our case studies.

We can also help you get in touch with any of the clubs or organisations from our case studies if you want to find out more about specific details on projects.

A top AFL Club set out three years ago to move locations and build a state of the art facility. This was going to be a $26million venture and needed both government and community support. The Club secured both State and Federal Grants for the projects but to bridge the funding gap they sought to raise $6million from local supporters. It was for this community funding effort that the Club sought our help.

How They Sold the Project:

The Club was leaving a facility in which they had a long history and which the community was emotionally connected to. Thus, in order to properly sell this project, they needed to make sure to nail the messaging. They overcame this obstacle by promoting that the facility was going to be first-class and an industry leader. Through their marketing materials, they demonstrated what was currently available on the market and how the proposed facility plans blew those out of the water and would have long term benefits to the club that would otherwise be lost. This effort proved successful in gaining both grassroots and high net-worth support.

Target Audience:

The Club targeted both the general members of the Club and high net-worth individuals. They had the target of raising $3million from each of these target groups. Before going outside the Club for requests, the Club got the Board, the CEO, the players, and other internal members to commit a pledge to the project. It was through this foundation that the Board built a list of targeted supporters and became Champions of the project.

With this momentum, they created a First 18 Club. This elite group gave the Club the framework to start gaining commitments from 18 individuals for a minimum pledge of $100,000. In no time, the Club reached the 18 member goal and now have nearly 30 members. The campaign was so successful that the Club needed to retain a Fundraising Manager to look after the Club members and foster these relationships.

On the grassroots level, the success was not as immediate. The Club first sent out direct mail seeking support but their numbers were a lot lower than market research suggested. In a desperate effort to gain traction, the club retained a grassroots Fundraiser Manager to take on this project. However, this role was short lived as the direct mail and other targeted marketing efforts did not take off. The club only raised about half million dollars from these initial efforts. However, recently the club has moved to requesting a donation when renewing membership and have turned the corner with this fundraising effort.

Vision Beyond This Project:

Before this High Performance Center project, the Club treated fundraising as a revenue stream outside of their business model and plans. It was seen as a “nice to have” but not part of the overall business. However, since the project, the Club has moved fundraising into their core business modeling.

The Club is currently developing a comprehensive plan for a Foundation that will have several pillars and that will open the doors to more community support. This Foundation will include player development, facilities, and youth development. They feel this more comprehensive plan will give donors more choices of when they want to give and what they want to donate to.

One of Australia’s Olympic sports started out with government support to cover their Olympic costs. While funded this way they were constantly on the podium. However, in 2002 when funding ran out the team fell from the podium. In 2006, the organisation partnered with us to rebuild the program and get their teams back on the gold medal podium. Through a meeting with the CEO and Performance Director, and a wealthy supporter, the Patron Project was launched.

The founding Patron created a list of potential members and took to the road to tell the gold medal story and recruit other members. This effort brought on the first eight additional members. The program took off via word of mouth and exposure to the team’s success. Year after year the program has had full commitment levels and brings in an additional $1million in funding.

Patron Program:

When the decision was made to create this program, the sport looked at what they needed to do to ensure this program was successful. The Patron Program is currently a private program, in the sense it is not publicly promoted, and the Patrons are asked to make a four-year commitment of $20,000 per year. The Patrons are delighted to support the sport they love and deepen their involvement with the organisation over the four-year campaign, at the same time as receiving a tax deduction for their donation via the ASF. Despite this project’s low profile, the sport has maintained between 12 and 18 members and has identified the following points of success for the program:

  • Mapped out their vision
    • Every targeted new member is given a full presentation of the vision and the purpose of the Patron Club. They are given a history of the program, the athletes and what the project has done for the Team’s Olympic run. This deeper understanding and connection has made it easy for the potential members to sign on for multiple Olympic Campaigns and to feel that their contributions are creating a real difference.
  • Four-year commitment
    • When a member is brought on, they commit to a four-year cycle. This way they are a part of the team’s journey and they can identify with the medals that they are a part of. This approach also decreased the fundraising efforts and churn rate.
  • Six month updates
    • Every six months the Patrons are sent a thank you letter and a booklet updating them of the team and athletes. These updates include race results, travel schedules, and upcoming events. These booklets help the Patrons gain a deep connection with the 20 athletes that are identified as “podium potential” and that are covered under the Patron Project.
  • Athlete “Thank You”
    • At the end of every year, an athlete will go out and personally thank the Patron and, if requested, may attend a function or event organised by the Patron. While this white glove treatment is not required; it is greatly appreciated by the members.

Marketing Activities

The organisation’s number one priority is educating their members about how their donations are being used. The Organisation strives to constantly update the Patrons with results, letters, and testimonials from their athletes.

  • Booklets
    • Every Patron receives a six month booklet of athletes named to the Team. This booklet gives a deeper dive of the team, their coaches, and the athletes on their road to the Olympics.
  • Local events
    • At local races and events, the Patron members are always invited and are encouraged to bring other potential Patron members. These events have brought on two new Patron members.
  • Welcome Home event
    • After the athletes come home from the Olympics, the Patrons are invited to an exciting and prestigious post-Olympics event. This event allows up-close and personal contact with these Olympic athletes. The event highlights private, behind the scenes stories from the Olympics and all that happened. The athletes give short tales of their times at the Olympics and a highlight video is created for the event. This event is used to catapult commitments for the following Olympic campaign.

Growing the Club:

The Patron Club has been so successful there are currently talks of growing the club into a multi-tier program. The Organisation is working to create a gold, silver, and bronze donation level so more can be a part of the road to the Games.

The National body has also been working with us to offer new campaigns and grow their support database.

Advice to other Organisations:

Know what you need from your funding efforts and know how you want to get there. Every sports organisation needs to understand what kind of fundraising effort they are undertaking. They need to think about “the who, the how and the what” that will best meet their needs. A smaller “athlete equipment” project will look very different to an Olympic fundraising campaign.

We know that not all the clubs strive to raise millions of dollars for a new clubhouse or an Olympic campaign. Many sports just need a small sum to cover the cost of balls, uniforms, or team travel. The following projects are great examples of organisations that had smaller goals but used smart and meaningful ways of raising the monies.

Gungahlin United Football Club

  • Need
    • The club needed to raise $4,000 to cover the costs of practice balls for the Club
  • Ask
    • On registration day, the Club listed a request of a voluntary $25 donation to help the Club buy practice balls
  • Result
    • The club raised the desired funds in one day and was able to secure enough balls for the season

Dural Baptist Church

  • Need
    • The Church wanted to redevelop the sports court (i.e. resurface, line marking, spectator seating, new netting, padding and goal posts). They needed to raise $65,000 for the project
  • Ask
    • The original goal was $40,000, however, the project was going so well that they added further capital work to their project (i.e. refurbish 20-year-old toilet and changing rooms). The Church ran the campaign for a year through information meetings at the church which presented the project vision, and to ask for funds. They also emailed the community, used social media and followed up all donations with “thank you” letters
  • Result
    • The church raised $82,000, exceeding their goal and recently submitted a new application to make more capital improvements to the sports area

American River Progress Association

  • Need
    • The club needed to raise approx. $200,000 to cover the costs of refurbishing their local tennis courts. Their goal was to raise $30,000 through us
  • Ask
    • The Association sent direct mail letters to the club members and the community requesting donations. The Association set up a Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze supporter levels and created a Board of Honor at the courts to feature all those who donated to the project
  • Result
    • The Association successfully raised $23,500 through the ASF, as well as receiving additional donations from government grants and local in-kind giving

Soaring Club of Tasmania

  • Need
    • The Club urgently needed a Training Glider. The project cost was $56,500 and the ASF goal was $44,000
  • Ask
    • The Club did not want to take out a loan out for this endeavor so they spoke to us about setting up a project. A team of several club members sent out an anonymous survey asking for pledges toward the project. With these pledges in hand, the Club began to shop around for a Training Glider
  • Result
    • The Club raised $39,000 in a month and successfully purchased the much-needed Training Glider

Queensland Cricket

  • Need
    • The State Cricket Association needed donations to ensure their facilities continued to be maintained up to their world-class status while not being a financial burden on the Association.
  • Ask
    • A group of 11 cricket loving friends got together and formed the ‘Peter Burge Foundation’ and committed to donating $11,000 per year to support the ongoing maintenance of Queensland Cricket’s outdoor playing and cricket training facilities
  • Results
    • The Club is able to maintain their facilities as Queensland’s premier outdoor playing and cricket training facilities for not only for all Queensland and Brisbane Heat teams but by visiting interstate teams and overseas teams visiting Australia. Over many years, the generous members of the ‘Peter Burge Foundation’ kindly donate the Association $121,000 annually to update and maintain their facilities

Campaign Success

There is nothing more important to fundraising than educating your donors and supporters about how their money is being used. The ASF works with organisations to ensure best practices are being used when cultivating these relationships. In short, the following points will help you while brainstorming for your project.

  • Clear need
    • All of the previously mentioned projects have a clear need that impacts the organisation. It is this clear messaging that makes it easy for donors to donate
  • Know your target
    • All projects listed above knew who would respond best to their campaign. They then used an existing contact with the donor to create a seamless means of reaching them at an ideal time
  • Deliberate ask
    • You need to run the numbers and break down what you need for success. This will ensure you ask for an amount that will meet your fundraising needs. The donors want to help. So make sure you tell them exactly what they need to give for you to reach your goal
  • Thank You
    • No matter how little the ask is, make sure to thank those that give. Statistics show that people are 50% more likely to donate again because they received thanks

The Sydney Swans launched the Swans Foundation in 2005 to help support the growth and development of Aussie Rules in the greater Sydney area and to support the club. Over the last 10 years, the club’s partnership with us has enabled the club to attract donors and to assure them that the money given will support the community and the athletes, and will not be used for operations. Without our partnership, the Swans are confident they would not have been able to raise the millions of dollars over the years that they have.

Successful Project: Locker-room Redevelopment

About two years ago, the club wanted to revamp their locker-room so they were more player friendly. In order to achieve this goal, they hosted an event which auctioned off old lockers, sought support for the purchase of new lockers, and featured the current players on the team. This event was so successful it raised around $800,000 and enabled the club to update the locker-room and make everyone who donated feel like they are part of the vital project for the club.

Keys to success:

  • Simple asks
    • The club had worked out what they needed to raise from the event and how they were going to reach this goal. Thus, they worked backwards and made asks at different levels based on what they needed to raise. This clear and clean ask made it easy for their donors to say “yes” and for the Club to reach their funding goals.
  • White Glove treatment
    • The Foundation takes care of all of their donors and ensures they are looked after. Donors are invited to events, emailed, and kept updated about all the behind the scene activities. It is this attention to detail that helps donors return year after year.
  • Pledges
    • The Foundation started an initiative that asks members to commit to a five year pledge. By doing so, this enables the donor and the club to embark on a long term relationship not based around simply asking for money. Rather, both have clear expectations and they can focus on enjoying the relationship.
  • Thank You
    • Any chance the club has to thank the donors, they take it. There is no event too small for a quick acknowledgement of the Foundation and its donors. It is this effort that keeps the Foundation relevant and offers public acknowledgement for the donors.

Growing the Foundation:

While the Club has been successful with its current effort, they do want to make the Foundation a more mainstream vehicle for fans to be a part of. They are currently using their social media page, eMarketing, and their new website as tools to educate the stakeholders about what the Foundation does and how they can support the Club via it.

Advice to other Organisations:

Master your message and story. The Swans biggest problem has been finding ways to effectively communicate the Foundation’s mission to the greater masses. Every organisation must ensure sure they know what they want the donors to give, and what they want the donors to give for. Otherwise, your message and cause will be lost in the chaos.

Townsville Fire’s Darker Days

Four years ago, the Townsville Fire Basketball Club owners had turned in their licenses and were closing their doors. Funding had run out and the financial backers were not interested in risking more money. Community members came together and decided the community may not need another basketball team, however, there was a desperate need for positive female role models. Thus, the team was re-launched, focusing on creating positive female role models. Their initial efforts were successful, however, two years into the re-launch two major corporate sponsors pulled out and the Club was once again on the verge of closing their doors. It was at this time the club realised the need to diversify their revenue streams and find a way to minimise the risk of a one-channel revenue source. Their answer was us.

Brighter Days with the Australian Sports Foundation

Upon deciding to partner with us, Fire’s Board sat down and developed a plan to execute this venture. They aimed to gain the community support to further their Foundation’s mission, which was to:

  1. provide positive female role models
  2. encourage the Townsville youth to take a more proactive approach to achieve their goals

Once this objective was developed, the Club approached club supporters and community leaders to request a three-year commitment to the Foundation. This effort was successful in covering the lost funds finding new corporate partners. In a short time, the Club realised this Foundation was having a greater impact on the Club than they expected.

The Power of Community Support:

Soon after launching the Foundation, the Club found that the community response was overwhelming. The community was extremely grateful for the work that was being done and continued to increase their support of not only the Foundation but also the team. As the team deepened their intrinsic relationship with the community, through the Foundation’s work; the corporate and financial support appeared at the Club level.

The Club not only successfully replaced the prior sponsors but they also increased ticket sales by 25%, membership by 75%, and merchandise sales by 150%. Thus, by partnering with us, not only did the Club de-risking their business but it also created a more meaningful relationship with the community which in turn increased the overall sales of the Club.

Managing and Growing the Foundation:

As a result of the Foundation’s success, the Club has retained a full time community manager to oversee the local request and projects under taken by the Club’s Foundation. Over the course of a year, the Club and its service providers facilitated over 80 local events and/or appearances. These included partner banks teaching girls how to set up an account, the Club’s nutritionist taking girls shopping and teaching them how to cook healthy meals on a budget, and finally, the players make endless appearances on leadership, goal setting, and the importance of making positive decisions.

While these efforts are doing well, the Club only feels like they have scratched the surface. We are currently working with the Club to achieve a high performance plan and other projects that can help the club build on their current Foundation.

Advice to other Organisations:

Have a Plan: It is so important to know the objective of your fundraising efforts and how you are going to achieve these efforts. You must have this plan in place before you go to market or you are behind the eight ball before you even get off the ground.

Sports community partners

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  • Clearinghouse for Sport
  • SportsTG
  • Good 2 give
  • AIS
  • Australian Sports Commission
  • Play by the Rules
  • Spartan Sports

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