Getting support from your basketball program’s booster club can be a complex dance, so it's wise to learn the steps before taking to the floor. Though you may be confident the club will grant you the money you need, you also know how difficult it can be to raise money year after year. Even the wealthiest college programs don’t always get everything they want.
The land is littered with big-time coaches who privately complain that they can’t get a $10 million practice gym built.
Prioritize. If it’s good enough for big-time coaches, it should be good enough for you. Prioritize your needs before approaching your booster club. Go over your program with a fine-toothed comb and see which basketball training equipment is outdated, what improvements are needed, and what is required to push your program to the next level of competitiveness. Be systematic and use dates. For example, your basketball shooting machine’s warranty may be expiring in November of next year and that might be a good time to get a new one. Put your inventory in an Excel spreadsheet and keep it next to your playbook.
You are now organized and ready to provide hard data for your funding needs.
When you approach your booster club, keep these four tips in mind so you have the best chance of getting the full amount you need to push your program forward.
Know Your Booster Club’s History
Just as you wouldn’t play an opponent without scouting them, you shouldn’t make a beeline to your booster club without having extensive knowledge about how it’s worked in the past, what are the current issues at hand, and what they hope to accomplish in the future.
At the very least, you should have knowledge of who makes the final decisions, the average funding amount, a list of previously funded projects and what’s been repeatedly denied. Knowing these things paints a picture of the club’s priorities – which may not always be the same as yours.
Have a Fallback Position
You know what’s nice? Always getting the call from the ref. But, that’s something you should never count on. That’s why you have a second team. Take the same stance with your booster club.
While you hear, ‘no,’ what they may be saying is, ‘We’d love to give it to you, but our best fundraiser had a terrible year, so we have to cut back.’
A fallback offers a compromise for both of you. If you can scale back the dollar amount, that ‘no’ may turn into a ‘yes.’ Two basketball shooting machines may turn into one. But, don’t rely on a spur-of-the-moment compromise. Have your fallback in place when you’re meeting with the boosters. And, your fallback should be in an area you see as vital. If it’s not, then accept the ‘no.’
Provide Data & Reasoning
One of the most frustrating things is hearing "I need this money" without any reasoning behind the statement. If you have specific equipment in mind that you'd like funds for, provide specific reasoning on why you need the equipment and what it will be used for.
For example, if you're looking for funds for a basketball shooting machine, explain the drastic improvement that your team can reach if they had the training equipment and back it up with data. Players will be able to get in up to 1,500 shots with a shooting machine whereas they were previously getting up around 300 shots (5 times more!).
With data like this to back up your request for money, you'll have a much better chance of getting buy-in from your booster club.
Make it an Interactive Relationship
Being asked for money, even for causes you truly believe in, can get tiresome. Ask any parent. Within the rules governing your league, it is respectful to ask boosters about their vision for the program. Engage them by phone, email, text, and in person. Learn their histories and be creative in showing your appreciation. Acknowledge their invaluable help often and then ask if the acknowledgement was enough.
Use these tips and you’ll look well-prepared in your booster’s eyes – and that may be what you need to get your request granted.
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