Many people think that the best and easiest way to raise funds is to seek sponsors. Well folks, the days of free money are long gone, for companies do not have endless amounts of cash as many in business are riding a tight line between profit and loss.
If you decide to attract sponsors as a source of fund raising, remember one very important phrase…. Give to Get! Which means, sponsors are not in the business to give money away… they want a return for their investment. So, what are you prepared to GIVE a sponsor and what would you like to GET in return. A nice sponsors letter is a must, noting the value of the sponsorship in dollars and cents, which also explains what the Little Rock section is offering in return for their financial contribution. Depending on the business, name recognition is important. The section might offer signage on the wall of the club or an advertisement in the club directory. If your section needs to purchase rocks, maybe sponsors names engraved in the handles of each rock they purchase would serve the purpose. Printing the business name on schedules and notices is an attractive benefit. Once you enter into an arrangement with a sponsor, you are accountable to them, which is not a bad thing. The sponsor would like a report as where their money is going. Hence, the season end letter of appreciation.
Back at the Brant Curling Club in Brantford, the club was very fortunate to have Tim Horton’s franchises in the area, which were very supportive of curling and especially Little Rocks. The Little Rock section was branded the Tim Horton’s Little Rocks. That meant all information was titled Tim Horton’s Little Rocks. Not only did we have an ad in the club directory noting Tim Horton’s, we had a large banner over top one of the ice sheets on the back wall highlighting Tim Horton’s Little Rockers. For this notoriety, the fine folks at Tim Horton’s supplied all the curlers with turtlenecks and fleece vests for a curling uniform. Each year the colour of the vest would change, so the kids did not end up with a closet of the same coloured clothing. So now you’re asking, “why do the kids need uniforms for a recreational curling program?” Well I tell you, it sure was a sight to have all the curlers on the ice looking uniform. And to see the pride that each of the kids had when they dressed in their curling gear. We made sure that Tim Horton’s heard from us at least twice over the year. First note was to request sponsorship, outlining our season plans and how they fit in to that plan. The last note was to thank them for their generousity and to advise how successful the season was. Sometimes we would even send a note with a photo part way through the season, just to stay in touch and let them know their contributions were being utilized in a responsive fashion.
Another way to attract dollars to your program is to host a provincial championship event. Now before you start thinking that I have lost my sense of how much work is involved with hosting a provincial event, hear me out first. Yes, hosting a championship takes a good deal of work and preparation. A good organization is the key, and you have heard me speak of organization before. The championship you host need not be the premier event, but a secondary event would serve the purpose just fine. Within the Ontario Curling Association, 21 host sites are required each year to host single or twinned championships. I realize that not all provinces have that many championships, but to host a provincial junior or senior event, would require fewer resources than a men’s or women’s.
Again, back at the Brant Curling Club, the Ontario Curling Association approached us to host the inaugural Bantam Boy’s and Girl’s Provincial Championship. We jumped at the chance and with just over 12 months to prepare. Without going into the details, a core committee of 8 was recruited (no one said no) which coordinated a total group of 25 volunteers. Within weeks, a budget was struck and plans set into motion. Our goal was to generate a profit of $5,000. Through the sale of such items such as program ads, t-shirts and hats, sponsored luncheons, 50 / 50 raffles and TV raffle sales; we achieved our financial goal and then some. A couple side benefits of hosting was, we attracted new corporate support to the club not previously sought and the effort of working on a project that brought significant profile to the club, united the membership which had been lacking for sometime.
Now, with that $5,000 profit, what did we do with it? It was shared between the Little Rocks and junior sections. Equipment purchases were made for Little Rocks like small brushes. For the juniors, a couple sets of team jackets were made available for teams going to zone and regional playdowns. More significant, a small legacy fund was created to support teams travel advancing to regionals and assisting young curlers wishing to attend a summer curling camp. While not big money, these funds lasted for several years in supporting young curlers to advance their development.