Fundraising. One of the least exciting aspects of being on a dragon boat team, yet arguably one of the most important components of the club. Unless your team is sponsored by a large company or benefactor, you are constantly searching for ways to raise money in order to keep your boat afloat, so-to-speak.
Most clubs finance the majority of their organization with membership dues, but typically this does not fully cover the cost of all the team’s necessities such as boat maintenance or rental, dock rental, boat storage, insurance, race entry fees, travel, equipment, and many other items. It is a big challenge for teams to figure out how to raise enough money to keep the club running smoothly.
Dragon Boat coach and blogger, Paddlechica, kindly agreed to let us share her advice on club fundraising. Take a look below and give her page a follow if you find it helpful!
Before your team embarks on any fundraising projects, here are some essential questions:
What do you need fundraising money for?
Identify your specific need (boats, storage, a trailer, uniforms, entry fees, etc.) and prioritize them accordingly. If your boat is in a state of disrepair, it wouldn’t make sense to spend money on new race jerseys first.
How much money do you need to raise?
Once you have identified what you need the money for, do your research to determine the costs. This is not the time to be conservative. If a boat is going to cost you $9000, for example, don’t set that amount as your goal and neglect the other potential costs involved. Consider delivery, insurance, a trailer, and perhaps other items needed for the boat which might not be included such as a drum seat, drum, or steering oar.
How do you maximize the participation of your members in the fundraising?
Set your goals. Bring the challenge to your team and develop a plan to make it happen. These objectives often focus on the club’s participation at a specific race. For example, is your team hoping to go to an out-of-town race or even the Club Crew World Championships? The costs of travel and hotels add up quickly and teams frequently find themselves struggling to fill a boat when the fundraising does not sufficiently supplement the expenses. Be specific in what the team will be getting out of the fundraising. If enough money is raised, will the cost of the hotel be covered? Will the money be split evenly and everyone get reimbursed a set amount to spend as they choose? It often helps to have these types of incentives. Though careful bookkeeping is required, it can help motivate paddlers to meet the goals of the fundraising.
Deciding what type of fundraiser your team will hold is often a difficult decision. Here are some suggestions to give you ideas for your own club. They are broken down into several main categories: events, products, corporate-related products and services, and BCS-specific fundraisers.
Events as Fundraisers:
Depending on the event your team decides to host, events can be time consuming in the months leading up to the big day. Yet they are typically quite profitable, which makes the effort worthwhile. Some of the fundraising events I have taken part in or have heard about from paddling friends are the following:
Save Our Sisters (SOS), a BCS team in Miami, Florida, hosts a wonderful night called “Pink Rocks” that involves a light dinner, drinks and dancing, plus a silent auction of items donated by local businesses. Funds are raised from the auction as well as the ticket sales.
The Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club in Collingwood, Ontario commissions local artists to paint paddles with free reign on the design, then auctions off the paddles in a silent auction.
Philadelphia Flying Phoenix hosts a Trick or Trivia night close to Halloween where guests wearing carefully planned costumes enjoy dinner, a cash bar, a silent auction and raffle. The final event of the night is the Trick or Trivia game where table groups form teams to compete in the ultimate trivia game. Items donated for the auction include such things as a paddle board and paddle, get away vacation packages, home repair vouchers, jewelry, landscaping consultation, Phillies’ and Eagles’ tickets, home-baked cakes, paddles, Garmin watches, an Apple watch, personal training vouchers, Starbucks gift cards, clothing, artwork, Fitbit, dry bags, paddling books and many more. Proceeds from the event pay for expenses not covered by dues and provide a cushion for unexpected expenditures. It’s always a well-attended event, with headcounts well over 200.
Products as Fundraisers:
The USA Senior A Women’s National Team sold jerseys and stickers.
Dragonheart Vermont sells and hats as well as coffee by the pound from a local grower.
Custom dragon boat swag (shirts, hats, eyeglass straps, buffs, bags, jewelry, bumper stickers, tattoos, magnets, sport towels), team calendars, notecards, holiday-related items (wreaths, ornaments, flowers, baked goods), Yankee candles, gardener’s supplies (such as bulbs), windshield wiper tags, gift wrap. Selling things that are consumable is a good idea so that there is a repeated need for the item.
Best of luck with your club’s fundraising efforts. It is never easy, but when everyone helps out, the work can be quite rewarding to the team. And always remember to acknowledge the efforts of those teammates who work hard to make the fundraising a success.
What does your team do to raise money? Let us know in the comments!
A special thanks to Paddlechica for letting us share her content.
You can read the full article as well as more of her awesome work on her website.