Set the Right Goals
Don't discourage your boosters with lofty goals.
By Kenny Berkowitz
Kenny Berkowitz is an Assistant Editor at MomentumMedia Sports Publishing.
Setting goals that are too lofty for your club can quickly discourage your boosters, and setting goals that aren't ambitious enough can easily cause your membership to lose interest. The key is to find the right balance. At Northampton (Mass.) High School, Head Baseball Coach Mark Baldwin purposely set modest goals that could be achieved with only a handful of volunteers.
"The ideal size of your booster club depends on the goals you're trying to accomplish," says Baldwin, who usually has a core of four or five hard-working boosters. "I chose to create a small group of people committed to work for some very specific things. Partly, that's because our needs weren't very large. And partly, it's because I wanted a smaller, more manageable group to fit our goals."
Baldwin began his booster club with a simple, specific agenda: He wanted to raise enough money to buy new jerseys. Over the next six years, his wish list has steadily grown, but his strategy for setting goals is still the same.
"If you want to keep your boosters focused, keep your expectations realistic and tangible," advises Baldwin. "The more specific your goals are, the easier it will be to find donors. When we were looking to start a freshman team, we told our potential donors, 'This is something the school can't afford on its own, and it creates a new opportunity for kids who wouldn't otherwise be able to participate.' That was a very persuasive message, because people could see that their money was going to a very specific cause: improving the experience of young athletes."
At Butler University, Head Coach Steve Farley jump-started his booster club with a wish list that balanced short- and long-term goals. "Along with our big-ticket items, we create some small, simple goals that will be easy to accomplish," says Farley. "We want to give people the instant gratification of seeing how they've helped. So we send them photos and put pictures on our Web site and plaques around the field. That spurs interest in some of the bigger projects that are still a year or two away."
In 14 years, Butler's boosters have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, which have resulted in a new irrigation system, a new pressbox, an upgraded concession stand, and a team trip to Australia. Farley still has dozens of items on his wish list, including a new indoor practice facility, and keeps adding to the list with input from athletes, alumni, and boosters.
"There are a lot of potential donors out there," says Farley, "and they'd love to help, if they only knew what you wanted."