Mary Kamps is a member of Friends of the Stadium, a subcommittee of the 501(c)3 Horseshoe Club, a non-profit athletic booster club serving the Barrington (Ill.) High School, located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The Friends of the Stadium are overseeing the $1.1 million fundraising campaign for the high school's Barrington Community Stadium and so far have raised half that amount in just five months. The group has been successful in part because of its well-organized fundraising proposal. Kamps offer several tips on how your booster club can create its own proposal.
1. Specialize tasks. "We owe a lot of our success to the fact that the group uses its custom skill sets to be cost-effective," says Kamps. "We don't have to hire people to help develop proposals, because we can rely on ourselves to work together to create them."
The five members of the subcommittee are all part of the business world, says Kamps. Two are bankers, so their focus is on budgeting and sponsorship. Another volunteer works in communications, which helped with the referendum. Kamps' specialty is strategic marketing, which assisted the group well during its three-phase fundraising campaign, and the group has a technology volunteer, allowing the group to update the Barrington community instantaneously with news and progress reports on the Horseshoe Club's Web site, www.horseshoeclub.org.
2. Keep everyone informed. "With as broad a community as this school district is (72-square-miles), we have to do what we can to inform them," Kamps says. The subcommittee generates a monthly electronic newsletter to keep the Barrington community abreast on the stadium project. It is sent first by e-mail and then posted on the Horseshoe Club's Web site. The group networks with other Barrington organizations, sending e-mails to PTO members, coaches, and booster club representatives of Barrington's sport teams.
3. Be transparent. "We were transparent from the get-go," says Kamps. "We showed everything to the school board's facility committee, which is responsible for the actual renovation project, and this showed the school board and some skeptics that we could be trusted with meeting deadlines and adhering to the board's rules."
4. Simple communication. The 16-page fundraising proposal, which is also on the Horseshoe Club's Web site, was created using simple content. Everything from the outline to the physical layout of the proposal was made for easy reading. "Simple text, bullet points, and pictures help get the message across well," Kamps says.
5. Be patient. Surprisingly, the most difficult part of laying out the proposal content was getting material from the school district. "We had the outline ready, but had to wait for the official numbers to be released by the facility committee," says Kamps. "This wasn't easy because we were rushed to meet deadlines."