How to Budget a Tournament
Have you ever thought about hosting a tournament, but weren't sure if it was a good idea? David Hoch, Athletic Director at Loch Raven High School in Baltimore County, Md., outlines a winning strategy for turning your tournament into an effective fundraiser.
By Dr. David Hoch
Without a doubt, planning a tournament takes some work, but it's well worth it. With entry fees, concession sales, and sponsors, a tournament can make a significant financial contribution to your program year after year.
To start, create a budget. You can't count on making money, or even breaking even, without a realistic balance of expenses and revenue. Begin by calculating the cost of officials, trophies, custodians, security personnel, and any other necessary expenditures in your setting. With costs known, think about revenue from entry fees, gate receipts, and concessions. Before you take another step, make sure revenue outweighs expenses.
Next, think about finding other sources of income. Beyond entry fees and ticket sales, here are some ideas on making money:
- Find sponsors. If sponsors pay for the officials, custodial coverage, and awards, revenue from the gate and concessions will be pure profit. In talking with potential sponsors, establish what they expect in return for their investment. They may want to display signage for their company, along with having their identity incorporated into the name of the tournament--but these issues cannot be assumed. They need to be discussed and clearly stated, preferably in writing, to avoid any misunderstanding.
- Solicit advertising. Securing advertisements in your tournament program will increase your profits significantly, and many local businesses will be happy to be involved. Prices can vary greatly depending on your community, but here at Loch Raven High School, we charge $125 for a full-page ad, $75 for a half, $50 for a quarter-page, and $25 for business card-size ads. Even though you might make a few bucks by selling programs, offering them for free is a better option. With the money you've made selling ads, the program should more than pay for itself, and to keep those advertisers happy, you want as many fans, athletes, and coaches to see the program as possible.
- Create mementos. Parents and fans love to have commemorative items from tournaments they've attended, and T-shirts fit the bill perfectly. To increase revenue, find one sponsor to print the T-shirts and enlist others to include their logos on the back, with a free shirt provided to each participating athlete. Whether sponsors' names are placed on a tournament T-shirt, these keepsakes become "walking advertisements" for years to come.
- Sell concessions. Even if you don't normally have concessions for regular season games, food is needed for a tournament, where it will provide an important service to fans while also adding to your bottom line. Offering the right items--in the right amounts--is the key to success. Staples like bottled water, sports drinks, and packaged snacks can be ordered in quantity, with any remaining inventory used at future games. But when ordering perishables like fruit, bagels, and sandwiches, take care not to stock more food than you can sell in a day. For added revenue, you can even provide a chicken barbecue or homemade sweets not normally found at school sporting events.
Better Every Year
As with any project, it's important to make notes at the conclusion of your event. Write all those thoughts down before you forget them!
With a great organization in place and some special touches to make it unique, your tournament can quickly gain a following. And with a budget that turns a profit, you'll have a fundraising source for years to come.
David Hoch, EdD, is the Athletic Director at Loch Raven High School in Baltimore County, Md. He is a past President of the Maryland State Athletic Directors' Association and a former basketball coach. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.