On the Block
In a typical year, the West Branch (Iowa) High School All Sports Booster Club raises about $28,000 for equipment and facilities. In 2009-10, by adding a few new ideas to their time-tested favorites, boosters surpassed their old record by $5,000.
By Tony Luneckas
President, West Branch (Iowa) High School All Sports Booster Club
We've had a great core group of boosters over the last few years, which has really helped us get to the point we're at today. We're trying to raise more money than ever, so at the start of last year, we asked ourselves, "What new ideas can we think of?"
No idea was a bad idea, and absolutely anything was worth considering. We wanted to try something new, and that's what put us over the top. People in the community responded to the novelty, the excitement of attending a different kind of event than we'd hosted before.
In the winter, when we haven't had a major event in the past, we held a Mexican supper between one of our boys' and girls' basketball games. We had it catered very affordably, and a lot of people came.
In another new effort, we held a Schwan's fundraiser, where people could order food online using our code number, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the booster club. That pulled in more that $1,600 on its own.
In a third, we held an event called Athletes for Auction. It was a fun night where fans had a chance to bid on a couple of hours of our athletes' labor. Everybody who attended the basketball games that night could buy a number, just like at any other auction, and we held it at halftime, with a local auctioneer as the master of ceremonies.
To make athletes feel comfortable and keep everybody safe, we auctioned athletes in pairs. They'd come to your house, do some yard work, babysitting, or odd jobs. My daughter and her friend did some house-cleaning for one of the coaches, which they said they liked.
There were some good bidding wars too, which was part of the fun. To make sure nobody's feelings got hurt, we had boosters planted in the audience ahead of time, and there were bids for every athlete who came up for auction.
Really, it wasn't about the work--it was a way for people to get to know our athletes a little better and for our athletes to spend a little time helping the people who support our program. Ultimately, these three fundraisers were enough to put us over the top, and after laying the groundwork, we're planning to do them again this year--along with another set of new ideas.