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A Winning Game

The tightly knit community of Delta Junction, Alaska is supporting its local high school booster club by sponsoring spaces on a customized board game that will feature town landmarks and businesses. The prices for sponsorships range from $250 to $400, and cover the cost of producing the game, which will be sold at a profit by the club. 

With a costly upgrade for the high school's multi-sport field approaching, the Delta High School Booster Club (Delta Junction, Alaska) wanted to raise money without overtaxing its members. For the past couple of years, the club had talked about working with a Michigan-based company that produces customized board games, but had never worked up the motivation to pursue the idea. With the need to fund the field's upgrades, the club decided to go ahead and take the plunge. 

"My sister-in-law gave me information about the company quite a while ago," says booster club member Pam Krepel. "The club talked about it every year, but we never felt like we had the energy to get out there and sell ads. With this big project coming up, we decided to give it a try."

How it works is, after contacting the company, groups are given options and information to read through. Then they decide what to offer on their custom version of "Town-opoly," which is based on the classic board game. Next, the group sells 40 ad spaces to local businesses and organizations that are then featured on the board.

After the ads are sold, the group returns the sponsor information to the company, and once everything is set, the club receives its order of games to sell. The last step is if the group is happy with the outcome and refers another organization to the company, they will get a referral bonus. 

"The hardest part is going through all of the material and making the decisions," says Krepel. "Somebody has to read through it, and then make a list of the club's options. It takes at least one club meeting to make those decisions and to divvy up selling the ads.

"After the club made its decisions, I compiled a book that had a sample layout of the board, how much it costs to sponsor a square, and all of the forms we needed for selling ads," she continues. "Then I drove through town and sold ads for two days before handing it off to somebody else. When the next person has sold some, she'll pass it on to another member. This way, one person isn't doing all of the work, but it also ensures that we don't double-sell a square."

Although all of the spaces around the board will be sold before the start of the school year, the club will continue its work for a few weeks after that. "People can get a patron spot to have their names in the middle of the board for $50," Krepel says. "We're going to sell sponsorships into the school year with those. The ad sales mostly cover the cost of the boards, so the profit comes in with patron ads and then selling the games when they arrive."  

Once that is complete, the club will send the information to the company for the design. "The company will be sent a hard copy through the mail," Krepel says. "Our contact asked for a separate page for each property. Plus, there's a board layout that we will send in, and we'll sketch out how we want the finished product to look. We can use business cards and letterhead for that part, too. Then the company will create a proof and send it to us to check over, before fulfilling our order.

"There's a schedule for how long it will take," she continues. "We'll need to send our materials in October, so we can get the final product by December. We've already sold a couple of cases at a wholesale cost to some local merchants, and we have people eager to purchase games from us at football games and our annual Christmas Bazaar."

The games will come shrink-wrapped, and will feature pictures taken by an up-and-coming photographer. "We made a deal with a recent graduate of the high school," Krepel says. "He agreed to let us put his pictures on the cover, the top of the box, and the board itself, in exchange for giving him some advertising by having the URL to his Web site printed with the pictures. They'll show the local flavor, and feature some of the sights, such as the Northern Lights, mountain range, and local landmarks."

For wholesale orders from local merchants, the club is selling games for $15 each. For the booster club sales, the games will go for $25--which is the same amount that local merchants will charge. With 500 games ordered, the club is hoping to have a top-seller with the community. "I think the game will be pretty easy to sell, since we're a small community and it's a way for the town to be commemorated," Krepel says. "Everyone has wanted to be a part of the board, and I think they'll want to buy one for their family. We also have a lot of tourists coming through, because we're at the end of the Alaska Highway, and it might be something that's kind of neat for them to get from local merchants, too."
 
With the hardest part of the process over, there's only one thing Krepel would change. "We would have charged more for those last two really expensive pieces of property, because everybody wanted those," she says. "The company suggests auctioning those off, and that would be a good idea if your club is up to the task. But even if you just do a simple ad sale to cover the cost of the board, you can raise a lot of money selling the games. If our club had known how easy it would be, we would have done this fundraiser a long time ago."



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