6 Tips for financing and fundraising for sports facilities
Sports facility construction projects tend to be expensive ventures and more often than not require financing from third parties to be able to successfully complete the project.
Funding and fundraising is a topic that is on the mind of the whole project team in the early stages of the project because you will need to be able to demonstrate that the project is feasible and not just a pie in the sky.
Luckily, there are many sources of funding that can be leveraged. In this article we list the top funding and fundraising sources for sports facility construction projects.
We recommend you to try one of our sports facility cost calculators to get a clear understanding of the total costs of your project before you start applying for funding.
You can also check out our sports facility grants and funding database if you want to browse through some more opportunities!
Tip #1 – Leverage private funding opportunities
If the money for the construction of the floodlighting system or the artificial turf pitch cannot be raised in advance, it is possible to apply for sports facility financing.
Banks and credit unions obviously offer this option. But manufacturers and suppliers in the sports field construction industry sometimes have financing offers. They enable you to pay off the purchase and installations in monthly, quarterly or annual installments. Ask about such options as part of the bid solicitation process, as well as for their recommendations for appropriate financing providers.
Tip #2 – Financing through public-private partnership
Because of the large amount of sports space needed and the variety of sports fields used every day, it may make sense for public and private entities to partner for a sports facility. For example, perhaps a public school has large acreage but few financial resources, while a private university may have the opposite situation. In this case, the goal can be achieved for both together. Such projects are also possible with companies that are looking for corporate wellness opportunities.
Tip #3 – Setting up a fundraising campaign for a sports facility project
A fundraising campaign for the new construction, renovation or equipping of the sports facility requires time and the cooperation of many committed people. A committee should be formed for this purpose, comprised of people who are passionate about the project and have the necessary expertise. For example, someone with a close connection to sports or sports management, a lawyer, a financial expert and a person from the field of marketing/communications.
In addition, it is important that parents of the students or club members also participate. They ultimately benefit the most from the facility. They should support the cause enthusiastically. Representatives from local politics can also be involved as partners and supporters.
Within the committee, the tasks should be clearly defined. Get the strengths of the members before assigning responsibilities.
Often, such committees start with a lot of enthusiasm, but after a few weeks or months, the number of those who are still actively involved dwindles. To prevent this, regular meetings should be held to provide updates about recent progress and what needs to be done next The committee should also take an active role in developing the relationships that result in new donors and sponsors, building networks as well as community goodwill.
Get help from professional fundraisers
A fundraising campaign, especially when it involves high-priced projects such as the construction of an artificial turf pitch or the purchase of a floodlighting system, requires a dedicated team, good contacts, staying power and professionalism. Professional fundraising consultants may be a worthwhile option. You can search for providers, for example, at The Giving Institute (link: https://www.givinginstitute.org/) and at the Association of Professional Fundraisers ( https://afpglobal.org/).
In any case, before you sign a contract, check the consultant’s references. Other schools or associations may have tips and recommendations in this regard. Also, have an attorney review the contract and define exactly what portion of the revenue will go to the fundraising campaign – fundraising is the full-time job for these consultants. They don’t work for free.
Keep in mind that even in the case of professional fundraising, your ongoing support is required. You yourself know the local area best, can name important background information about the facility infrastructure and define the facility’s target markets, key stakeholders and potential supporters.
Tip #4 – Selling sports facility sponsorships
Another option for raising revenue is selling sponsorships, such as the naming rights for the sports ground. You can sell these for a fixed period of time to generate one-time or regular income. In addition to the name of the facility, it is also possible to sell sponsorship packages that include perimeter advertising. An attractive option for individual donors who contribute a larger sum would be a plaque with their name and an acknowledgement at the entrance to the sports field or in the stands.
Tip #5 – Subletting the sports facility
If the number of hours the sports facility is used increases due to an artificial turf field or the installation of a floodlighting system, it could be rented out to other clubs, company teams or any other group willing to pay the rental fee you set. This revenue will go towards paying down the costs of construction.
Tip #6 – Collecting donations
It’s not just professional sports that excite the masses. Most sports fields are built for mass sports: small clubs, schools and universities. When it comes to securing sports facility funding through donations, they should not only define the exact goals before launching the campaign, but also be able to clearly communicate why many people will benefit.
For example, an artificial turf can be used for many more hours compared to natural grass, which significantly increases the number of potential users. The same goes for building an LED floodlighting system: it extends the operating hours well into the evening, especially during the darker months of the year.
A good first point of contact at schools and universities are booster clubs that have experience raising funds.
It is especially important to find influential or prominent people as supporters. If they speak out publicly in support of their campaign and possibly donate a larger amount, other supporters will follow. Look for people who attended the club or school in their youth and are economically successful today. Try to convince these alumni to donate to the project. Well-known personalities who may not necessarily donate much but give their name to the project are also a useful help.
Parents, students, and club members can also be good contributors. For example, they can organize a concert or a party, a bake sale or an auction, with the proceeds going towards the project. These don’t always raise large sums, but they keep the fundraising campaign in the conversation and offer ways for people to buy-in. You could also set up a support association – upto the level of a registered non-profit – for the project, which would create ongoing opportunities to donate.
Don’t forget public relations
Take advantage of the opportunity to inform others about the status of the campaign. A dedicated website, newsletter and social media presence are highly recommended. There you can call for donations, provide information about the campaign’s background and progress, and celebrate the achievement of milestones.
But also be present in the real world. An information stand at the mall, sports field or school gives people the opportunity to talk to them and join the campaign.
Press relations should not be neglected either. Invite journalists to your site and explain the need for the new sports facility or why your field should be renovated or equipped with additional sports facility infrastructure. This will help you reach a wider audience. Influencers, whether young people from their community or well-known athletes, should also be involved.
Donations in kind for the new sports field or gymnasium
There may be craftsmen, construction companies or material suppliers in the community who would like to support the work with donations in kind or through unpaid labor. Keep in mind, however, that when building an artificial turf field, for example, schedules must be adhered to. Coordinating the individual construction steps and service providers is an ongoing challenge.