Traditional revenue solutions such as sales (memberships, canteen/bar, merchandise), sponsorship (club, player, signage) & fundraising (functions, raffles, Bunnings BBQ) continue to play a vital part of any local footy club. The clubs that can also tap into grants, donations & on-line revenue solutions will be the clubs that are best set up for sustainable success.
A staple of every club is fundraising. Each club is different (number of teams / members, demographics of the area, number of volunteers etc.) The guidance provided here is designed to either reinforce what clubs are already doing or provide some new ideas.
Tax deduction status allows for an attractive way for clubs to receive donations from members, supporters and local community groups to put towards worthwhile projects. Many local footy clubs have signed up to receive donations through this program and it may suit your local club.
The ASF has a fantastic website (https://asf.org.au/) with detailed information, explanatory videos and case studies to see if this can suit your club. The site covers the difference of tax deductibility, benefits of fundraising with the ASF and how you can sign up – along with contact information to get in touch with them for more information.
Events are a staple of any footy season. They provide the opportunity for the club to raise much needed funds and also the opportunity to create lasting memories for attendees. It is important however that the lasting memories are for all the right reasons. A positive & inclusive event will further the reputation of the club to see attendances grow future events. Clubs however who have held events not in keeping with reasonable community expectations have suffered the consequences – leading, in extreme cases, to clubs losing team numbers or even going in to recess as a result of an event.
Successful clubs have in place the following:
- A clear plan – answering what & why (& why it will help the club attract ‘new’ people to attend). The plan should include the budget, who does what and by when and be reviewed regularly. Check out this template to assist.
- A Social Events Coordinator to help focus adequate time to planning & execution. See a sample PD as a template to consider.
- A marketing & communications plan. This is critical to maximise the hard work of those running the event. Think about how your players / audience engage and can share event details within their network – e.g. Instagram, facebook, tictok etc.
- An evaluation process (including encouraging honest feedback for all attendees). This step should also assess whether the net profit realised was actually worth the effort. If many people were required to give significant hours to generate a small profit, would the club be better served by spending this time focusing on other revenue generating options? – e.g. gathering donations through ASC, getting behind the Toyota Good for Footy Raffle, launching a Past Players group or applying for available grants.
Clubs will have various Membership categories to suit the nature of their club. Each membership group will bring their own unique attributes to the club and will receive unique benefits – at varying costs. This will including current playing membership categories as well as social memberships – where people can pay a nominal fee to gain benefits such as free access to social events, matches, functions and other benefits (e.g. merchandise item). Having multiple category options allows people to join how best suits them.
An often-overlooked opportunity is to tap into past players through fostering a Past Players group. Past players are far more likely than other members of the community to want to stay connected through the club and support through attending events – even providing donations.
It is critical to constantly check-in to make sure that Members are receiving what they expected to receive (& ideally a little bit more). Good news travels fast, however bad news travels faster!
Consider appointing a Memberships Coordinator.
All clubs will have merchandise available for sale, however some clubs restrict sales to people attending home matches only – and some still only accept cash as payment. With a growing list of people who are prepared to buy items online, clubs must seek to capitalise on this. An on-line shop with on-line payments, increases sales, saves time from volunteers ‘selling’ at match day & minimises cash-handling - which brings a range of benefits.
Ask widely through the club (players, parents, supporters, past players) what items people would like to see in club colours … shop around to find a suitable solution then stock them, promote them & sell them!
Consider appointing a Merchandise Coordinator.
Watch here: Long-serving local footy club Treasurer, Tony Boyce, on why the Toyota Raffle is such a great solution for local footy clubs.
It goes without saying that raffles can generate important revenue for the club. Clubs need to assess whether the net profit (total income received less expenses to cover raffle prizes, permits etc.) is worth the effort for the volunteers overseeing the raffle. The answer may always be yes, however should be considered as an important factor for each raffle.
For any raffles that the club runs, you need to be conscience of whether any permit may be required. This will typically depend on which State / Territory you are conducting the raffle in and the total value of the prizes. The club will also need to draw up a Terms and Conditions document that is available for people who buy a ticket can easily view. Check out the links below to help provide you with guidance based on your state.
Thankfully the Toyota Good for Footy Raffle takes the hassle out of any permit process and the development of Terms and Conditions as this has already been done for you. Clubs do not need to spend any time or money chasing up prizes and retain 100% of the proceeds from all sales – therefore maximizing profits for the club. The AFL strongly encourages clubs to get on board with the annual raffle that typically opens in May and runs through to September allowing ample time to generate significant funds for the club.
Check out this link for more information about the Toyota Good for Footy Raffle. Links for State / Territory specific guidance on raffle permits:
Watch a recently recorded 45 minute webinar on Grants. A simple and free one time only registration is required to watch all webinars within the AFL ClubHelp Webinar Series - click here.
Successful grants provide the club with an opportunity to bring in funds to complement funding through events, functions, raffles etc. Pending the level of the grants available (& time that volunteers can provide to fundraising efforts), it might be more advantageous to focus a greater portion of volunteer time to acquiring grants compared to other revenue generating ideas.
Grants often open without any warning and can sometimes have very short deadlines.
Creating a “wish-list” of different valued projects that would apply to a variety of grant programs will help you apply for grants as they pop up rather than scrambling for ideas.
Start a document tracking all the potential projects and answer the below questions to help build your application when the right grant pops up.
- Who are you?
- What do you want to do?
- Why do you want to do it?
- What do you expect to achieve?
- How much will it cost?
- How much do you want from whom?
- How much (and what) will you contribute yourself?
- How long will it take and when will you need to start?
Winning grants will take time to pull together – do not underestimate this!
This person will be responsible for finding, applying for, and acquitting grants. Ideally, they will have the following skills:
- Proficient with MS Office Word and Excel
- Ability to meet deadlines
- Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
- Knowledge of the club history and future goals
- Organised and the ability to work autonomously
See a sample Position Description for this role as a template to consider.
It is important to find out where your local council advertises grants. This may be via the website &/or promoted through their social media / eDMs, local media etc. Sign up or subscribe to not miss out on any opportunities.
Click on the below links to access grants through your State or Territory Government, or some other relevant sport specific organisations.
AFL State / Territory body
Your local league and/or state AFL body may also have regular communications and/or webpages with information about available grants. Ask your league for any guidance that they can provide and check out your AFL State / Territory website to see if they are promoting any current grants for facilities or more.
You may like to consider regular reviewing websites &/or subscribing to organisations that regularly promote grant opportunities. Some suggestions to consider include:
Whilst each grant will be unique in what you need to provide and the depth of the information required, the following checklist is a handy guide to work through when completing the grant application
Grants programs are getting more and more competitive with grant application often exceeding the amount available.
Before you start writing your grant application, it’s important to understand why grants are unsuccessful (so you can avoid making the same mistakes!).
Some of the most common reasons grants are not successful include:
- The project didn’t satisfy the purpose of the grant
- The application didn’t include all the necessary information
- The application lacked proof of support from key stakeholders
- The project wasn’t viable/wasn’t enough financial support
Generally, the first thing a grant provider will do is review each grant to determine if all the information is complete and that the applicant is eligible to apply. Grant providers will not call you if the grant application is incomplete, missing information or is incorrect. Your application will be rejected.
Make sure your project is eligible and your application is complete before submission, so you don’t waste your time applying for a grant that never had a chance.
Writing a winning application takes time so make sure you have allowed enough time to collect all the information, write the application and complete the submission process.
Most grant programs are now online however it’s recommended you start by writing your application in a word document. This will allow you to come back to it, spell check the application and then share with others before submitting it.
Tips for the writing process include:
- The purpose of the grant is clearly addressed in your answers
- All criteria are clearly addressed
- There are clear details about how the project will be achieved and how progress will be measured
- Ensure your application is within the word count
- Don’t ramble! Remember there are often large numbers of applications and accessors want clear and concise information. It is ok to use quality dot points
- Back up your application with supporting material! Use the Bureau of Statistics, league and club information to solidify any claims
- Remember to list the positive impact your project will have – not only on your club but the wider community
Once you have written the application, circulate it to the club committee for it to be reviewed and proofed. This will ensure:
- Every answer addresses the question in full, is complete and is accurate
- Spelling and grammar are correct
- Your application includes all supporting information and is accurate and complete
The final step is to submit the application. While most grants are online, some still require hard copies of certain documents. Please allow time for this.
Once you have submitted the grant, call the provider to ensure they have received the application.
If your application was unsuccessful, call the grant provider for feedback on your application. This will help you build a better application moving forward.
If your grant is successful, remember to collect and file any information that may be needed to acquit the grant. Depending on the size of the grant, your local or state AFL staff member may be able to assist with some advice regarding the acquittal process.
Make sure you keep all the grant information together for the next grant application. The next grant application should be a lot faster if you have all supporting information in one place which is accurate and complete.
Sponsors are a vital component of every footy club. It is vital to remember that we have moved a long way past sponsors being happy to hand over large sums of money to a club and expecting little in return. Sustainable sponsorships meet the objectives of the sponsor as well as the objectives of the club. Constant communication and ‘servicing’ the sponsorship are vital. Read on for some valuable tips.
Watch the 4-minute “Finding Sponsors” introductory video then read on.
Given the importance of the role, it is strongly recommended to have a Sponsorship Coordinator appointed to take pressure off the balance of the Club Exec / Committee.
See a sample Position Description for this role as a template to consider.
- Club Assets
Be clear on what assets the club has available to ‘sell’ to a sponsor. This can be many & varied – including on-field & off-field apparel, at ground signage (on-field, boundary, scoreboard), player sponsorships, event sponsorships, promotion / speaking at a club function, using a local business as a supplier, promotion of the business on club websites, social media etc. Brainstorm what is possible and be creative.
Having a database of the items available for sale, who that partner is, the value of this and when it is due for renewal are important to track the existing sponsors to look after and to be aware of opportunities when talking to prospective sponsors.
Sponsorship Database Template
- Know your reach
A sponsor will want to see a return on their investment and will therefore want to know some facts / figures (or at worst some estimates) about the number of people attending matches, function, reading social media posts, accessing the newsletter, watching livestreams etc. The more that you can tell a sponsor about your audience (players, members, supporters) & how well that your audience supports sponsors, the better you will be placed to secure sustainable sponsorships.
- Know your value
This is a difficult one and often will be based on what the club achieved in the past. With new ideas, it is often better to work on what you have available for a sponsor, look at opportunities to engage prospective sponsors and assess what they consider the value to be. If both parties are happy to proceed, that is a good outcome to find the right value.
- Sponsorship proposal
Whilst you should tailor your solutions to suit the sponsor, having a professional proposal will showcase your club in the best light. The Sponsorship Proposal should include the background of your club, club values and expectations and provide a snapshot of your club including the demographics, audience and club successes. The club’s Strategic Plan should provide most of this information.
Once you have promoted the club, you need to list the benefits of the partnership to the sponsor. Include what assets the sponsor will receive and how success will be measured. The document should also include the length of the term, the value of the sponsorship and the best contact for more details.
Sponsorship Proposal Template
Be active, engage your network for ideas for sponsorships can offer & think laterally about businesses that the opportunity might connect well with.
- Important! Know what the sponsor wants (not just what the club wants)
A business may have multiple reasons to support a sponsorship partnership. It’s imperative to understand the motives of the business to ensure both the club and sponsor gets the most from the partnership.
Get to know your sponsors and figure out what drives their motivations for a potential sponsorship deal. This will help you pull together a more tailored sponsorship package. Some examples of why a business may consider sponsorship is provided below.
This refers to the extent in which customers can recall or recognise a brand. A sponsor may want their brand to be more familiar.
This is how a brand is different from its competitors and where, or how, it sits in customers’ minds. Sponsoring your club may make the sponsor look more engaged with the community or more family friendly
The sponsor may want to sell products directly to your audience. This can mean selling their products during specific events or home games.
Build an audience
The sponsor may want to reach a wider audience and develop more leads. This could be through direct communication to your membership database.
Networking opportunities and build relationships
The sponsor may want to engage other club sponsors or stakeholders through networking opportunities or strengthen relationships with club members and other stakeholders.
It is often thought that the most important part is to recruit a sponsor. Whilst this is important, it is far better to keep a sponsor happy than always be looking to recruit a sponsor. Making sure you understand what the sponsor wants, being clear on what you will offer and actively deliver what they want (as a minimum) is more important.
Watch this 4-minute video about the importance of servicing sponsorships.
The worst thing you can say to a sponsor is “see you next year!”. This statement is an acknowledgement that the sponsor’s contribution is as a donation and they will get little if anything in return. The sponsor may see there is no value for them and is unlikely to sponsor the following year.
Once a partnership is agreed to, it’s essential that you continue to work with the sponsor to ensure deliverables are met. This can be an extension of the Sponsorship Spreadsheet which should include information about each deal and key deliverables. This document needs to be referred to frequently. It’s also very important to call or touch base with sponsors throughout the season to ensure they are happy and ask for any feedback.
The more engaged a sponsor is in your club, the more likely they will come back the following year. It’s important you make the sponsor feel part of your club. The following examples can help achieve this:
- Provide club apparel to wear when they come to game days
- Invite the sponsor and their family to key club events
- Offer reduced player registration fees for the sponsor
- Host events especially for sponsors – during the season and asap after the end of the season
- Send a personalised message from the players thanking sponsors
- Provide a signed jumper or football for them to display in their business
- Invite the sponsor to provide any club specific deals at key events
- Provide an extra they didn’t expect e.g. extra ad in the e-newsletter, mention on the scoreboard, recognition over the PA, provide an extra apparel item etc.
When you establish the objectives of the sponsorship deal, you need to agree with the sponsor how success will be measured. This is likely to be different for each sponsor depending on what they need to receive as a return for their investment in to the club
The success of any sponsorship is usually measured in two ways:
Quantitatively – tangible results you can count:
- Website analytics to track how many people are clicking through to sponsor sites
- Social media analytics to see the traction of the post e.g. interactions, shares, likes etc
- Broadcast exposure including onscreen/livestream logos, signage and mentions
- Business metrics including sales, leads and new accounts and business
Qualitatively – less tangible results that improve the sponsor’s position or circumstance:
- Customer/Audience satisfaction surveys
- Customer loyalty
- Brand perception
- Nature of comments on social media posts
Tracking how successful the sponsorship deal is will play a key role in the renewing partnerships and retaining existing sponsors.