The problem with upgrades to facilities is two-fold. Most big-ticket items fall outside the purview of a school’s normal athletic budget, and most schools rely upon the football program to spearhead the fundraising efforts to finance these projects.
Fortunately, in this era of ever-shrinking athletic budgets, football programs have become quite adept at raising money for big-ticket items. For head coach Mike Morrill and the football staff at Cardinal Gibbons High School – a private catholic school in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with an enrollment of 1,200 – the process begins each year at the AFCA Convention.
“Coach Morrill, who has been at our school for 29 years, has a philosophy that the football program should be in better overall shape after we leave than it was when we first got here,” says Matt DuBuc, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Cardinal Gibbons. “Our locker room was built in 1990 and it was definitely showing its age with its carpeted floors and over 20 years of wear and tear.
“After the 2013 season, we decided that a complete locker room overhaul was needed and a budget was developed for the project, based upon what we felt we could realistically raise in fundraising and how much the school could afford to kick in.”
Fundraising For New Lockers
With a locker room upgrade on the agenda, the Cardinal Gibbons staff headed to the 2014 AFCA Convention in Indianapolis in search of facility information and spoke to vendors in on the trade show floor.
“We decided to start with the lockers as the centerpiece of the renovation project,” says Dubuc. “We needed to learn what was available from locker companies and what fell into our price range.”
The decision was made to purchase 55 custom-made oak lockers from a company that best fit Cardinal Gibbons’ needs and allowed the school billing flexibility to make a down payment on August 1 (after the lockers were installed) and pay the remaining balance by the end of 2014 (after their fundraiser had concluded).
In the summer of 2014, Cardinal Gibbons’ staffers took photos of the old locker room demolition, emailed them to the school’s 10,000 alumni and teased the new locker room project as a major event.
Prior to the season kickoff, they executed another email campaign that displayed teaser photos of the newly finished locker room and touted a major fundraising effort to pay for the renovation.
Fundraising Benefits Alumni Too
Cardinal Gibbons developed a fundraising program with only 25 packages available, called the “First-Team Club” which had a price tag of a $2,000 donation. They included:
- two season tickets,
- a preferred-parking pass,pre-game sideline passes, and
- an engraved, metal nameplate with the donor’s name that would be affixed to the front of the locker of their choice.
These packages were available on a first-come basis.
The night of the program’s home opener, they conducted pre-game and halftime walk-thru tours of the new locker room with interested alumni. Afterward, all 25 First-Team Club packages sold out, generating $50,000 in revenue.
“Many of our alumni are ex-players and those guys wanted lockers where they used to dress back when they played,” says Dubuc. “It was amazing how quickly those First-Team Club packages sold out.”
Sponsorship of the 30 remaining lockers quickly sold for $600 each and generated an additional $18,000 in donations. The decision was then made to open up a second nameplate position on all 55 lockers. Another 20 locker sponsorships sold in 2014 for $600 each, generating another $12,000 in donations.
All told, 75 locker nameplate sponsorships and First-Team Club packages were sold in 2014 and generated $80,000 in donations for the locker room renovation project.
Best of all, this opportunity only taps into 110 of the 10,000-member Cardinal Gibbons alumni base, leaving the door open to other creative fundraising ideas.
Do YOU have a creative fundraising story? E-mail Mike Podoll at email@example.com. We’ll feature them in future issues of AFCA Weekly, the official email newsletter of the AFCA.
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