Fundraising Through Sports: Why it Works and How To Do It

While many people will donate to worthy causes without thinking, sometimes people might need an extra little push. This is especially true if budgets are tight or you’d like to raise a relatively large sum of money, as you’ll need to come up with an idea that gives potential donors some value for their money as well as a way to keep donors interested over a longer period of time.

One way of doing this is by tying your fundraising efforts into a sports event. This is an incredibly versatile way to reach out for funding, as there are many ways this can be done, and many different types of events you can do, depending on your fundraising targets and donor audience. And although organising these types of events can be time-consuming and require more effort than simply asking for money, the rewards can be enormous.

Let’s look at why sports events can be so effective as fundraisers, and a few ideas for the next time you or your CSR department want to make a big donation drive.

The Benefits of Sports Fundraisers

Whether you’re looking to raise a large amount of money for an NPO or just trying to push one of your charity drives over the finish line, whether you’ve got a big team or just a couple of people on board, hosting a sporting event is an excellent way to do it.

Here are the advantages of fundraising through sports:

  • They add value – Let’s face it: participating in a sports event with your co-workers is always going to be fun. In this way, donors are automatically getting something in return for their philanthropy, whether it’s an exciting day of competition or just a sense of self-achievement. While it would be nice if we all donated without expecting something in return, there’s no doubt more people will open their wallets if they are rewarded in some way.
  • They’re different – As we’ll explain below, there are endless different ways to hold a sports fundraiser, and all of them are more exciting than simply passing around a hat asking for donations. This makes them a fantastic way to combat donor fatigue, or a feeling that they’ve done this all before without making a difference.
  • They involve the community – Using the local facilities and involving the local community helps out hugely in two ways. Firstly, by hooking in to an in-built audience, the word of your fundraiser will spread naturally and quickly without the need for extensive – and expensive – marketing. Secondly, your fundraiser actually helps the community by supporting local clubs and providing them with extra funding and exposure. It’s a win-win.
  • They’re naturally competitive – The atmosphere of competition that surrounds any sports event is perfect for boosting donations. As people try to outdo themselves and others on the field, they’re also going to try and outdo each other with their wallets!
  • They keep everyone active – Improving the physical fitness isn’t going to be the main aim of your sports fundraiser, but it is an excellent added bonus if you do decide to hold one. Keeping everyone active doesn’t just make people feel good about themselves in the short term, but also in the long term too. Inspiring people to keep fit will lead to reduced stress and depression, and fewer sick days too!

Ideas for Sports Fundraisers

Don’t know where to start with your sports fundraiser? Try out these ideas:

  • Charity Matches –  Charity matches are a winner on so many levels. Not only is it trivial to adapt virtually any team sport into a fundraising version, but forming the teams themselves is incredibly easy too: you can pit one office department against another, or step out onto the field against another company, or make it professionals versus amateurs. Best of all, you can raise fund through three separate channels: team sponsors, participant registration fees, and also tickets for spectators.
  • Steps Challenges – With the ubiquity of Fitbits and smartphone apps there’s never been an easier time to hold a steps challenge, where individuals (or teams) compete to see who can walk the greatest distance in a set amount of time. These kinds of challenges are one of the simplest to organise and run, since you don’t need to book a venue or have everyone together at the same time. Setting real-life targets (walking around the globe, for example) puts a fun spin on things, and the nature of the challenge makes fundraising through friends and family very simple.
  • Fitness Classes – Instead of a one-off event or a particular challenge, one attractive way to raise funds all-year round is with paid fitness classes for your employees. Since everybody likes to keep fit, all you need is a free space and a volunteer instructor and you’ve got a steady source of giving that’s rewarding for everyone involved.
  • Obstacle Courses – Entertainingly difficult obstacle courses, or challenge runs, have exploded in popularity over the last decade or so. It’s easy to see why, since they tap into our innate need to prove our toughness and provide a perfect opportunity to exercise your teamwork muscles at the same time. Although they might be considered too difficult and time-consuming to organise, especially if you don’t have many participants, there are plenty of dedicated companies out there who can organise it all for you.
  • Golfing Challenges – The golf course is possibly the most natural arena there is to set up a fundraising effort, since so much of the sport is naturally competitive and it’s so easy to adapt the scoring into specific challenges. Hole-in-one and birdie competitions, like the Migros Every Birdie Counts initiative, are exciting incentives for the golfing enthusiasts, while first time golfers will get a kick out of putting competitions or tournaments with players of the same skill level. Being both an individual and a communal sport, golf caters to pretty much everyone, while also hitting the sweet spot between competitiveness and fun.

Need a simple way to organise, manage, and track your next sports fundraiser? Copalana’s powerful Crowdfunding platform makes it easy for you, and helps you connect to vital NPOs that need your funding. Get started here.

Raphael Shinners
About the author
Raphael Shinners
Sports fundraisers are one of the most effective ways to boost donations and get your charity drive over the line. Here's why!

If you liked it,
explore more blogs


Give the Gift of Giving With a Copalana Gift Card

Copalana gift cards are a wonderful way to give: not just to the people you care about, but also to the world.


The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Gift-Giving

Giving gifts is a wonderful tradition, but it comes at a cost to the planet. Here's how to make your next gift better and more sustainable!

App View