Tips for stretching your budget

September 1, 2018 / Athletic Administration
{Sponsored} High school athletics programs across the country continue to seek new methods for handling funding challenges despite some budgets beginning to rebound. Roughly one in five schools reports an increase in their athletic budgets, according to Coach and Athletic Director’s latest State of the Industry survey. While school budgets have yet to return to their pre-recession levels, there are signs of improvements.

Roughly one in four athletic departments saw increases in their budgets during the 2017-2018 school year, the survey found. That’s up nearly 8 percent over the previous year. Nearly 19 percent of schools reported decreases of at least 2 percent in their athletic budgets, which is similar to last year’s findings. More than 58 percent of athletic directors said their budgets did not change.

Whether you’re looking to invest in new capital projects or your program’s technology, these tips will give you ideas of how you can stretch your budget to make room for the improvements your teams need.

View parents and alumni as resources. The lesson for high school sports programs is to begin leaning more on parents and alumni. Oftentimes, they are willing to lend support through resources and connections, especially if it means lowering monetary pressures for them.

Use incentives to get parents or alumni to volunteer at games or tournaments. Rather than hiring someone to work a ticket station or shoot video of your game, use your contacts to find volunteers. Keep track of how often parents or alumni volunteer and offer free spirit wear or recognition at the end of the season banquet to encourage participation.

Organize and take inventory. Teams should dedicate time at the beginning and end of each season to take inventory of all equipment, uniforms, technology and supplies used. A spreadsheet can help coaches track what they have, what needs replacing and what can still be used the following season. Make sure to include the condition of each item and a prioritized wish list of anything you may need for the next season.

Accuracy and justification are key in budgeting. As you create your budget make sure there is appropriate justification for each request. By doing this you’ll clean up your budget and build trust with your school board, staff and community members. If you’re hoping to purchase new technology like scoreboards or play diagramming software, show the school board and athletic director that there are affordable options. Investing in technology may help save money down the road by offering opportunities for sponsorship and making coaching time more efficient.

Get creative with fundraising opportunities. From school to school the responsible party for fundraising ranges from booster clubs or student body to coaches, athletic directors or the athletes themselves. Here are some ideas to consider.

  • Drive for Your School/Students
    • Ford, Buick and Lincoln are among some of the vehicle companies that host test drives as fundraisers for schools. During the fundraiser, potential buyers are able to test-drive a vehicle without sales people present. In return, the vehicle manufacturer provides a monetary donation to the school for each test drive up to a certain amount.
  • Auction
    • Ask parents, alumni and sponsors to consider donating items to put up for auction. Reaching out to connections parents have may help in getting high-sale items donated. Think out of the box and consider auctioning off services like a night of babysitting by an athlete or a team doing yard work for an afternoon.
  • Tailgates
    • In college and professional sports tailgates are an opportunity to boost fan engagement. But this can also be an opportunity to boost connections between teams in your athletic program. Ask parents and community members to donate food and drinks to sell at the tailgate. If you’ve planned the tailgate for a fall sport like football have athletes from a spring sport like soccer work the event. When spring sports begin, have the football players work the tailgate before a soccer game.

For additional information on budgeting, consider taking a leadership training course through the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. The NIAAA offers a course called “Concepts and Strategies For Interscholastic Budgeting and Finance Using Excel Spreadsheets.” The course is highly recommended for all athletic directors responsible for creating their department’s budget.

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