Overcoming the obstacle of convincing your team parents, school administrators, and booster club members to buy-in to your program is a real challenge. Regardless of the reason for why you need more support, it is going to take some extra effort from you to gain the favor of these groups. In our experience, these are the best ways to win over the people who fund your program.
Host and attend public events
One of the most effective ways to gain buy-in from your admin, parents, and boosters is to make them feel like a part of the team themselves. Organize and host team events and invite each of these groups to attend. Whether it’s a cookout or a volunteering opportunity that you put together, building a sense of community around your team which includes those who you need support from will go a long way.
Additionally, attending the events hosted by other programs at your school — even those beyond athletics — could help you win even greater favor from admin, parents, and boosters. Showing a willingness to buy-in to the school as a whole will land you in good graces with those who fund the various programs throughout the institution.
Give empathy to get it
“Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey
The first step towards being heard by your administration is to show your interest in hearing their perspective. Schedule a meeting with them to discuss the different ways in which your sport can help uplift the school.
Before you share your two cents, allow them to first explain the value that they see in your program. Understanding what they perceive as being beneficial from your team’s success should help you to effectively forge your requests for funding in the future. Appeasing their desires en route to having yours paid for creates a win-win situation.
A great way to improve buy-in from parents, alumni, and boosters is to get personally involved with them. Emphasize your people skills in these relationships by remembering the birthdays of Booster Club board members, mentioning graduation years of notable Alumni Club members, and taking the time to genuinely get to know them. Giving this extra effort will go a long way.
Another great tip is to show that you care to hear people’s opinions on your program. Create a place for your supporters to share their input by sending out a feedback survey after the season to improve next year.
Celebrate the Wins
Build a presence for your program on social media. Not just to celebrate your team’s success, but to appeal to the emotions of your supporters by publicly recognizing their efforts. Small acts like these may seem trivial, but could make a world of difference in the vested interest of your parents, alumni, boosters, and administration.
You can also set up a text chain with these groups. It can be as simple as you like, but include things like schedule updates, game results, and reminders of team events. This is another small step to enhance the experience of being a part of your team. It won’t go unnoticed when you’re using the best sports team communication apps.
Do your own fundraising
With titleIX and other equality concerns among athletic programs, coaches sometimes need to take matters into their own hands. If each program at your school receives the exact same financial support from the administration or boosters, then you will need to come up with the extra money on your own. One great way to gain buy-in from those making decisions on money distribution would be to match and exceed what they allocate to your program through fundraising.
If your team can come up with the same amount of money that your admin is willing to give you, then you can cover the team’s basic needs on your own, using the surplus as you see fit. This will give you greater power in negotiating what the money that they have already set aside for you will go towards. Furthermore, proving your willingness to shoulder the responsibility of funding your own program may lead to greater financial support in the future.
Bonus Tip: “Coffee with Coach _____” newsletter
Sending out a weekly newsletter to all who are involved in the program is a great way to get personal. Share team progress, emphasize the things you are most excited about, and even tie everyone in on the drills that you plan to work on in the upcoming week.
This newsletter is not just a great way to improve upon the community feel around your program, but it will present you with a place to reflect on and plan out your week. Transparency is key here, and presenting yourself as an open book could lead to other benefits as well. Part of the newsletter could include equipment that your program needs. It can essentially serve as a primer for approval and funding in a passive way.
Your weekly notes should be regular through the season, and taper off in the offseason, but not completely go away. Create a sense of constant relevance and energy around your program to keep your parents, alumni, boosters, and administration excited about what is to come. That way, when it comes time for you to make an approval or budget ask, you’re much more likely to get a resounding “YES!”