Due to dip in funds, sports teams look for other ways to raise money

March 31, 2019 — by Jun Lee and Howard Tang

In the fall, the water polo teams distributed links to a fundraising platform to raise money for ball cages and tournament fees.

In the winter, the boys’ basketball team hosted a 3-pointer shooting tournament, using the money to replenish their supply of balls, bags and uniforms.

This spring, the track and field team sold coupons for nearby restaurants in an effort to purchase new equipment.

These are three of the many teams that are now having to fundraise due to the athletics department running a deficit upwards of $80,000 in the last couple of years and a law that makes it illegal to demand money from parents for activities in a public school. Some parents have persistently not paid the asked-for $275 donation per sport that their children play.

As a result, the school is unable to provide enough money for sports teams, so they are now sometimes struggling to hire transportation to away games and pay for additional equipment. Teams are having to run their own fundraisers to support their programs or choose to ignore traditional services.

Despite not receiving full funding from the athletic program, all fall and winter sports are surviving by using the new financial model.

“As of the past winter, all sports are in the black,” athletics director Tim Lugo said. “Not by much, but everyone is paid for in the fall and winter teams.”

Sources of costs for supporting the teams vary, but according Lugo, most teams need to cover the costs of transportation, referees and other officials, league dues, awards and salaries of the coach and assistant coaches.

Some sports, such as badminton, have decided to forgo fundraising and instead not pay for transportation and other less essential services. According to senior captain Nathan Luk, this is the first year that the team will not have buses to all away games. To make up for this, more parents need to drive players to and from games.

Other sports, such as golf and tennis, do not require many additional funds and do not need to fundraise.

The boys’ and girls’ golf coach David Gragnola’s membership at the Saratoga Country Club allows the teams to avoid paying the greens fees there when they practice and play. Furthermore, the help of parent donations has reduced the costs of maintaining the sport to only $900, an amount that can be covered by the school without having to fundraise.

The tennis team also receives large parent donations and does not need to fundraise. “But that model of parent donations is not going to be around forever,” Lugo cautioned.

He said most teams are sustaining themselves through their own fundraising. Several teams, including the football team, have been doing well with this new plan. One of the football team’s most effective approaches is directly asking potential supporters for donations.

Lugo also said they have an online platform Snap! Raise where athletes put in emails of 20 family members of responders and the email goes out to the people during the process. People receive the email with the link to our donation page, which shows the reason why team’s raising money, and there’s a video from the kids saying, “Please support us.”

Although the football team earns approximately $40,000 to $50,000 from this fundraiser, it is not the only one they run. At the beginning of each year, they partner with nearby restaurants for coupons to carry out blitz card sales. Team members then go door-to-door around the neighborhoods and sell the cards. Additionally, they earn anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 through snack bar sales and an additional $16,000 from sales of entry tickets to games.

The football team has been doing well on fundraising ever since Lugo arrived at the school in 2008, successfully paying the sports equipment replacements and transportation fees, as well as referees.

Like football, the track and field team has connected with several organizations to raise money by selling coupon packets. The team advertises two different offers: coupon cards for various restaurants and year-long discounts for other restaurants. Junior Kole Tippets said that the money raised from the coupons helped the team buy hurdles last year.

According to Lugo, the field hockey team raised $7,600 and the boys’ water polo team made over $6,000 this year, all from the Snap! Raise platform. The girls’ water polo team ran a fundraiser through the website Vertical Raise and made about $3,000.

However, not all teams are using proven methods, such as online fundraising and coupon cards. The boys’ basketball team tried a different method over the summer, when members of the team reached out to several sponsors, including Intero Real Estate Services and Str8 Sports, to help run a summer  basketball tournament.

The approximately $10,000 the boys earned from the event paid for new jerseys, bags and other equipment. According to senior captain Hanlin Sun, the extent of equipment that has to be funded through individual team efforts have made these fundraisers more essential.

The money sports teams receive from parent donations goes to the ASB general fund and is not reserved to cover costs for any specific sport, Lugo said.

Many of the fundraisers demand substantial time and effort from players.

“Although fundraising is a lot of extra work, it’s something we need to do in able to participate in the sport we love,” Sun said.

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