How wrestling programs can raise more money than ever through crowdfunding

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On Saturday, Nov. 12 the South Saint Paul, Minnesota High School wrestling team hosted a wrestling fundraiser. The event? A professional wrestling match at South Saint Paul High School. It was a fun evening for wrestling fans and the local community. It raised money, and helped promote the sport of wrestling. It helped the team get together and create a buzz for the upcoming season.

In early October the Colorado Mesa University (CMU) wrestling program held its 11th Annual Steak and Crab Fest in Grand Junction, Colorado. About 800 people paid $60 to eat as much steak and crab as they could (drinks included). Hot dogs and sodas were available for kids for $5, and all proceeds benefited the CMU wrestling program. When Virginia Tech head coach Kevin Dresser was a high school coach, his team put on a bingo fundraiser.

“They had to hustle, but they raised a crazy amount of money that helped fund their budget,” said Coyte Cooper, an All-American wrestler at Indiana University who has a Doctorate in Sport Marketing & Management from Indiana University. Cooper is active in helping wrestling programs build their brand and use social media to promote their programs.

Fundraising events like these are common in sports at all levels.

In fact, today’s coaches are often working harder than ever to promote their program and raise money. Where is the time for actually coaching? Every team and coach has their limits. Could your youth, high school or collegiate athletic team use more money? Would they welcome another way to raise money that wasn’t as time consuming?

The answer is obvious: Yes.

“Show me a team that competes at the travel, high school or college level that couldn’t put more money to great use right now,” says Jon Goldman, founder of Reaching our Goal, a company he founded in 2004 that helps teams raise money through crowdfunding and without the hassle and time commitment that traditional fund raising creates. Goldman has a background in marketing and communications, specifically in sports media, having previously founded a national sports talk radio network.

Goldman continued: “Local communities across the country are suffering from ‘fundraising fatigue’ as school teams, bands, scouts, are all asking residents for support by trying to sell things that fewer and fewer people need or even want to buy. Discount cards, candles, candy, frozen pizza, subscriptions, T-shirts, are just not that appealing anymore. Plus, most of the profit from selling products goes to the supplier instead of the team or the group that really needs the funds. Crowdfunding is a much smarter and more modern way to go these days.”
Does it work?

John Jay High School Wrestling raised $15,000 with Reaching Our Goal. Cal Poly Track raised $16,000 with Reaching Our Goal. Somers High School Baseball raised $11,000 with Reach Our Goal.

“Teams at high schools and smaller colleges are desperate for extra funds,” says Goldman. “Billions of dollars have been stripped away from athletics over the last few years but the costs of running teams increases year after year. Reaching Our Goal provides coaches and athletes with a completely new and untapped stream of revenue from people across the country rather than knocking on the doors in town.”

Brent Harvey, director of women’s wrestling for Michigan USA Wrestling, knows what it’s like to spend all day raising money to help athletes attend tournaments, purchase uniforms and raise funds needed to be successful. It’s gruesome work.

“Many athletes could not spend all day in a car to arrive at a fundraiser that would only raise enough to cover the gas they spent to get there and back,” says Harvey.

Traditional fundraising platforms can become a full-time job. Most teams and individual athletes (and their parents) have neither the time or interest to devote days, weeks or months to fundraising through continuous online self-promotion. Fundraising, as in “the generation of external funding resources” is the obvious appropriate response to this enormous challenge. So, why is there so much resistance to it among coaches and athletes, often among parents, too?

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