Reprinted from BMXNEWS.COM
We have been working on an article on fundraising ideas for local BMX tracks for the past few weeks. It has been on the back burner as the news of the day took precedence. But late last week, the following reader letter showed up in our inbox. That put things on the fast-track, front-burner.
Our track needs a lot of work. It needs a rebuild, a new gate, and we’d like paved turns and soil-tack (sic). We don’t have very many people out here racing, but a lot come to ride. What are some fundraising ideas we can use to make this happen?
RM – (location withheld)
It’s great that you and your team have identified the areas for improvement to make your track the best it can be. Put together a detailed plan and go for it!
First: Let’s take a look at the current “revenue streams” most tracks have from general operations
Regular Track Revenue Streams:
Entry fees from racing
Grants (government, private foundations)
Concessions (food and/or bike parts)
Rentals (bikes, helmets, facility rental)
Fundraisers (50/50s, charity gaming, auctions, etc.)
In addition to those “normal” sources of revenue you are probably already drawing, here is a list of 15 more we developed. Realizing that, in addition to the fact that your track is cash-strapped, you probably have a recruitment/retention problem as well, some of these ideas do double duty as recruitment and promotional tools.
1). Birthday Parties. You can charge a per attendee rate (maybe $20), or a flat rate for the time the party is there. Some tracks do a “full-service” package where they include 2 hours of riding, pizza for lunch and a BMX birthday cake. Others charge an hourly rate for the rental, and it’s up to the party organizer to arrange the food. If you are handling the food, you should mark up these items as you would anything else, as it is a great convenience for the parents of the birthday boy/girl to just walk in and have it all handled. Be sure the parent arranging the party gets signed USA BMX waivers on a one-day membership form for the non-members in the group–do this two weeks in advance.
2). Monthly “Activity Days” for Homeschool Groups. Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds in all parts of the country, with an estimated 1.5 million kids now staying home for school. These families are always looking for new and exciting things to do, and BMX is perfectly suited to them. Many areas have homeschool “meetups,” or formal “co-ops,” where families meet once or twice a week to socialize and do field trips all the time (see link below for directory). Buddy up with these groups and introduce them to BMX racing at your track. Then hold special “activity days” for all the homeschoolers in your area, using the same model you would for birthday parties – $20 per kid. It’s a great way for homeschoolers from around the area to meet, and get some sports in to their program.
3). Track Photographer. Other organized sports leagues have “picture days,” why should BMX be any different? Recruit a parent who is handy with their DSLR, or work with a local photographer who does photos for other sports in town. The track can get a small commission per sitting–which will add up with a few dozen riders. If there is interest, maybe you could recruit a volunteer to sell action shots from your races, via Smug Mug, with the proceeds going to the track refresh fund. This will not be a huge fundraiser, but every little bit helps.
4). Sponsorships/Signage. This is an “oldie-but-goodie” for BMX Tracks. Sometimes it’s a local pizza parlor, or a paving company who helps with your turns. But really, any business in the community is a prospect. Put together a good promo piece, and you will make it happen. Some tracks charge $300 for the first year, with a slightly lower fee for renewal, but you could charge more for “premium” spots like the first turn, starting hill banner, or the announcers tower. Above, you can see the local sponsors of East Moline BMX lining the first turn during last year’s Quad City National. All while Answer-Rennen’s Markwane Billingsley takes care of biz in the 13x Main on Sunday.
5). Fundraising Candy Bars. Thousands of organizations across the country use these $1 chocolate bars as the perfect fundraiser. Your cost on the bars is about 60 cents each. Selling one box of 200 for a dollar each puts $80 into the refresh fund, and a smile on 200 faces.
6). Reserved “VIP” Pit Areas for teams for the Season. People love exclusive perks. Chunk out some prime real estate with the best view in the house, and offer it to teams or families who want to be a part of the refresh program. Maybe include some preferred parking spaces, right up front, as part of the package. Pricing on this will depend on your area, and demand, but maybe it starts at $20 per scheduled race day (requires a seasonal commitment).
7). T-Shirts/Branded Apparel. Use a crowdfunding apparel site like booster.com to offer track-branded T-Shirts, hoodies or whatever else you think your track logo would look great on (you DO have a track logo, right?). You set a sale price, and Booster does all the work of printing and fulfillment. Sell 50 T-Shirts at $20ea, and you’ll put $569 in the fund. Or, buddy-up with a local screen printer and trade presence at the track for them doing the shirts for you at cost. That could bump the profit to about $750 for 50 shirts sold (more if you have hoodies in there).
8). Web Site Advertising from Local Businesses. USA BMX provides every track with a full-featured “micro site” which we’re sure, as a Track Operator, you already know all about. Many tracks have their own stand-alone site which also includes local ad buttons or banners. On the USA BMX micro-site, part of the functionality they offer is to allow tracks to sell their own local advertising buttons. As you are talking to local businesses, some may not be able to step up with a couple hundred dollars a month to get their name out at your track. But they might be willing to come in for $25 or $50 a month for a button.
9). Field Trips by School Groups. Most schools have budgets for student field trips (and/or families fund those outings). Couple that with the national “Let’s Move” initiative to encourage kids to participate in activities beyond video games and Sponge Bob reruns on the couch. This is a golden recruiting opportunity as well as a fundraising vehicle, so be sure you have your best “beginner-friendly” face on for it. Get a local expert or pro to do a beginner clinic and stress “Bike Safety” with some parking lot drills.
10). Sponsored Gate Position. $250 per season to get a local business’ logo on a gate position (and staging lane). That will add $2000/yr to the fund. Or, maybe you could do it like this track in Australia did, and get a local business to take the whole front-face of your new Pro Gate Crescent.
11). “Shout outs” by the Announcer. Just like a radio station. Charge $10-$20ea, or make it a “whatever you want to donate” offer. Your announcers tower has a big voice for whatever message you want to put over it. Birthday announcements, brief commercials and maybe a marriage proposal every once in a while can put a few bucks in the fund every local race, when you do it right. Also, try “sponsored classes,” where $20 buys a message at the start of a particular class and corresponding main event.
12). “Wrenching Clinic” for dads who want to learn how to fix their kids’ bike. BMX dads want to learn how to dial-in the race rides under their supervision. But, there are mysteries in truing wheels, gear selection, that racket from the bottom bracket and other ways to make that scoot turn into race day trophy loot. It’s not a one-day affair, so grab a local wrench who knows everything about the inner-workings, and make it a series of classes. A dialed bike rides better!
13). Seniors with no family may bequeath money to children’s causes. Of course you’re not going to start hanging around senior homes to drum up business, but as a long term member of the community, you may know someone who knows someone who has been involved charities that serve children’s causes, or sports. Some seniors, or family of the recently deceased may also donate a vehicle which you would then sell and apply the proceeds to your refresh fund. 1-877-kars-for-kids has raised over a hundred million dollars in that fashion over the years. This is probably only viable if your track is a 501(c)(3)
14). “Company Days.” Hit up local corporations, hospitals, maybe even your city hall to sponsor a “XYZ Company Day” where all the families who work there come, BBQ and watch a presentation on BMX racing, then your local race. Work with your restaurant advertisers to do the catering. You will need to apply a bigger-than-normal “show” factor to this — more of a carnival atmosphere than the normal BMX race. Organize some events to get the crowd involved, and be ready with some ways people can get involved with your track after the event. Another “golden” opportunity for recruitment.
15). “Bundling” of services. “Do you want the meal or the sandwich only?” Most folks go for the meal, because of the perceived value of the discounted fries and drink (or whatever). Put together some “packages” of the above services and take 10-15% off the ala carte pricing. This will increase the total investment, and increase the client’s involvement in your program.
The most important thing, which few fundraisers actually execute on, is to work with your supporters as true “partners.” How can you make their investment pay dividends beyond the monetary investment. Much of the time, the organization receiving the support cashes the check, and doesn’t call again ’til next year. Also, if you have local businesses working with you, how can you get involved in their businesses to plus-up your program?
Bottom line: your track is an asset. Use all of it, all the time, and have your eyes and ears open in the community. Get out and network with local businesses, maybe join the Chamber of Commerce–then attend the meetings. It isn’t going to work if you are just at the track, waiting for the opportunities to come to you. Make the time, or appoint someone who can. If you do that, and make a clear plan to your goal of the full refresh, you’ll be there before you know it.
If you think this article would help out your track, please share it.