Running a team isn’t inexpensive, especially as the costs for everything seem to just go up, up, up! Fundraising is becoming an increasingly important part of how sports teams meet their financing needs. In this post, we’re going to break down some old (and new!) ideas that your team can successfully use to raise cash for your next tournament, new gear, or whatever else your team needs!

It goes without saying, but you’ll see the best success when your entire team – and their families – are engaged.

Host a Bowling Tournament

10 Pint Bowling

While not quite as popular as it used to be, people still love to get out there and bowl! Bowling is fun, loved by all ages, and easy to set up as a round-robin style tournament. Local alleys are also usually pretty amenable to a tournament, especially if it’s for a good cause. We’ve had success negotiating a portion of entry fees and food/beverage sales.

But the big-ticket for your team isn’t a small cut of the entry fees- its the tournament itself!

For a solo tournament, have a $15 “buy-in” per player. Set up matches where four to six players square off against each other. With a few lanes to bowl in, and with the average game taking under 40 minutes to complete, you could earn a decent amount of cash for your team in short order!

Having some choice prizes from local vendors is an ideal way to reward the winners. Look for something that is sought after in your community, and don’t be afraid to get a little unconventional. We connected with a local rancher and had a series of boxes of beef jerky in different sizes and flavors up for grabs. We gave everyone a sample pack when they bought their ticket and the results were gangbusters!

Sell Food

A Selection of Delicious Cheeses

Solutions like TeamFund make a food fundraiser an easy affair, and it’s hard to understate how well these types of fundraisers can work… especially when you’ve got some seriously good eats up for grabs! You’ll see the most success here when you’re offering up something that is either priced competitive, or something that is hard to obtain in your area.

The beef jerky I mentioned above? Yea, that worked out great as a prize for the bowling tournament… but even better as a stand-alone item for sale! Because it came from a local rancher, it really was the best jerky ever and people gobbled it up.

Expect to see a 10-15% return on food items sold, meaning that for every $1,000 your team sells, you could see up to $150 in cash come your way. Not bad!

A few ideas that we’ve seen work really well:

  • Specialty olive oils
  • Specialty cheeses
  • Packaged meats (sausages, jerky, etc.)
  • Fresh chicken breasts
  • Desserts (mmmm)
  • Popcorn

Sell Coffee

Coffee Fundraiser

Sure, I could have tossed this above in the “food” category, but coffee really is its own animal, isn’t it? And people are always looking to find a new gourmet blend to start their day with.

The key to making this one work is having something truly unique. Nobody is going to kick cash for your fundraiser if they can get the same coffee for less money on Amazon. Look for local roasters, or approach local artisan coffee shops, and offer their ground-goodness for your fundraiser. Coffee sells, and great coffee sells out.

Sell Flavored Popcorn


Okay, okay, this is the last food one, I swear!

Turn the team players into little entrepreneurs by having them create and sell flavored popcorn. First, have the members of the team survey their fellow students to discover which popcorn flavors are the most popular. Is it cheddar, sour cream and onion, or caramel?

Take the top three flavors and make multiple batches to sell at school. Have them available to purchase during the lunch hour for an entire week. Since popcorn doesn’t cost much to make, you’ll have a nice little profit in the end.

Host a Talent Competition

Kid With a Talent Show

The only cost with a talent competition is picking up a few trophies to give to the winners. Ask students to sign up with a talent. This can be anything from singing to dancing to telling a few jokes. Kids can do a trick with their dogs, put on a short skit, or show off their karate moves. A diverse group of talent makes for a great show. Once you have your talent in place, you can begin selling tickets to the event. For a few extra dollars have parents send in baked goods that you can sell to the audience.

We recommend setting a time limit – say 3 minutes max per contestant – to ensure that your talent show doesn’t become an all-night affair. 

Host a Dog Wash

Dog Wash Fundraiser

Contact a local dog park and see if they will allow you to host a dog wash there. Once you have permission you can put out flyers around town, in local vet offices, and throughout the school. Charge a set amount for a wash and a dollar or two extra for a dry.

You can supercharge this one by approaching local groomers asking if they’d be willing to donate some of their time for a premium wash, where the professional gets involved and shows your team how it’s done! This is a great group event that brings awareness to your team and the sponsors of the event itself. You’ll be amazed how many groomers will hop on board since it doesn’t cost them anything other than a bit of time.

Watermelon Eating Contest

Watermelon eating contest fundraiser

Host a watermelon eating contest. All this will cost you is a few watermelons.

To start off you’ll need to create a few categories, such as girls ages 5-10, boys ages 13 to 15, parents, or teachers. Once you have 10 to 12 categories, you can begin selling tickets for that category. On the day of the event give each contestant a large piece of watermelon. The individual who finishes their piece first is the winner. You’ll need a few ribbons to hand out to each winner, which can be purchased cheaply if you can’t get them donated.

Rent a Team

Baseball Player Running the Bases

This one is one of our favorites because it’s so easy. Rent a team is exactly what it sounds like: parents/communities/associations/etc. kick in some cash to “rent” your team. They could be shoveling driveways, mowing lawns, cleaning up litter… you name it! As long as the ask is reasonable, why not? The cost to this one is almost nothing outside of some time spent on flyers/classified ads.

Note: make sure you have a volunteer that is always watching the team when they’re being “rented”. Handing 12 kids a bunch of snow shovels unsupervised sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Rubber Duck Race

rubber duck

This one is always a crowd-pleaser.

Here’s how it goes: purchase a batch of rubber ducks in bulk and then sell the ducks to students, parents, and teachers. Each duck will need a unique number placed on its back with a permanent magic marker.

Locate a small stream or river that you can send the ducks down for a race. At the “finish line” there will need to be a net as the finish line to collect the ducks. The first duck that touches the net is the winner. Have a small prize ready for the owner of the winning duck.

Teachers vs. Team Tug-Of-War

Tug of War
(I know these aren’t students, but do you know how hard it is to find a tug of war image of kids?!)

Another crowd pleasure, and a bit unconventional as far as team fundraisers go, and it usually doesn’t cost anything assuming your school has or has access to a tug of war rope (or even just a really big rope). Next, find some teachers willing to give it a go and pit them against your team (try to keep the odds even here – pitting a football coach + gym teacher against a small team of grade 5 soccer students is going to hurt no matter how many soccer drills those kids do).

Sell raffle tickets so people can bet on the winning team, and the winning team then runs a raffle by pulling tickets out of a hat.

This is not only fun, but it’s always a good show!

Bonus Fundraising Ideas!

We couldn’t choose only 10, we want you to be well equipped with AWESOME ideas for this year and down the road.

Customized Elite Socks

Customized elite socks fundraiser

Elite socks are really, really popular among young athletes. Although they’re on the more expensive side, the price tag is worth the quality of the brand – and past fundraisers using Elite have ended up being super successful for teams of all kinds. Options to personalize the socks include colors, logo, and text! 

You can purchase socks for $8.99/per pair and sell for $16.99 per pair. It takes 3-4 weeks to get the socks after an order is placed, 3-4 weeks to sell 250 pairs, and you can earn up to $2000 in those 3-4 weeks

Design your socks here.

Rent-An-Athlete Or Rent-A-Student

rent an athlete fundraiser

The best part about this fundraiser is that there is a 100% profit! Your organization can offer to “rent your students” to families to do mow their lawns, do yard work, walk their dogs, help clean out their garage, or any other jobs they might need done. This is typically done in increments of 30 minutes. It’s pretty cut and dry and a great money maker! It’s also a fun opportunity to bring the community together for a fun event.

What this costs, and how long it takes, is up to you what you pay out to set up the event for families to “rent.” Of course, you could always just spread the word and have virtually no cost for this idea and just have sign-up sheets!

This type of fundraiser allows you to earn 100% profit. Check here for a quick how-to for hosting your own.

Try a Read-a-Thon

student reading

Read-a-Thon fundraisers are awesome to run because they can happen year-round, require little in the ways of supplies/preparation, and can be built to include a huge chunk of students. Not only is this an “easier” fundraiser to run, but it is open to all grade levels and helps students improve their reading and writing skills (always a good thing).

If you want top keep things physical (but like the idea of running an “A Thon”), try a walk-a-thon fundraiser – very similar, but walking instead of reading!

Host a Silent Auction

silent auction

Silent auctions make for great fundraisers because you can get really creative with the items/services you include the auction. Thanks to smartphones and apps, it’s easier than ever to host a silent auction. Silent auction apps like BidBeacon make setting up and managing auctions easy and intuitive. In most cases, the app will handle user registration, bid management, and payments, too!

If you like the idea but are unsure of how to get started, check out this list of list of silent auction item ideas as well as this post about what silent auction mistakes you should avoid.

Discount Cards

discount card fundraiser ideaThese cards include discounts to both national and local restaurants and retailers that can be used repetitively for one year. You can secure up to 15 businesses that community members can benefit from. Often times this fundraiser is one that a school or team will do every year because people love the cards and look for the students to sell them annually!

Discount cards are typically sold at $15 or $20 per card and you can expect to earn 50-93% profit! We recommend running this at the start of the school year and consider selling them for the typical for 3-4 weeks.

Learn more about the card details here.


Entertainment Books

entertainment book fundraiser

These books are wonderful – and like the discount cards – community members will want to purchase one every year. They are loaded with local coupons and save us a ton of money. There is no upfront cost or out of pocket expense and shipping is free. You pay the company after they’ve been paid so it is literally $0 to get started.

Like the discount cards, start selling at the start of the school year for 3-4 weeks. Your school or team can earn up to 40% profit!

Learn more about fundraising with Entertainment here


Trash Bags

colorful trashbag fundraiser

Although these are not the most exciting products, they are great sellers because everyone uses trash bags! The overall price point is really low which is a great selling point as well. These are perfect per team or even as a school sports fundraiser as well.  It takes 2-4 weeks to get the bags with the fundraiser recommendation that you have it lasts 2 weeks.

The potential to meet whatever goal you’re trying to achieve, for example, $3000, for new band equipment, is wide open since everyone needs trash bags and we all love supporting a good cause.

A few companies that do the trash bag fundraisers are Bags for Bucks, Frontier Bag, and Resource Fundraising.