From team fees to travel expenses, the financial cost of club and select soccer can be intimidating. Fortunately, thanks to new technologies that are transforming the sports fundraising landscape, fundraising for soccer teams isn’t nearly as demanding as it used to be.
Here’s one former youth soccer player’s fundraising story and her ideas for fundraising smarter so players, coaches, and parents can focus more on what matters most.
Every year, there we were: my entire soccer team, standing at the same intersection by the gas station in my town, begging people to let us wash their cars.
We would bring buckets, sponges, and soap to the local gas station – which would generously let us use its hose. We were required to sell tickets prior to wash day, but we still ended up standing on the sidewalk urging people who hadn’t previously bought tickets to swing through. Surprisingly, people actually came. Unsurprisingly, the washes were never very good.
My hands would be pruned for hours and I would go home soaking wet and smelling like cherry scented car soap.
I was playing both club and high school soccer balancing work, school work and family time, all while trying to keep my tiny ember of a social life alive. I didn't have time to go door-to-door selling discount cards, and after a full week of school and soccer, I didn’t have the energy to stand at a gas station barefoot all day washing people's cars.
I wasn’t the only one who felt discouraged. Fundraising was a burden on my teammates, coaches, and parents. Worst of all, it was ineffective.
Nevertheless, returning rain or shine were always my two most loyal customers: my parents. They bought all ten of my car wash tickets and discount cards every single year. We were fortunate enough to have that luxury. Many of my teammates weren’t so lucky. And though my extended family members living in other states always wanted to contribute, they couldn't be there for the car wash or use the discount cards at our local shops and restaurants.
If only I (or my parents) had known just how much easier fundraising could be. But more on that in a minute.
How much does club soccer actually cost?
Soccer isn't cheap, especially for athletes on club and select teams. Club fees can be as much as $1,500 per athlete per season – which doesn’t even include mandatory kit purchases and travel fees.
Each year for club we were required to purchase full kits, which included:
• 2 jerseys
• 2 practice shirts
• 2 pairs of shorts
• 4 pairs of socks
• A soccer ball
That would all total around $350. That was in addition to shin guard and cleat purchases, which put us out of another $200.
Then, there were travel costs. We would fly occasionally from Seattle to California and eastern Washington for tournaments. Beyond the air travel, my poor mom put some serious miles on her car and burned through a metric ton of gas to drive me to tournaments and games in every corner of the Pacific Northwest.
To this day I don’t know how she managed it, but I’m incredibly thankful for her.
Fundraising is necessary. But it doesn’t have to be painful.
Fortunately, fundraising has come a long way in the years since I was an athlete.
Going door-to-door selling products and washing cars was necessary back when we didn't have any alternatives. But now we are able to reach more people in less time than ever before through the power of technology.
We no longer have to rely on several dozen people with dirty cars to support us. Fundraising platforms like Snap! Raise allow us to connect our network all over the country and world for donations to the teams and programs that matter to us most.
When it comes down to it, the cost of soccer is priceless. The experiences, memories, and the life skills a young athlete gains from the beautiful game will last a lifetime.
There were days where I didn't think I could run another 120, games where I didn't think I had anything left in me, weekends I didn't want to sacrifice to travel. But there were also coaches who made me a better player and person, teammates who have become lifelong friends, and the incredible feeling that comes from competing with and against the top athletes in the region.
A lack of funds should never get in the way of those meaningful experiences.
Soccer made me who I am today. It's the game that continues to give back. There's no reason someone should be denied that opportunity because of a lack of funding.
Forget the cherry soap. If you are looking for a hassle-free way to elevate your soccer fundraiser, check out how Snap! Raise is built to help soccer teams achieve their fundraising goals!Start a Fundraiser
Riley Brown is the Community Relations Specialist with Snap! Raise. Before going on to earn a degree in journalism and communications from the University of Arizona, she dedicated eight years of her life to playing soccer at the middle school, high school, and club levels, which didn’t leave much time for anything else.