By Fieke Reijntjes
Putting the equipment sponsorship to the side, the question most people would like to know the answer to is: How do we raise money? There isn’t a straight forward answer and that’s probably because raising money isn’t easy and it will cost time and effort. Finding financial support can contribute massively to more enjoyment by taking pressure away and feeling valued whilst training for and competing in our beautiful sport.
There are a few really successful ways of raising money for rafting showcased by different teams. This article might give you a few ideas’ to start your own projects or find a sponsor. The below is tested by teams from the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain and Brazil. Hopefully it will motivate other teams to share their ways of raising money in the Facebook post!
Buying things and selling them on for a higher price to make money is a frequently used tactic to raise money. Things to decide on are: what product to sell, how much extra money can you sell it for, to bulk buy in advance and hope for enough sales, or take pre-orders and only buy and sell a measured amount? A popular item to sell is T-shirts to friends and family, the issue being that at some point everyone’s cupboard is full with raft racing t-shirts. The key to continued success is defining who would buy your products (friends and family only, the wider community?). Followed by, what could these people never have enough of? Bottles of wine are one of the items people can buy a few of. You can sell them per item or per box(es) and add value by adding a personal label. If you bulk buy a good quality wine you can add some good money before selling them on.
Sell your team and your adventures
The best sponsorship deals in our sport often happen because someone is interested and impressed by what you are doing! It can be a company you have a connection with or you might be lucky and start a conversation with the right person! Talking about your sport and showing yourself when training in busy area’s can put your team in the picture of potential sponsors. Talk with the person next to you on a plane when coming back from a competition, smile at the corporate rafting customers you share a course or river with when training, and be proud of what you do! Things that can aid the start of a conversation are wearing (national) team kit or wearing training bibs and show people how they can get in touch with the team for sponsorship.
Grants and other sport support constructions
In some countries there are grants and other financial benefits available. Ask your local council, school or sport federation if there is any support available for non-Olympic sports. You might need to be under a certain age or part of a specific federation but it is worth finding out what’s possible.
Organise a party
If you have a strong community around your rafting team, throw a party! Find a venue where you can organise your own food and maybe even sell your own drinks. Cook a big easy meal and ask people for an entry fee that gives them a plate of nice and simple food, sell drinks on top for extra income. Add even more value by having friends playing music or give people the option to buy cake or cookies for dessert! For further evening entertainment and extra money organise a quiz, duck race (only on artificial courses where you can collect them afterwards though!), raffle or even better an auction (make loads more money with the same prizes). Make sure the drinks are flowing before the auction starts so the bids will flow too and find a skilful auction master.
Take people rafting
Companies don’t like to give away money but you have something to offer: the greatest team building activity out there! Explore what kind of team day you can offer, on what water, with what equipment and for how many people. Add a lunch, a presentation about the sport and your team to add extra value so you can sell the day for a good price (no need to go lower than other team building activities in the area). Present this amazing team day to the company you work for or companies you have a connection with! A few words of advice; make sure you are taking safety in consideration, you cover the costs of the team members that need to take time off work, be realistic on how much time team members can invest in these days.
If you have a big network and you can convince everyone to contribute a small amount to your team, many small donations could make a big difference. You can give them simple and costless returns for their support for example enrolment to your monthly newsletter or a nice team Christmas card at the end of the season.