In recent years, sports have not only become a popular hobby or past time, but they have also become an important medium for empowering of our nation’s youth; so much so, that it has served as a way to build character, teamwork, and achieve goals. Nonprofit organizations that focus on youth sports, allow audiences outside of the nationally recognized “sports fandom” populations to contribute to the growth of young athletes, which inevitably help youths achieve their athletic aspirations and further develop as individuals. In order to create greater awareness of nonprofit sports organizations and programs, it is important for these nonprofits to not only have strong support systems, but unique programming and consistent outreach strategies that will allow them to stand out from the competition when attempting to engage potential volunteers, individual donors and grantmakers.
When it comes to being successful in the nonprofit industry, specifically sports, the first thing that comes to mind is the ability to clearly convey your mission and vision to your audience.
According to The Huffington Post, it is important to be clear about how you plan to achieve your specific goal once you’ve created it, because having a clear cut mission focused on achieving your goal will ultimately interest the audience and convince them that they should join the cause.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation claims that it has thrived because of their diligence in working toward their strategically crafted goals. What can your Board of Directors say about your sports nonprofit’s mission or organizational goals?
Your nonprofit must take the time to consider how external support will support its ability to deliver on its mission, specify the resources needed, and the measurement or evaluation method it will implement in order to record successful (or unsuccessful) delivery. Grant makers like to see organizations that are looking to make progress towards their mission while complimenting the grantmaker’s mission and goals. How does your nonprofit measure up?
For example, if a nonprofit wants to raise funds for the purpose of supplying athletic equipment to youth sports teams in poor neighborhoods, they should clearly explain that they are looking for donors who can supply new or used equipment, or even a monetary donation that will go towards the purchase of equipment. If you represent a new nonprofit organization and are unfamiliar with tools for assessing social impact, I suggest that you visit The Foundation Center’s Tools and Resources for Measuring Social Impact (TRASI).
Another important aspect of success in sports nonprofits is the willingness to serve as a coach or mentor for the young community. By distinctly advertising that you want to aid in the development of young athletes, you are creating a positive image for your nonprofit and those who volunteer. In an article by Blue Avocado Magazine, Janice Clark mentions that, “Every kid deserves a coach,” because local community organizations are often the first mentor that young athletes encounter. In addition, she stresses the importance of building a strong volunteer base that can excel at mentoring young athletes in the community by providing them with an ideal role model for their future.
For example, Mike Gonzaga is a boxing club volunteer who mentors 23 people suffering from social issues with drugs, alcohol, and gangs. Because of his mentorship, he has taught several young trainees that being a professional will not last forever, but being a grown man will.
As a volunteer, sometimes you will never know how much your mentorship will pay off. Clay Council, a former community baseball club volunteer, was asked to be the pitcher by his former trainee Josh Hamilton (from the MLB), who was set to participate in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium. By having volunteers with the willingness to help others develop into better athletes and individuals, people will begin to notice your work and make an effort to contribute to the cause.
The final characteristic that is crucial to the success of a sports nonprofit is a partnership. If you find your nonprofit struggling to strengthen its brand, a strategic partnership can serve as an important tool for public awareness. According to an article written by Elizabeth Chung for Classy.org, partnership provides an opportunity for increased brand exposure through the implementation of cross-promotion. This includes featuring each other’s organization via websites, social channels, or in regular communications with the community.
Partnerships can also help address a nonprofit’s pain points, which leads to enhancements in operations and services. In order to achieve greater success, it is important that your nonprofit partners with an organization that shares a similar target market (donor personas) to yours. For example, as a sports nonprofit, it is crucial that you partner with an organization such as a professional sports team, or possibly a sporting-goods company. Overall, partnerships provide several benefits for sports nonprofit organizations, such as improvements in efficacy, impact, and sustainability.
When considering the current status of sports organizations in the lives of young children, it is important to know that they serve as a platform for social good in the community. In order to relay that message, it is very important to be actively engaged in the community and have a clearly defined purpose for your organization—it won’t only bring a positive image to the community, it will bring a positive image to your brand.