You’ve seen the plaques up at many a local business. On each one is a picture. The sun is bright, the grass is green, and two rows of kids, decked out in identical uniforms, smile for the camera. A simple black letterboard displays their team name. The plaque says something like “The Junior Eagles, Proudly Sponsored by” and then the name of the business you’re standing in.
We know that it’s going to be a while before we see another game of baseball or football played, but sponsorship doesn’t stop with youth sports, there are lots of opportunities out there that extend into the arts and other great causes.
That said lots of businesses sponsor youth sports teams. You might be wondering any number of things about the process, the reasons behind why, and the benefits. I’m here to answer those questions for you.
How being a sponsor helps you
Let’s start with the most pertinent question: Why are all of those businesses so eager to sponsor a team? Beyond the time and the money, it’s weirdly specific. There’s a bunch of good reasons to do so.
The first and most obvious is that it’s an inexpensive source of local advertising. Whenever the team plays, your name is going to come up in some context. In contrast to other forms of advertising, it’s completely non-intrusive. While people can get annoyed with commercials and the like, no one has ever been mad that a little league team had safety equipment.
Going hand-in-hand with the basics of advertising to a potential customer base is a subtler form of advertising. By supporting a youth sports team, you’re signaling to the community that you’re a part of it. You’re letting everyone around you know that you’re not just a car dealership, you’re a good neighbor. This kind of advertising will net you customers, but more importantly, it will net you good relationships with community leaders and other local businesses. These relationships can be beneficial to everyone down the road.
Lastly, your sponsorship can be a tax incentive. If the sports league is a registered nonprofit, your sponsorship can be cast as a charitable donation. A small benefit, sure, but you’re helping your bottom line at the same time as building up your brand.
Bear in mind that although youth sports has been suspended thanks to COVID-19, there are still youth organizations that need sponsoring. A lot of art classes and museums are providing essential enrichment to kids who are stuck indoors, and they could always use your help. Plus, it’s nice to do something at a time when so many are feeling helpless.
What a sponsor does
Hopefully you’re all in on sponsoring a team (or, y’know, a museum) by now, so you need to know exactly what your duties are. Basically, once you pick your team, you give a set amount of money to them. Most teams will have differing levels of sponsorship, either a subscription model where it’s a set amount, or allowing you to set your own number. Chances are, you will be able to find organizations who work on whatever model is best for you. As with most things, determine how much you want to pay, then go find a team who is willing to take that sum. Trust me, it’s not a difficult search.
Your money then helps pay for the team to operate. It will buy the obvious, like uniforms, bats, balls, whatever they need to play the sport in question. Oftentimes it will buy time on the field, as not all places are free to play at. It’ll even help supply concessions and defray insurance costs. In short, your money is getting these kids on the field, court, pitch, or arena, and keeping them as safe as possible while out there.
Most importantly, a sponsor helps kids play sports. There are tons of benefits for kids, and by extension, the community. Not only does it result in tangible health benefits for participants, it can even help academic achievements. One study found that a large percentage of student athletes were A students. Keeping the next generations healthy in body and mind helps everyone, and youth athletics are a significant part of that.
Source (tons of benefits): https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-And-Sports-061.aspx
While the benefits to the child are slightly different depending on what sort of class (painting versus dance, for example), kids benefit from having their bodies and minds engaged. So, while so many are stuck indoors, helping provide enrichment is of a huge benefit.
How one becomes a sponsor
This is the easiest part. All you need to do is start Googling local teams or progams and pick from there. Starting with a team that your own kid plays for is a perfectly fine way to go, or ask friends and family. You could take into account what sport is most popular in your area, or what sport your customer base tends to like the most. Really, whatever criteria you want to use is fine. There are far more teams out there who need sponsorship and don’t have it than the other way around.
littleleague.org, the grandaddy of them all, has detailed information on their site on how to help. Even if you don’t choose a team from that organization, the site can give you the lay of the land in terms of what to expect with this new and welcome responsibility. When in doubt, call the team you’ve selected and ask questions. They’ll be thrilled to hear from you.
Reaching out to a class or museum is done in much the same way. Do some Googling, or look on your social media accounts. There will be people out there doing good for kids. Pick one and help!
So what are you waiting for?
Sponsoring a local children’s sports team is the kind of no brainer decision you hope to see more often. It’s an extremely small investment on your end—somewhere in the neighborhood of a single car payment—and it pays dividends in so many ways. Perhaps best of all, when you come into work, you’re going to pass that picture of your smiling team and know that you’re a big reason that they’re smiling so big.
And that’s pretty cool.