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IHSA fundraising?

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  • IHSA fundraising?

    I go to a small, private liberal arts college that has a newly formed IHSA riding team (we are only in our 5th consecutive year of competing.) My college is new (founded in the 1960s) and we have a relatively small endowment; funding from the school is a minimum. We have managed to expand our team to 11 members this year, but we have a lot of strain managing finances, especially for clothing. I would say 7 of the 11 riders have only a schooling helmet or paddock boots - our team has two jackets in reasonable condition but for the most part everybody shares show helmets, breeches, tall boots, show shirts, coats, and gloves. We manage to look acceptable but it's not a stretch to say we could have better fitting clothing - not to mention the scramble between classes if somebody miscalculates who is wearing what.

    Since we are a small school and we are trying to attract new members for WT and the lower levels, it is hard for members to justify buying an entire outfit, especially for those who may not ride/show again after college for a considerable amount of time. Furthermore, tuition for a private liberal arts school is already huge. We can work of lessons by doing barn chores which keeps the price down. School pays us back for show fees and 1 lesson on showing weeks. The rest of the costs seem to be clothing.

    Does anybody have any suggestions for fundraising ideas that have WORKED? We have repeatedly tried bake sales and selling clothes (sweatshirts/pants, shirts) but neither has left us with a big profit. Some other schools do parties but for several reasons our campus doesn't really work for that. I'm just curious how other schools have dealt with this. Thanks!
    the ponies

  • #2
    I remember reading about Georgina Bloomberg creating a website and charity called The Rider's Closet that donates clothing to IHSA teams. Here is the link. Good Luck-I loved riding intercollegiate!



    • #3
      Here are some ideas that my team has had a lot of success with
      -Large chain restaurants have fundraising nights. The team gets a percentage of total sales from people who bring a fundraising flier with them.
      -Check with the smaller locally owned restaurants to see if they will do the same thing. You make a lot more at the smaller businesses since they usually give a larger percentage.
      -Even though clothing sales are tricky, if you have the right items, they can be very profitable.
      -If you have enough horses, host a horse show for the IHSA. Generally the team makes close to $2000 profit at these events.
      -Even though you are a new team a letter drive can help. Send letters about the club to parents and businesses. If you have the manpower and time, personally visit local businesses.
      I am happy making $100 at a fundraiser. Means I started out with more than I had. It also means that the business had enough people from the team there to make them want to do a fundraiser again.
      You can get clothing donated through various organizations. Georgina Bloomberg's The Riders Closet is excellent. She is so helpful in finding items.
      Good Luck!


      • #4
        While I was at Mount Holyoke we had a great fundraiser called Rent-A-Rider. $25/2-hours work. Usually the jobs we got were yard work, help with dinner parties, help moving, organizing etc. etc.
        Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
        Breeding Horses Today, for the Equestrian Sport of Tomorrow.
        Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.


        • #5
          Bikini Clad Car Wash - will only be worth it if its not snowing though
          If only horses would use their athletic powers for good instead of evil. ~ MHM


          • #6
            If you know someone who can donate sports tickets, you could raffle them off on/off campus.

            Letter drives definitely get in money. Personally I didn't like sending letters asking for money, but a lot of people were happy to donate.


            • #7
              At a minimum, just start asking!

              Letter-writing campaigns, sending quarterly e-newsletters, anything to let folks know your team is "out there" and needs help!

              I'm an alum (10 yrs out) and I *never* get a message from my old college team, even tho they are still a very active club sport. If they would just CONTACT me (write/email/beg), I would be happy to send money. The school itself writes every year, but I'm not as likely to give to the "general" fund. I would 100% give whatever I could ($25, $100, whatever) to help support the actual Equestrian Team - whether it be annually, to support a specific rider traveling to Nationals, building new jumps, or anything where I knew what the $$ was being used for. They just need to *ask*. (I sent a check once directly to the club and never got even a thank you [but the check was cashed] - definintely not the way I ran the club "back in the day").

              If you have 5 years of history, that's 30+ riders who have probably graduated and now have jobs. If you could get just $25 from each of them, that's plenty to pay for new show clothes for the beginner riders to share and/or some show/travel fees.

              Other folks have given good ideas locally. Just remember to reach out to the folks that *aren't* near campus, as well!


              • #8
                We're only in our second year,but about the same size as you are.

                Our biggest "fundraisers": annual budget from the school (your funding is actually pretty decent, especially since you can work off lessons with the trainer), donation letters (send to all horse businesses in our county and 2 surrounding counties as well as wineries, other businesses, and some family members), and dues (aka our money).

                For clothes, consider asking local barns if you can put a box in their tack room. Put a sign on the box explaining what it's for and ask for donations. Also include your contact info if someone wants to sell some stuff at a discount.

                Talk to your local tack stores and consignment shops. See if they'll give team members a discount (we get 15% off from one) or allow you contact their sellers and/or negotiate a better deal.

                "Dine-and-donate" programs through local restaurants are also good and easy. Just advertise advertise advertise. They usually don't turn out big money, but it's something.

                We also do concession stands at local shows. Good advertisement as well. Once again, not big money, but it's something. And getting out and talking to local people is really great. At least 1/2 the people "overpay".

                Basically... sell your soul for money, stuff, and services. :-) Start small and work big. We're very happy with a $100 fundraiser and usually satisfied with a $60 one. This spring we're hoping to put together our first big fundraiser. (In theory) It'll be a dinner and silent auction. We'll pair with local wineries and business to fund it and provide items, and a portion of the profits will be going to a local equine non-profit. (One again... it's all about publicity AND profit.)

                Unfortunately, this is an expensive sport, and we can only cut the costs so much. As far as attracting w/t-ers consider two things. 1) Can you compare the costs to another club (we compare our "price" to the crew/rowing team) and 2) can you work with a trainer to get people into a free lesson or 2) Maybe the team pays half and she'll wave the other half, or let you work off some of it? Maybe that will get some people hooked

                Feel free to PM me if you want more info or details on anything. I'd be glad to help in any way I can. Running a team isn't the easiest thing in the world.
                Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                • #9
                  I took lessons at a barn that hosted the IHSA team. I went to their shows and bought their fundraising items. I would have been touched to have been included in a fundraising effort at the barn for something like clothing or helmets .

                  Right now I support a Youth group by manning a table at horseshows (think Hunter/jumper shows, not IHSA shows because you need a broader base of support), other equine events, (sandwiched in between the horse rescue and the Drill team), we sell our items at the feed store with a little display and other venues in the community.

                  Really I think if your team is hosted at a barn you could start there with a flier on the wall asking for donated show clothing or small donation. Then head out into the equine community. Sure you'll get a lot of sorries but at least you'll be getting your team out there and you might get a little help as opposed to nothing at all.
                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                  Incredible Invisible


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                    Sure you'll get a lot of sorries but at least you'll be getting your team out there and you might get a little help as opposed to nothing at all.
                    This is a great point to add... you WILL get turned down, you WILL get no responses, and you may even get the occasional rude person (although they seem rare). The thing to remember is is you don't ask, you end up with nothing. If you ask and they say no, you still have nothing and there's no harm done. But if you ask and they yes, it really benefits your team. Plus, you never know who may be that big donor.

                    Just ask, and ask everyone! It's completely worth it.

                    Good luck!
                    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                    • #11
                      I would do a targeted letter writing campaign. Much easier to get a few $50 - $100 donations than slaving away at a car wash. Worst thing that can happen is that someone will just say no.


                      • #12
                        Are you in an area where people do gardens? Find someone with a pickup truck (that they're willing to get dirty and have washed by your group) and sell loads of "barn litter" for mulch, you deliver and unload. We did this for a while at $20 a load and it was a goldmine ... until one of our princesses complained that she shouldn't be forced to do manual labor for fundraising If your group is more down-to-earth, this might work for you, and it has the advantage that it isn't something every other club is doing at the same time.

                        Also, the "goodie box" we got from CO last year included three show shirts. Don't know what they have planned this year, but every little bit helps!

                        PS--eleven members isn't enough to put on an IHSA show, even if you have a source of horses and a facility--unless you have a lot of volunteer support. Eleven people is not even enough horse-holders for two consecutive classes, never mind grooms in the barn, draw table, scribe for judge, announcer, concessions ... not to mention that your team members really shouldn't be helpers until after they have competed for the day. If you do have a facility, you could consider putting on a small schooling show or fun game day, depending on what your location can suppport, but be aware that you have to check local circuit calendars, local pony club calendars, local 4-H calendars, and so on to avoid conflicts or you will have no competitors.

                        You could consider asking any graduating team members to donate one item of clothing to the club closet. Consider doing a tack-cleaning or braiding concession at a local horse show and consider taking used clothing donations in place of payment. Also, bake sales are useful (tho the returns are feeling the effects of the economy, without a doubt), but our club often goes to a farmer's market or even Sam's club and buys fruit (apples, oranges, bananas) to sell for those who prefer less sugar, and it seems to work out well.
                        "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                        Spay and neuter. Please.


                        • #13
                          One of our biggest FUN-raisers was a biannual schooling show held at our farm. Students typically judged, we ordered generic ribbons, had a wide array of classes, and everyone had fun. It was the best free publicity our organization could get, since so many outside riders came to support it. We also had class sponsors, which I had gotten by soliciting mostly equine related local businesses (Vets, chiropractors, tack shops, boarding barns, etc.). They would donate $25-$100, we would announce their name, hang their banners, and put their info on the show bills. It was good and cheap advertising for them, so they were happy to do it.

                          You might also try hosting a clinician. I don't know if you live in a thriving equine community or not, but it can generate alot of outside interest if it is there. Most clinicians charge for expenses and either a flat fee per day, or by the rider. Don't forget to venture into worlds outside of Hunter/Jumpers. If you are in a dominantly stock breed area, embrace it and host a reining clinic.


                          • #14
                            Program ads at shows we hosted were always our best money maker...

                            If you're not at the point you can host your own show, why not see if some other small programs in your region would co-host with you -- or possibly the region's alumni? That way you can share the expenses and share in the profit.

                            If you want to drop me a PM, I can look through some of my records and see what else I've got (it's been about 4 years since I last coached, but we tried tons of stuff).

                            Good luck!


                            • Original Poster

                              Thank you everyone! I will show my co-captain all of the ideas and we will see what we can make of them. We are the most expensive club/group at our school as we have no intercollegiate sports to speak of (frisbee is the exception)... so we are going to have to rely on fundraising rather than expanded school funds. Thanks again for the responses.
                              the ponies


                              • #16
                                I was the president of my school's IHSA team for 3 1/2 years. These were some of our most successful fundraisers:

                                (1) Local/"fun"/schooling show. Get local businesses to buy ads, sponsor classes, donate prizes and jump decorations, etc. We have had a lot of luck getting people to judge for free or just travel expenses when they find out it is a benefit show. We do a two day show with hunter classes during the mornings/afternoons and gaited and western classes in the evenings. The team usually raises $2-3K from this show, depending on how successful the girls were with getting sponsorships.

                                (2) IHSA show. You can pull this off with 11 team members IF your region is very supportive. The first year we did it, I think we had about 15 active team members. This show is *much* more expensive to run than the fun show due to IHSA requirements for judges, ribbons, etc. I think our team usually makes around $1K on this show.

                                (3) Bikini car wash. Our most successful one was held at a truck stop - we washed semi trucks and had someone on a CB letting the truckers know there were college girls washing trucks!

                                (4) Tupperware, MaryKay, and Pampered Chef were both pretty successful fundraisers for us. You have to change products each year, though, or you run out of buyers. Make sure to hit up professors, secretarial staff, etc.

                                (5) The chain restaurant fundraisers others have mentioned are easy, but I think we only made like $30 from the one we did with Pizza Hut.

                                Good luck!


                                • #17
                                  Ask the schools that are hosting the spring shows if your team can do the concession stand. We made quite a bit of $ doing it one year.


                                  • #18
                                    I had the local college be our jump crew for a show series- they split the days so it wasn't such a big time commmitment. It involved set up the day before, jump crew the day of and clearing the ring after the show. They ran ribbons, took food orders for the judge and announcer and at one show, the captain ran the ingate.

                                    Many members were new to jumping so they learned to walk lines, how to set up a course, what an "oxer" was etc. footages for combinations, etc. The girls seemed to have fun and, as the course designer, it was fun passing on some stuff I have learned over the years.
                                    RIP Triple Take (aka Indiana )


                                    • #19
                                      I was the state coordinator for a gift wrapping project for a special needs charity and we did pretty well with it. I know during Chritmas times, Barnes and Nobles lets various groups do the gift wrapping in their stores for donations. They provide the supplies and the table and the group provides the volunteers.

                                      I organized a Galleria's wrapping schedule and was able to get the local college equestrian team on the schedule. The made over $1000 wrapping some of the day on Christmas eve for 2 years in a row. The negative- the team had to supply the wrap etc. The plus- they could set their own prices - it wasn't just donation like Barnes and Noble stores.
                                      RIP Triple Take (aka Indiana )