Drive the New Era of College Sports with Digital Fundraising
Last year’s Supreme Court decision allowing NCAA student-athletes to legally monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL) sent shockwaves through the sports world. As a result, NIL collectives quickly emerged in this lucrative market, and the current list of 161 collectives is only growing.
Like many organizations operating in this space, running a collective involves many moving parts like managing relationships with boosters, securing large donations, and operating within the NCAA’s guidelines. But these groups also have to navigate relationships between universities and major stakeholders which can overshadow bringing new opportunities to student-athletes.
Building a digital fundraising strategy can help recenter the focus, bringing the emphasis back to student-athletes. In this guide, we’ll cover:
- NIL Collective Fundraising: Why Does It Matter?
- 4 Common Sports Fundraising Pain Points
- How Digital Fundraising Boosts Revenue and Opportunities for Student-Athletes
- Other Ways to Use Tech in the Sports World
While collecting funding is one of every NIL collective’s top priorities, there are debates about the best ways to gather these funds. Let’s get started.
NIL Collective Fundraising: Why Does It Matter?
NIL collectives rely on funds from boosters, businesses, alumni, fans, and other supporters to give student-athletes the opportunities they need to profit from their NIL. For example, they might use their pool of funds to set up social media endorsements or organize meet-and-greets and autograph signing events.
NIL collectives are not the only entity concerned with college athletes and their financial success. Some of the other major stakeholders include:
- The student-athletes themselves
- Coaches and coaches’ associations
- Athletic departments
- Student Athlete Empowerment (SAE) groups
NIL collectives help to connect these various stakeholders together to benefit the student-athletes. One of the best ways to unite these stakeholders in support of student-athletes is by organizing digital fundraisers that bring in the revenue that supports the opportunities NIL collectives create for these athletes.
4 Common NIL Collective Fundraising Pain Points
NIL collectives sometimes struggle to fundraise effectively, relying heavily on the large contributions from brand deals and corporate sponsorships. But a lacking fundraising strategy can have negative impacts on athletes and other stakeholders. Without giving fans opportunities to support their favorite players, athletes miss out on key opportunities to build their personal brands.
Some of the common problems NIL collectives face while fundraising include:
- Saturation in the NIL collective space. As the space for NIL opportunities grows, more and more similar organizations will be created. Many of these groups fundraise in donor pools with significant overlap. If there is more than one collective dedicated to the same college athletics program, fundraising can be very competitive.
- Friction with university athletic departments. The relationships between athletic departments and NIL collectives can be difficult. Ambiguity around fundraising activities can frustrate the schools that want to keep tabs on how NIL collectives source and use funds. After all, if the collective makes a misstep, the public will associate their mistake with the university.
- Busy schedules that leave little time for fundraising. NIL agents and leaders don’t always have much time to devote to fundraising. They may need to spend a significant portion of their time pursuing corporate deals or sponsorships for student-athletes. While this funding is critically important, collectives risk missing out on other fundraising opportunities like organizing donor events or peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
- Restrictions on booster-led collectives. The NCAA drafted new guidelines limiting what boosters and booster-led collectives are allowed to use funds for. This rule is meant to combat issues related to recruiting and poaching players, but it could also lead to some NIL collectives losing funding from important boosters. For NIL collectives without a diversified revenue stream made up of various levels of donors and fundraising opportunities, their athletes lose opportunities.
These obstacles make traditional fundraising difficult for NIL collectives and can negatively impact student-athletes’ success during their limited time enrolled in college athletics programs. However, with digital fundraising, these groups can overcome these issues and devote their time and attention back to the athletes.
How Digital Fundraising Boosts Revenue and opportunities for Student-athletes
Here are a few ways a robust digital fundraising campaign can bring your athletes more opportunities to grow their online visibility:
- Make fundraisers stand out. Creating campaigns that are customized to your supporters will help you stand out from your competitors in the college sports world. Offering various membership and subscription options will boost their loyalty to your brand. To reward your most loyal supporters, offer benefits like discounts on tickets or admission to exclusive events.
- Hold more transparent fundraisers. Fundraisers can lack detailed recordkeeping, making it difficult to track where funds came from. With digital fundraising, your team can automatically track who made a donation, when they donated, and why. You could reference whether a donor made a monthly payment towards their subscription to their favorite player or bought a branded hat.
- Create more time-efficient fundraisers. With digital fundraising, you can create campaigns that don’t require constant work from you and your team. With a subscription or recurring donation program, you’ll need to initially devote time and effort to form a solid supporter base. Then, you can stand back and watch a steady revenue stream pour in each month. Look for a digital fundraising tool with built-in capabilities like timed ticketing for donor events and POS capabilities for merchandise.
- Diversify revenue streams. Relying too heavily on a handful of major donors can be disastrous—after all, losing any one of these key donors could have major financial impacts on NIL collectives and student-athletes. Diversifying funding with digital fundraising can help engage donors at all levels through subscription donations, peer-to-peer fundraisers, and donation drives. With fun fan events, your team can create opportunities to boost revenue and reach new donors.
Starting from scratch with a new digital fundraising strategy and finding tools that work well can be time-consuming and frustrating. But digital fundraising software can facilitate this change and house all of the tools and capabilities you need to kick off a digital fundraising strategy. Doubleknot’s NIL digital fundraising tool has features like subscription donations, peer-to-peer fundraising, and CRM integrations, making it one of the most robust digital fundraising solutions.
Other Ways to Use Tech in the sports world
Digital fundraising solutions aren’t just for NIL collectives. Athletic departments, coaches, and private sports camps can take advantage of digital fundraising and other sports management solutions as well:
- Collect funds for new sports equipment. High-quality summer sports camp equipment is often expensive and needs to be frequently replaced. You might even be getting by with equipment that is far beyond its prime. Launching a digital fundraiser can bring you the funds you need to purchase new equipment and help campers get the most out of your camp.
- Automate registration and administrative processes. Streamline administrative processes by hosting camp registration online. Design custom registration forms to eliminate questions and improve user experiences. You can also design customized questions tailored to your unique camp programming.
- Market your sports program. To grow your camp, you’ll need to expand to new audiences. Partner with a team of marketing professionals to promote your sports camp online, leveraging powerful social media marketing strategies.
Running athletic programs can be expensive and logistically demanding. However, investing in a digital fundraising tool or sports camp management solution can help lower costs for participants and iron out frustrating logistical details. Plus, you’ll have more time to get back to doing what you love most about your job rather than worrying about funding and logistics.
With NIL collectives accelerating a new era in college sports, it can be difficult to navigate for coaches, players, and NIL collectives alike. Investing in a digital fundraising solution will help bring the focus of NIL programs back to where it’s supposed to be: supporting student-athletes with quality opportunities.
Interested in learning how we are helping the college sports world? Contact Doubleknot to schedule a demo today!
If you want to learn more about how tech solutions can benefit the sports world, check out these additional resources:
- Leveraging Tech to Overcome Sports Camp Obstacles: A Guide. If you run a sports camp, you know how often issues can crop up. Learn how you can use sports camp management software to overcome these challenges.
- Picking Your Sports Camp Software: Our 2022 Recommendations. There are so many factors to consider when choosing the right sports camp software. These recommendations can help you find the solution that meets all of your camp’s needs.
- Understanding Youth Protection in Higher Education: A Guide. As a coach, your top priority is your athletes’ safety and well-being. This guide to youth protection on college campuses can help you find the tools to abide by the guidelines that keep campers safe.