The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) encourages youth baseball/softball organizations, teams and leagues to utilize best practices related to non-profit management to become self-sustaining and effective.
BTF recommends the many free and low-cost resources provided by the Foundation Center. It’s free webinar, “Introduction to Fundraising Planning,” is an excellent guide to the better understanding of fundraising options and the importance of planning to set priorities.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) encourages youth baseball/softball organizations, teams and leagues to utilize best practices related to non-profit management to become self-sustaining and effective.
BTF recommends the many free and low-cost resources provided by the Foundation Center. It’s free webinar, “Before You Seek a Grant: A Checklist for New Nonprofits,” is perfect for those thinking about becoming a 501(c)(3) or newly-established organizations.
What is an Operating Budget
An operating budget is a summary of the sources and amount of revenue (or income) and expenses (or costs) known or expected for the operation of an organization, program or facility for a given time period, usually 12 months. Preparing and monitoring a budget is an essential tool for an organization’s planning and decision-making process. Plus, when seeking grants or donations, have a prepared, formal budget is an indication to the potential donor that an organization has solid leadership and capacity.
Revenue or Income
For a youth baseball/softball organization or program, common sources of revenue/income may include:
- Player registration fees
- Donations from individuals, businesses
- Proceeds from sponsorships (i.e. outfield fence signs)
- Proceeds from concessions/merchandise sales
- Proceeds from a fundraising event or activity
- Grants from local foundations or corporations
- Budget allocation from the applicant’s general fund, as in the case when the applicant is a municipality, governmental agency or school district
- Tournament proceeds
Expenses or Costs
Common expenses/costs to operate a youth baseball/softball program may include:
- Umpires wages
- Coaches wages
- Coaches/volunteer training
- Volunteer recognition, t-shirts, supplies, etc.
- Player and training equipment
- Advertising/promotion expenses (i.e. lawn signs, printing flyers, newspaper ad, etc.)
- Website and social media development
- Fundraising expenses
- Concessions/merchandise inventory
- Field and facility rental, permit fees
- Insurance – for players or facilities
- League dues
- Tournament fees
- Field/facility maintenance costs including staff, materials, supplies, equipment, equipment repair or annual work such as cleaning, painting, fence and bleacher repairs, concession stand cleaning, etc.
- Field maintenance equipment and repairs
- Legal fees or or other professional fees
- Office supplies and expenses: postage, shipping, telephone, etc.
- Loan payment or mortgage
- Storage fees
- Awards, trophies
- Special event costs – catering, facility rental, etc.
- Bank fees
- Restroom rental, expenses, supplies, cleaning
Required Support Documentation for a BTF Grant Request
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) application process requires that each applicant submit a current, annual operating budget. The annual operating budget should show the income and expenses it usually or expects to receive or incur on an annual basis.
BTF grants provide funding for special projects that will support incremental (i.e. new or additional) programming. BTF grants are not provided for annual, usual operating costs. Therefore, when applying for a BTF grant, the operating budget IS NOT the project budget for which a grant is requested. Examples: 1) a BTF grant should not be listed as a potential source of income; 2) the construction costs of a new field should not be incorporated into the operating budget (unless the organization constructs a new field every year, which is unlikely.)
BTF provides an operating budget template that can be used by youth baseball/softball organizations or by larger organizations that offer a youth baseball/softball program.
When completing the form, remember to enter the organization name and budget year at the top of the form. Feel free add rows and include comments as needed to clearly and accurately reflect the applicant’s operating budget and line items. However, please DO NOT delete rows: if cash funding is not expected, budgeted or needed for a particular line item or from a particular source, indicate a zero “0” in the Amount column.
- The organization does pay for field maintenance staffing costs, indicate a zero “0” for that line item.
- The organization does not receive grants to operate each year, indicate a zero “0” for that line item.
Operating Budgets of Non-baseball/softball Organizations
In some cases, the applicant may need to submit an operating budget for its entire organization as well as an operating budget for its youth baseball/softball program.
Types of organizations that fall into this category include:
- a municipal government
- a school district
- a youth sports organization that provides a variety of sports programs
- a youth service agency that provides a variety of services and programs
- an organization that that operates facilities but does not operate a program
For larger organizations providing multiple services, a detailed, operating budget for the entire agency is not necessary; a one-page, summary budget, showing the basic categories of revenue and expenses is sufficient. This type of organization may want to provide its athletic or sports/recreation department budget instead of a city or school district budget. In any case, a separate youth baseball/softball program budget is also required.
If the applicant is one that does not directly operate the youth baseball/softball program, the applicant’s youth baseball/softball program budget may be zero or may include only field maintenance costs for example. In any case, the organization should submit its own budget for the program, not the local youth league’s budget.
Operating Budget for Youth Baseball/Softball Organizations
If the applicant is a youth baseball/softball league or organization that does not provide any other non-baseball/softball services or programs, the operating budget is the organization’s entire operating budget.
Field/Facility Maintenance Budgets
For all types of applicants requesting funding for field-related projects (i.e. renovation, construction, lighting) or facility (i.e. indoor practice facility), a detailed, field/facility maintenance budget and plan is required. BTF provides a separate template for this information.
Strategies to Develop a Budget
- Be realistic – Do not expect to operate successfully over the long-term with one or two sources of income: seek income from a variety of sources, using a variety of methods. Identify “must haves” versus “non-essentials.”
- Be organized – Record all expenditures and designate each into a category (i.e. uniforms, field maintenance, office, etc.) Save receipts, invoices, credit card and bank statements. Ask for receipts for cash purchases and label the receipts. Download free budgeting templates and software. Provide receipts to donors and keep copies of donor letters of agreement and payments. Track donations and sponsorships. Handle paperwork regularly; don’t wait until the end of the season or year. Establish formal, organizational policies regarding purchasing that is communicated to everyone with purchasing responsibilities.
- Be inclusive – Seek input from the Board members, parents, coaches, players and volunteers to determine what aspects of the operation are working, needs improvement, etc. Discuss short-term (12-18 months) and long-term (3-5 year) goals. Prioritize projects.
- Be prepared – Gather cost estimates from multiple sources. Negotiate competitive rates with service or material providers. Determine if some items can be accomplished with in-kind resources (i.e. donated labor, materials, services.) Research potential new sponsors or donors:
- individuals, businesses and foundations that support programs for youth, sports, schools, parks, recreation, after-school activities, community development;
- businesses or agencies that offer products and services utilized by your organization (i.e. field materials, concession stand products, grant writing services, volunteers, etc.)
In conclusion, allocating time to prepare and monitor a feasible budget is well-worth the effort. Make budget preparation a priority to ensure continued success and sustainability.
This week I was at a high school that was have issues with their infield. I asked the AD if he new what type of material he was using. He said he didn’t but he paid a contractor to add infield mix to his field a year or two ago, so we dug a hole…
Check out our updated Field Construction & Maintenance Resource Guide!
Musco Lighting, Inc. – BTF Preferred Provider
The Toro Company – BTF Preferred Provider
Laser Leveling – Laser Grading Q&A
Sports Turf Consultation – Hiring a Sports Turf Professional and Construction Company
Diamond Pro – BTF Preferred Provider
– http://diamondpro.com/ (Click on Resources)
Stabilizer Solutions – BTF Preferred Provider
Maintenance & Construction
J&D Turf – BTF Preferred Provider
Murray Cook’s Field & Ballpark Blog – http://groundskeeper.mlblogs.com/2012/02/27/tips-on-designing-a-professional-baseball-field/
Penn State Center for Turfgrass Science – http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/athletic-fields
University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences –
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Walk-ups for baseball and softball fields are often a good option to manage traffic while also allowing for grass in foul territory (softball). This is sometimes necessary to manage surface drainage/grades. Let’s look at two walk-ups. First, the softball field at Ohio Northern University. As you can see these walk-ups are the same width from…
Timing is everything, as they say. A well-planned project includes a detailed, feasible timeline. For the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF), the terms and conditions of a grant award are based on the information provided in the project timeline, so a clear, realistic timeline is a key element of a successful request.
A project timeline, especially for renovation and construction projects, must take many things into consideration:
- What is the scope-of-work and work flow (i.e. what has to happen first, next, last?)
- Is a bid process required? If so, how long will it take to complete?
- How long will the work take to be completed?
- When are the contractors, sub-contractors, volunteers available to start the work?
- Cash flow – When will funding be available from each source? How long does the payment process take? How much will be available and when? Will the vendor/contractor bill us or is payment needed up-front? Once deposited in our account, when will the funds be available? What is the process for accepting a donation or grant by the municipality/school district? How long does it take?
- What are the required construction permits? What is the community approval process? How long will it take to complete?
- What are the potential and likely causes of delays? What happens if the project is delayed? How will a delay affect the availability of funds, contractors, volunteers, materials? What will we do if the project is delayed?
- Given our schedule, when is the best time for the project to take place? How will we accommodate the program/league/games/practice when the field is under construction?
- When do we need the product (i.e. uniforms, player equipment) in hand? What is the shipping or delivery time?
- Given the climate, when is the best time for construction or renovation? What are the chances that inclement weather will delay construction?
- Are the materials, products readily available, in-stock?
- Is the timeline realistic or too ambitious? Can we adhere to this timeline? Have we allowed enough time for likely delays? What are the chances of everything being completed in our “best case scenario”?
For grant requests to BTF, the project timeline must also coincide with the review cycle for which your organization has applied.
Grant Review Process
BTF grants are awarded on a quarterly basis. This is a very tight schedule from a grant making standpoint; once a request is submitted, BTF has little time to work with an applicant to sort out undecided or incomplete information. Therefore, an applicant must provide a detailed, realistic timeline that coincides with the review cycle if the request is to be seriously considered.
Please review the following BTF Grant Process:
|Review Cycle||The last date a request may be submitted for consideration during the Review Cycle||Requests Are Approved in this month*||If approved, the grant payment process takes place in this month**|
*Subject to change. Grants will not be approved prior to this month and may be delayed. Grants will not be approved on the 1st of these months.
**This is the estimated time frame in which grant payments are disbursed. Grant funds will not be available to the recipient prior to this month.
Once a grant recipient receives notification of the grant award (by email or phone), the following process occurs:
- BTF drafts a letter of agreement which must receive internal approvals. It is then emailed as a pdf to the recipient for signature. – Up to 4 weeks
- The letter of agreement must be reviewed and signed by a person authorized to do so by the recipient. This process may take one day to six weeks, depending upon the type of organization and the approval process (i.e. city council meetings, review by counsel, etc.) The signed letter of agreement must be emailed as a pdf to BTF.
- BTF requests the grant payment internally. – Up to 3 weeks
- BTF express ships the grant payment to the recipient. – 2 days
To summarize, if a BTF grant is awarded, the grant payment process takes a minimum four weeks after notification of the grant award. If a grant is awarded, a recipient should not expect funds available immediately.
Developing an Eligible Project Timeline
BTF grants are awarded and paid in advance, before the start of a project. (Exception: The early, preparation stages such as the design, a bid process, excavation, permitting, etc. associated with a construction project may be completed; however, those costs should not be requested from BTF.) BTF grants are not reimbursement grants. Grant funds are not awarded for past orders, work or expenditures. In other words, a BTF grant is not awarded to pay back an organization for previously incurred expenses.
Please review the following examples of timelines that conflict with the BTF Review & Award Process:
Example 1: Your organization submits a request on January 1st for the January-March review cycle for the purchase of equipment and uniforms. The project timeline indicates that the purchases will take place in February, and the league begins in March. This request will not be considered for funding. Your organization needs to submit a request for for an earlier review cycle.
Example 2: Your organization plans to begin a field renovation project in September. Your organization submits a request for the July-September review cycle. Your request to BTF includes funding for site work scheduled in September as well as other budget items to be completed in December. Your request to fund the site work will not be considered by BTF.
Generally, we suggest that the proposed use of BTF grant funds be scheduled to begin a minimum of 6-8 weeks after the completion of the review cycle. We also suggest that you overestimate the amount of time needed for field-related projects.
Project Timeline Template
The Project Timeline template must be submitted as a part of the BTF request. Use this form to outline the timeline of the project: when it will begin, what work or activities included and when it will end. Do not submit a project management or project schedule calendar or any other document; BTF needs the information in the format provided by the Project Timeline template. And, finally, do not leave this form blank or with “N/A”; all requests must have a project timeline.
The timeline should include all activities related to the project, including the time when the use of equipment, uniforms, field or facility is projected to begin. Specifically indicate the time frame for the work or purchases to be completed with BTF grant funds. For each activity, indicate the month(s) and year it will occur.
A timeline that indicates that a project will begin “as soon as possible” or “when funding is available” is not sufficient.
Refer to the following examples when completing the Project Timeline template:
Example Timeline: Field Renovation
|Complete field construction design and fundraising||December 2017|
|Complete bid process||January-February 2018|
|Excavation, electrical work, water lines||March-May 2018|
|Laser grading, fencing work||June-July 2018|
|Infield construction, irrigation, sodding||August 2018|
|Grow-in period (fertilization, mowing)||September-November 2018|
|Player registration begins||January 2019|
|Field use begins||April 2019|
Example Timeline: Equipment and Uniform Purchase
|Complete fundraising||December 2016|
|Player registration, volunteer recruitment and coaches training||January-February 2017|
|Order equipment and uniforms||February 2017|
|Practice begins (& uniform distribution)||March 2017|
|Games/league play||April-June 2017|
|Tournament season||July 2017|
|Year-end banquet and parent, coaches, player surveys completed||August 2017|
Remember these key notes:
- A proper project timeline takes a lot of planning and thought before the grant-seeking (or fundraising) effort begins. Seek input from all involved and from those with experience with similar projects.
- A BTF grant is not awarded to pay back an organization for previously incurred expenses.
- Specifically indicate the time frame for the work or purchases to be completed with BTF grant funds.
- We suggest that the proposed use of BTF grant funds be scheduled to begin a minimum of 6-8 weeks after the completion of the review cycle.
- We suggest that you overestimate the amount of time needed for field-related projects.
Before submitting a request to BTF, please read the following information about tax-exempt status and legal organizations.
What is the Legal Name of the Applicant?
The legal name of the applicant is the name associated with the EIN (Employer Identification Number) for organizations based in the U.S. (Organizations based outside U.S. should use the name registered with the government.)
Acronyms, nicknames or fundraising campaign names (examples: “XYZLL,” “Field of Dreams Project”) are most likely not legal organization names.
A public school or team should check with its school district to determine the legal name of the applicant. For example: the “X.H.S. Baseball Team” is probably not a legal entity eligible to apply for or accept a grant; the school or school district is most likely the appropriate legal entity eligible to apply for a grant.
Non-profit and Tax-exempt Organizations
An organization applying for a Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) grant must fall into one of the three categories:
- an U.S.-based organization that is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501(c)(3)*
- an organization that is tax-exempt such as a municipal government agency, public school or Indian tribe
- an organization based outside the U.S. that is a registered, non-governmental organization (NGO)
U.S. organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) status and are not a tax-exempt municipality, public school or tribe will not be considered for funding by BTF.
IMPORTANT: An organization that has non-profit certification only from its state will not be considered for funding by BTF.
What is the difference between non-profit and tax-exempt status? Read this information published on the IRS.gov:
Nonprofit status is a state law concept. Nonprofit status may make an organization eligible for certain benefits, such as state sales, property and income tax exemptions. Although most federal tax-exempt organizations are nonprofit organizations, organizing as a nonprofit organization at the state level does not automatically grant the organization exemption from federal income tax. To qualify as exempt from federal income tax, an organization must meet requirements set forth in the Internal Revenue Code. See Types of Tax-Exempt Organizations or Publication 557 for more information.
A 501(c)(3) organization should have in its records a letter of determination from the IRS. The letter of determination looks like this:
Do not mistake this letter with the EIN (Employer Identification Number) assignment letter, which looks like this:
The EIN assignment letter does not confirm 501(c)(3) status! If you are unclear about EINs, learn more from IRS.gov.
IMPORTANT: When submitting a request to BTF, a 501(c)(3) organization must submit a copy of the IRS letter of determination. If your organization does not have this letter, do not submit a request!
If your organization has misplaced its letter of determination, you may request a copy from the IRS.
If your organization has not applied to the IRS for 501(c)(3) designation, it may apply to the IRS.
Tax-exempt organizations, as noted above, do not have 501(c)(3) letters of determination and, therefore, will not submit a letter of determination with the request. BTF does not require a governmental information letter from an applicant in this category. Read more about governmental information letters on IRS.gov.
IMPORTANT FOR ORGANIZATIONS CHARTERED WITH LITTLE LEAGUE, INC.: Organizations chartered with Little League, Inc. cannot use Little League, Inc.’s EIN to create a profile in the BTF Online Application system. Your league must have its own EIN, assigned by the IRS.
However, If your organization has not been recognized on its own by the IRS as a 501(c)(3), has its own EIN assigned, and maintains its charter with Little League, Inc., it has 501(c)(3) status under Little League, Inc.’s group exemption status. If your organization has not been recognized on its own by the IRS as a 501(c)(3), your organization must submit to BTF a letter on letterhead from Little League, Inc. confirming the current status of your league’s charter.
If your organization has been recognized on its own by the IRS as a 501(c)(3), your organization must submit its own letter of determination.
Organizations Based Outside the U.S.
An organization based outside the U.S. must be a registered, non-governmental organization (NGO.) Documentation confirming this status must be provided to BTF upon submission of a request.
IMPORTANT: All documentation must be translated into English before submission to BTF.
Which Organization Should Serve as the Applicant?
Some projects, and related fundraising efforts, are collaborations of multiple organizations. Multiple organizations cannot apply jointly for a BTF grant. We suggest that the non-profit or tax-exempt organization that has the capacity to plan the project, write a grant, oversee the project and use of grant funds serve as the applicant.
Once an organization is selected to serve as the applicant, please note that all responses and documentation required in the request must be related to and provided from that applicant’s point-of-view. For example, if a municipality is the applicant on behalf of the local youth league, the request must provide the municipality’s experience in youth baseball, the municipality’s annual operating budget and annual budget for youth baseball/softball, the municipality’s Board of Directors (or leadership), the municipality’s partnerships related to youth baseball (i.e. relationship to the local league), the municipality’s goals related to youth baseball, fields, etc.
If the applicant organization plans to serve as a pass-through agency (i.e. a 501(c)(3) organization that is applying for and/or accepting grant funds for another beneficiary organization that is not a registered 501(c)(3) for some reason), this relationship must be explained in detail. In addition, the request must contain information and documentation for both organizations.
Remember these important notes:
- The legal name of the applicant is the name associated with the EIN (Employer Identification Number) for organizations based in the U.S.
- When submitting a request to BTF, a 501(c)(3) organization must submit a copy of the IRS letter of determination.
- Municipalities, public schools and Indian tribes are tax-exempt but do not submit a 501(c)(3) letter of determination.
- An organization that has non-profit certification only from its state will not be considered for funding by BTF.
Service organizations such as Rotary and Kiwanis likely have a presence in your community or a nearby community. These service organizations sponsor community events, raise money for local causes, and provide volunteers. Don’t overlook these organizations for grant opportunities as well. Many of these types of organizations can provide local grant opportunities that could help…
Grant requests need strong supporting documentation to demonstrate thorough planning and to ensure that the project budget and request is based on current, realistic information.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) requires written cost estimates for all budget items listed in each request.
A written cost estimate is not a document that your organization prepares. It is a document provided to you by the company that will provide goods or services. Any reputable company will provide a properly prepared, formal cost estimate. In business, an estimate might also be referred to as a quotation, quote or bid. Be sure to understand the difference between a cost estimate and a quote.
For a BTF grant request, written cost estimates must include:
- the date of the estimate and how long the estimate remains valid (if applicable)
- the company name and contact information for the vendor, contractor, engineer, etc.
- detailed specifications, quantities, descriptions, etc. for products and services
For field or facility related projects, the estimate should include:
- the location or name of the proposed field or facility
- a detailed scope-of-work
- the manufacturer name, specifications, quantities of product or materials
- what is or is not included in the estimate (i.e. installation, site preparation, delivery, etc.)
- accurate field or facility dimensions and drawings if applicable
For requests including playing equipment, uniforms, training equipment, field or maintenance equipment, the estimate should include:
- itemized list of items
- quantity and cost per item
- brand names
- model numbers
- shipping/handling costs
- sales tax (if applicable)
In the BTF Online Application system, attach the cost estimates in the Attachment section where instructed.
Cost estimates are also useful to determine the value of in-kind funding and resources that will be used to complete a project (i.e. funding that is not cash — in other words, donated or discounted labor, products or materials.) A cost estimate will provide the retail cost of a product or service (i.e. how much you would pay in cash if you were not receiving a donation.)
In closing, whether for a grant application or not, it is a good business practice to ask for written cost estimates for all major purchases or services so that your organization knows exactly what it is purchasing, what service will be rendered, a good idea of how much it will cost, as well as the terms and conditions.