Saturday August 11th:
- Chicago Cubs Equipment Day Collection at Wrigley Field
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Equipment Day Collection and Check Presentation at Angel Stadium
- Private Mets Field Maintenance Education Clinic at Citi Field
Sunday August 12th:
- Philadelphia Phillies Equipment Day Collection at Citizens Bank Park
- Tampa Bay Rays Equipment Day Collection at Tropicana Drive
All you Cubs, Angels and Phillies fans bring your gently used baseball and softball equipment to the ballparks this weekend to benefit local programs in your area!
It’s tournament time for youth baseball and softball leagues around the U.S. marking the end of another season. Soon, it will be time to start planning for 2013 (heavy sigh…) Before another season sneaks up on us, we would like to offer a few ideas and resource information about a variety of topics that you might find helpful in the operation of your organization. Some will be obvious and commonly used, but we think everything is worth sharing as a refresher or for those who are new to the team.
To kick things off, let’s start at the very beginning: promotion and advertising.
No matter what methods of promotion and advertising you use, fine-tune the message. Emphasize your organization’s accomplishments, number of kids served, retention rate, number of years in operation, what’s new and improved in the program, what’s new and improved at the facility, why it’s good for kids, why it’s good for parents, why it’s such a great program. Brag a little bit.
The Ever Popular School Flyer
Almost every organization we talk to provides flyers to local schools. Who has better access to kids and parents than schools, right? Don’t forget to give a few flyers to your Board members and volunteers to post around town on community bulletin boards in grocery stores, “big box” stores, coffee shops, restaurants, the post office, apartment complexes, churches, etc.
Support Local Business
Local businesses may have more to offer than just financial contributions. A business might be willing to provide space, coupons and freebies for a special registration day to drive foot traffic into its locations. Kick around a few ideas with your sponsors. Where are the popular places that families go on the weekends? This also might be a good way to attract new sponsors that may want to help your program but cannot offer a cash donation.
While we are on the topic of sponsors, ask your sponsors to include your organization in its existing advertising efforts in the newspaper, radio or on TV (i.e. “Proud Sponsor of …” or “Register today for our favorite league, …!”)
On the Radio (and TV)
Many local radio and TV stations announce community happenings. Don’t forget to provide your registration information in advance. Take the time now to create a database of all local media outlets and contact info for community announcements. Email a brief press release. Keep it simple with the who, what, where, when and how.
Bring A Friend
Offer a discount or small gift to past players who bring a friend who hasn’t played before. Give brand new players and parents a bit of recognition (i.e. a button, sticker or patch) to welcome them into the league and make them feel special.
The New Word-of-Mouth
We all are becoming more Internet and social media savvy (whether we like it or not.) Include email addresses in your player and parent database. Create a Facebook page and Twitter account to help inform your families of registration periods, schedules, practices, clinics, etc. Encourage them to pass along the info to other families. Existing players and parents are the best promoters!
Actively Seeking… Partners
Other non-profits and youth service organizations often look for new ways to engage children with sports and recreation. These organizations might include churches, public housing complexes, Boys & Girls Clubs, after-school programs, etc. Make a list of organizations in your community and schedule a brief phone call or coffee meeting during the off-season. Talk about how your organizations might help each other. What do they need that your organization can help with? Invite these organizations to form a team for your league or invite their membership to a free clinic during the winter months.
Make it easier by sharing a few of these tasks with Board members and volunteers. Promoting the program is a team effort!
What other methods of promotion and advertising work for your organization? Please share!
Check back here for more ideas and info in the coming months.
Fundraising is essential for the successful operation of non-profits. Fundraising can be completed in a multitude of ways — from 5K runs, silent auctions and galas to bake sales, car washes and even cold calls.
Non-profits in Major League markets may also turn to MLB Clubs for support. MLB Clubs support many worthwhile causes including health, recreation and education programs. Each team strives to make an impact on the community in which they are located and most provide fundraising opportunities to local organizations.
These opportunities come in many forms, but the most common is “in-kind donations,” of autographed items, game tickets or team merchandise for use as auction and raffle prizes. Other fundraising opportunities include the availability of an informational booth at the stadium for organizations to distribute information and allowing groups to work at the concession stands to earn a portion of the proceeds.
If you would like to learn more about opportunities with nearby MLB Club, here are the steps:
- Visit your MLB home team’s community page. Easiest way is to Google, for example, “the Boston Red Sox Community.” The Community page will tell you everything the Club is doing within the community: the causes they support, the events they host, and the fundraising opportunities they offer.
- Search. Look for the following key words or sections on the community page: “fundraising opportunities,” “in-kind donations,” or anything of the like. Each Club page and opportunities will be different so it’s going to take a little digging around.
- Locate. Find the opportunity that fits your organization’s needs or criteria.
- Apply! If applicable, fill out the electronic form. Most Clubs will ask for the basics about your organization; EIN (federal tax identification number,) year it was started, the type of organization and so forth. You’ll also need to provide a main contact and their information as well as details pertaining to the type of event you are having. Of course, be sure to read through the specific requirements, rules for application, and guidelines completely before submitting your application.
As challenging and rewarding fundraising is, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that your favorite MLB heavy hitters may be willing to help you out. Head over to your team’s community page, do a little digging around and submit your organization for an opportunity. Who knows? You may end up with the hottest item at this year’s auction.
Once in a lifetime. That is the simplest way to describe my Tuesday afternoon.
This past Tuesday I accompanied BTF’s Senior Grant Coordinator, Meghan Chisholm, to Philadelphia, PA to help the Phillies present their 2012 Equipment Day checks to Tioga United Youth Baseball and Oak Lane Wildcats.
As our rental car picked up speed on the New Jersey Turnpike and we made our way into downtown Philly, the anticipation accelerated. We had a few moments to spare before having to be at the Phillies Administrative offices so we killed it by driving by the Liberty Bell and grabbing a quick bite to eat at historic Reading Market.
At 6:00 pm we pulled into lot P of Citizens Bank Park and put the Chevy in park. Meghan and I walked over to the offices, met our community relations contact and entered the Phillies media room, where, of course, a photo was necessary.
It was here that we got to personally meet the Equipment Day grant recipients. The excitement and gratitude they exuded was contagious. We did a run through of the pre-game ceremony: the presentation of awards to local RBI coaches of the year, the honorary award presented to Chase Utley, and the check presentation by BTF. As the lineup was completed, we made our way through the underbelly of the stadium and out onto the field. Take a breath. Take a moment. Take it all in.
I stood back and snapped pictures of the excited and nervous grant recipients and laughed to myself as they each appeared on the big screen looking over the park. As they smiled from ear to ear, accepted their awards and shook hands over the checks, the feelings were electric. It was a moment that will be difficult to forget.
It was truly special to see something go full circle. I witnessed the initial selection of the recipients, ordered the oversized checks, helped coordinate with the Phillies, and saw the acceptance of the checks that symbolized new equipment or uniforms or field equipment. Being able to see the entire cycle gave me a refreshed perspective, one that made it all mean so much more.
Elizabeth here, reporting on an important topic: volunteerism.
This past weekend, I volunteered at a Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) U.S. Regional tournament, in Newark, New Jersey. Each regional tournament determines the softball, junior baseball and senior baseball winner that will represent their region in the RBI World Series, scheduled for July 31st – August 12th in Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Minnesota.
One of RBI’s missions is to increase participation and interest in baseball and softball among underserved youth. The New York RBI team needed volunteers to assist with the weekend-long baseball and softball tournaments happening in metro New York. A blast email was sent out to MLB interns, explaining the tournament, specific needs and asking to fill these roles. Four MLB interns were present on Sunday. I was tasked with keeping score, stocking the dugouts with supplies, and providing directions or instructions for participants. There were countless other volunteers who assisted in their roles as athletic trainers, coaches, tournament organizers and concession stand workers.
Many BTF grant recipients have success through the use of hard working volunteers. Tasks include: field maintenance, game organization, travel arrangements and the many other details that fall upon a sports league. Recruiting and retaining volunteers is difficult, yet valuable. As stated by Katie Ringel, the Coordinator for RBI, “recruiting and maintaining a reliable volunteer corps is crucial to the success of almost any non-profit organization. Utilizing volunteers not only increases the community impact of the organization; it also allows more of the financial resources to be used for the overall mission of the organization.”
Below are a few tips, with some help from The Girl Scouts of America:
- Be specific. Tell people what you want them to do before you recruit them.
- Be honest. Confirm the time and effort the role will entail.
- Define the situation. Provide information regarding any training, supervision and support.
- Identify the positives.
- Just ask – send out a blast email, reach out to your local college or high school, ask your neighbors, post fliers or call those in your address book.
From my own experience, the act of volunteering has always been enlightening. I have gained access to new organizations, met new friends and learned countless lessons. Ms. Ringel continues, “If you are able to demonstrate how volunteers will clearly and directly contribute to the success of the organization, they are far more likely to feel a connection that will give them reason to come back.”
If you’re in need of volunteers, remember the tips above and if you want to volunteer, consider reaching out to a local youth baseball or softball team or organization!
The 83rd All-Star Game took place this past Tuesday evening at the Royals Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Although the National League beat the American League 8-0 the overall, the event was anything but a shutout. This All-Star Game is being touted as one of the most successful due to the outpouring of fan attendance and social media involvement. But a lesser known, yet equally successful branch of All-Star week, were the numerous community based events and improvements that happened.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) was thrilled, excited and proud to be a part of it. We made our way out to Kansas City late last Thursday to kick off All-Star week with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Cleveland Park, the diamond of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City (BGCKC) which serves the Kansas City branch of RBI. BTF awarded BGCKC a $50,000 grant to further renovate the fields which had been built in 2004. In a partnership that had never happened before, the MO-KAN chapter of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) evaluated the facility, pointed out the areas that needed to be renovated and dedicated volunteers and numerous hours to the renovation. The ribbon cutting event, in which our new oversized (and I mean oversized) BTF scissors were put to good use, took place during the Jr. RBI Classic, a youth baseball and softball tournament.
As Friday afternoon comes to an end and MLB returns to a post All-Star Game calm, we are proud to look back on such a successful event. Perhaps some of you feel proud of your National League for whooping the American League, or maybe some of you are reliving a great play made by your favorite player, but for us we are proud of the lasting legacy that the All Star Game will have on Kansas City. This pride, unlike the streamers at Kauffman Stadium, will take much longer than a week to dissipate.
It was yet another busy BTF weekend, including media events and Equipment Day collections!
On Friday evening, Executive Director Cathy Bradley was at Marlins Park to present Equipment Day checks to the Marlins grant recipients, City of Miami Parks & Recreation and Miami-Dade County Parks & Recreation and a third to past BTF grant recipient, Miramar PAL. It was also BTF’s first trip to the new ballpark!
Also that Friday evening, at another field lighting ceremony at Jaycee Park in Owatonna, MN, BTF Senior Grant Coordinator, Meghan Chisholm, was attending a celebration. The Owatonna Huskies Bullpen was awarded a more than $45,000 BTF grant for the installation of Musco Lights on its youth baseball facility. The newly installed lights will increase player participation and availability to more than 500 players in the area. BTF’s Executive Director, Cathy Bradley stated, “field availability is often a challenge for many youth baseball and softball programs, and we believe that the lights will provide additional opportunities for play.”
It was another celebration filled with community supporters, sponsors and donors and clearly lots of smiles.
Happy 4th of July!
Happy summer! The first official day of summer was last Wednesday. Temperatures here in New York City reached a scorching 97 degrees and as the heat wave blazed on, BTF thought it may be a good idea to review some key tricks and tips for remaining cool and safe while playing in the heat.
Hopefully everyone knows that playing sports or even simply being active in excessive heat can be very dangerous. In extreme heat, dehydration, heat exhaustion and electrolyte imbalances are more likely to occur. Here are a few tips and guidelines for enjoying the sports you love in the heat that can make it challenging.
- Drink the right amount of fluids – on a hot day be sure to drink more H2O than usual: before, during and after your activity.
- Replace lost electrolytes – these are salts and minerals of your body that sweat often removes. It’s essential to replace them either with salty foods or sports drinks like Gatorade.
- Wear the right kind of clothing – be sure to dress yourself in lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
- Always wear sunscreen – simple as that. Make sure it’s of 30 SPF or higher and sweat proof.
- Listen to your body – if you notice headaches, fatigue or nausea, take a breather, drink some water and cool down.
As the school year comes to an end and sports games and outdoor activities pick up, be sure to play heat and sun smart!
Besides all those baseball and softball games coming your way, so are more BTF/MLB Equipment Days! This past Friday, the Boston Red Sox collection happened at Fenway Park and lasted throughout the weekend. The Miami Marlins will host their collection drive this Saturday 6/30 and the Atlanta Braves will close out the month with their collection on Saturday 6/30 and Sunday 7/1. The BTF Facebook and Twitter pages are chock full of updates, pictures, and further details so be sure to check them out.
The success of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund is due, in large part, to the MLB Clubs’ support and promotion of the Fund and its initiatives. To recognize those Clubs that demonstrate exceptional support of the fund each year, the Board of Directors created the BTF Award of Appreciation.
Wednesday evening in East York, Toronto is one that will not soon be forgotten.
BTF grant recipient East York Baseball Association celebrated the completion of the field renovation and field lighting installation at Stan Wadlow Park. BTF Executive Director, Cathy Bradley, Blue Jays pitchers Ricky Romero and Drew Hutchison, along with Blue Jays alumni and staff were on hand for the official unveiling. Romero noted, “It would mean a lot, (having field lights) especially for me. I never wanted to leave the baseball diamond. I could be there 24/7, and to this day it’s something that I don’t take for granted. Two extra hours means a lot more work.”
East York Baseball Association received a $42,270 grant from BTF and an additional $150,000 investment from the Jays Care Foundation toward the installation of field lights. The facility has served as the primary location for the Blue Jays Academy Rookie League. The program provides a summer baseball camp that operates in 40 neighborhoods and serves more than 900 children. The lights will allow for two additional hours of play each night, increasing the participation of kids throughout the summer. As summarized by Hutchinson, “It’s awesome; you don’t have to go home early. You just stay and keep playing.”
As highlighted in the video, the ceremony included speeches to the enthusiastic crowd, followed by an on-field clinic hosted by Blue Jays instructors, former broadcasters and current Blue Jays players. Our very own, Cathy Bradley, stated “I go to a lot of these events all over the U.S. and throughout the world, and I’ll say this is one of the most enthusiastic crowds. We’re so happy that you all came to support youth baseball in your community.”
It was a night to remember. Once the lights clicked off and signaled the end of the day, anticipation was sure to remain for the many games to be played this summer, and beyond.