By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor
In December, Branson High (Colo.) athletic director Brad Doherty launched a fundraising campaign for a new turf field in a small rural community with a dilapidated football field. In just over three months, he led an effort that brought in $440,000.
Thanks to the immediate success of the campaign, Branson administrators plan to have a $540,000 project completed by the fall football season.
To kick off the campaign, Doherty scripted a YouTube video, which went viral and caught the attention of the entire nation. Four incoming seniors played the main characters, and elementary school students were cast as members of the school board, opposing coaches in the region and the school’s maintenance staff.
“We had little kids playing the school board when they were shocked and awed by the price tag of the new turf field,” Doherty said. “Other elementary school kids played the big, bad opposing coaches who refused to play on our field. And some other kids played members of the maintenance staff trying to baby the grass.
“It was funny and clever and got a lot of traction,” Doherty said.
Donations from people all over the country followed, and the project was fast-tracked with a plan to complete the new field this summer.
Doherty’s Road Map to Fundraising
Doherty offered the following tip to coaches who are looking to fundraise for a renovation project: Break down the cost of the project into three parts.
- Local support and grass roots funding
“This is the money you generate from social media campaigns, donations from friends and family, and fundraising efforts by the players. That happened very quickly for us, which was very, very neat.”
The 21 families of the Bearcat Football team pledged $11,000 in only five days.
- Foundational grants
The Bearcat Football CLAW Project is a natural fit for groups such as the El Pomar Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado, the Broncos Community Grant Program, the Colorado Trust, the Daniels Fund, and the Gates Foundation. Doherty also recommended that coaches look at the NFL Foundation’s grant program for fields, lights and bleachers. The timeline didn’t fit with Branson’s effort since the grant applications are due in the spring and awarded in October.
- Private and corporate donors
A local business owner saw that video and offered over $50,000 of in-kind contributions to help build the goal posts, announcer’s booth, and fencing around the field. More local contractors have agreed to very generous in-kind contributions to build the base of the field.
Timetable for Accomplishing the Project Objectives
January 1, 2021 – Fundraising Launch
January 18, 2021. Initial Project Approval and District Funding Commitment from Branson School Board
January 19, 2021 – Begin Foundation and Grant Applications
February 15, 2021 – Final Project Approval from Branson School Board
February 16, 2021 – Submit Foundation and Grant Applications
February 22, 2021 – Contract in place with Turf Installation Company
March through April 2021 – Field Construction Begins
May or June 2021 – Field Construction Complete
Summer 2021 – Walking Path, Shaded Structure, Announcer Booth, Fencing Completed
The Branson Project Page
Visit www.bransonschooldistrict.com/football/ to learn more about the project.
Listen to the Branson fundraiser manager share more fundraising secrets on the FNF Coaches Podcast.