5 Benefits of Sponsoring Local Youth Sports Teams

Looking for a grand slam marketing opportunity for your small business? Consider sponsoring a local youth sports program.
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Get more than just brand awareness when you sponsor a youth sports team. Contribute to public sentiment about your brand and invest in your community. (Photo: matimix/Shutterstock)

For most small business owners, sponsoring a major league sports team is outside of their price bracket. Youth sports programs, on the other hand, provide far more affordable sponsorship opportunities that focus on your target audience: the local community.

There are a number of youth organizations looking for support from small businesses to help subsidize the cost of sports programs and provide more opportunities for area kids. But sponsoring a team isn’t just good for the community — it makes good business sense as well.

Here are five reasons for your small business to step up to the plate.

Boost brand awareness

Simply stated: sports sponsorships are a great advertising tactic. Otherwise, why would big companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their name painted on the side of a race car or featured in a stadium? By sponsoring a youth sports team, you have the opportunity to expose your small business brand to new audiences in your local target market.

Related: Boost Your Business through Local Search Optimization

Depending on the organization, sponsorship packages can include field signage, your company logo on uniforms and the team website, opportunities to pass out fliers or giveaway branded swag, promotions on social media and in printed materials, and much more.

Kate Nematollahi, director of education programs for the National Alliance for Youth Sports, said when it comes to sports sponsorships, “The sky’s the limit.” Many youth organizations are very flexible and even willing to customize preset sponsorship packages if a business owner is interested in something different, such as a speaking opportunity at the team banquet at season’s end, she said.

Leverage a welcomed form of advertising

Because sponsorships help offset costs and enable more kids to participate in team sports, parents and spectators are far more receptive to their advertising messages, said Nematollahi.

“The teams and leagues are able to do more and provide a better program because of the contributions of the sponsors,” she said. Because of this, a banner highlighting a small business on a youth sports website, for example, is not viewed as a nuisance, like most ads are.

Related: What Small Businesses Need to Know About Permission Marketing

MJ Pedone, president of Indra Public Relations, said that while many traditional ways of reaching customers are failing, youth sports sponsorships are still a positive and engaging way for brands to market themselves. “Parents like to see the companies that are supporting kids, and in turn, will support the sponsors.”

Build goodwill with your community

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Investing in local community youth programs demonstrates your company’s values to customers. (Photo: Sergey Novikov/Shutterstock)

Supporting local youth sports programs also shows that your business is interested in the future of your community, said Nematollahi. “It says that you are not just a business in it for the profits, but you are invested in seeing the local youth succeed. Children can gain valuable life skills through sports. By sponsoring a youth sports organization, a local business aligns itself with those positive values,” she explained.

That said, small business owners should also follow due diligence to make sure the team they’re supporting has a solid reputation. “Ask the league directors about their youth sports philosophy, if they provide training for coaches, run background checks, and enforce a code of ethics for everyone involved with the program,” she recommended. “You don’t want to sponsor the team with a rambunctious coach who always harasses the officials.”

Related: How to Get Free Publicity for Your Small Business

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“If the youth program is a registered nonprofit, businesses can get a tax break for making a charitable donation.” -MJ Pedone (Photo: MJ Pedone)

Get potential tax breaks

If the youth sports team is a registered nonprofit organization, there could also be tax incentives for your business.

“Many youth sports organizations are registered nonprofit groups, but not all,” said Pedone. “If the youth program is a registered nonprofit, businesses can get a tax break for making a charitable donation.” If not, you can still categorize your sponsorship as a marketing expense on your taxes, she said.

Nematollahi recommended checking with your small business accountant or attorney for specifics. If you receive something of value in return for your donation, such as a plaque with a team picture on it, the full amount may not be tax-deductible, she said.

Related: End-of-Year Tax Checklist for Small Business Owners

Score a better bang for your advertising buck

Sponsoring a youth sports program goes beyond the typical advertising transaction and contributes to public sentiment about your brand, which can make it difficult to compare your business’ return on investment (ROI) with traditional advertising tactics.

Nematollahi said small business owners can make a more informed decision by asking certain questions in advance, such as how many participants a league has, the number of spectators at an average game, if website clicks can be tracked, etc. “Also, some businesses may be able to offer a special coupon or referral code that can be tracked. That way they can calculate ROI if they choose,” she said.

“If a small business has $300 to spend, and they are trying to decide between buying a quarter-page ad in the local paper or sponsoring a team of 7- and 8-year-olds to play T-ball for the spring, I hope they would choose the sponsorship,” said Nematollahi.

Related: 5 Ways to Get Free Advertising for Your Small Business

And why wouldn’t you want to sponsor a program that’s doing great things for the youth in your area? It’s a home run.

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