As Janis will attest, there are lots of ways to determine success in youth sports: number of participants out for the team, skills learned, relationships built, and, of course, wins and losses. However you define it, success requires money. Money for uniforms, equipment, facilities, office supplies, and the long list of other expenses (which always surprises me when I look at the books for my team). Below is an action plan for youth teams looking to raise more money and get more support. I call it the four C’s- Create, Connect, Community, Collect. Step 1- Create: No longer does a team have to be covered in the mass media to create awareness and develop a fan base. You can create your own channels of communication and stay top-of-mind with your community of parents, athletes, donors, and community supporters through Facebook, email newsletters, Twitter, text message alerts, and a team blog. Action item: Create a Facebook page, start a Twitter account, invest in a mobile marketing service, launch a regular email newsletter or maintain a team blog. Step 2- Connect: Your community may include parents, athletes, donors and other supporters. Make it easy for them to find and connect with your team. Make sure your team website is optimized with links to your social networks and ways to subscribe to your newsletter and/or text alerts. Further, leverage the networks of your athletes and parents to get more likes on your Facebook page. Action item: Add linked icons of your social networks to a prominent place on your homepage. Step 3- Community: Money, and every other form of support such as volunteering and physical donations, comes from people. And people give to people, not to organizations. So you have to tell your story and create an emotional connection with your community. If you understand why creating a community is important, then you will figure out how. Action item: Post a telling story, video or status update that will help people see your team as more than just a name but a group of real people working, struggling, persisting, failing, and succeeding towards a common goal. Step 4- Collect: Now for the fun part. Collect! Ask your community for support, be it financial or otherwise. Be specific. Tell them that you need $1,000 for new uniforms or that you need someone with a pick-up truck to haul equipment from point A to point B. If you’ve followed the steps above, collecting is easy. The idea here is to cultivate relationships. You can sell cookies today and have money that will be gone tomorrow but creating a community of supporters builds sustainability. It also requires time, effort and foresight. A lack of understanding and foresight is the main reason why many youth organizations struggle with funding and support. By modeling successful non-profits and college athletic departments, you will see that this “fundraising through fan-raising” approach is proven. Take action today. Implement the four C’s for your youth sports program and watch it grow!