3 Ways to Engage Local Businesses at School Events!

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[0:02] Fitness events like sports day, field day, or jog-a-thon are great ways to get students moving. They’re also meaningful ways to engage local businesses with your school, which could lead to future collaborations and sponsorship. I’m going to share some creative examples of ways to engage local businesses in your next fitness event.

[0:56] Fitness events like field day, sports days, or jog-a-thons are great! They get kids moving. That’s a break from regular class time. Kids get to try out new sports or games and they maybe even connect as a fundraiser for the school. These events are also a great way to connect with local businesses. I’m thinking about summer camps, coaches, fitness studios, specialty retailers, restaurants, and even health providers like dentists and optometrists.

[1:26] These are businesses in your community that you can easily pick up the phone and call or email the owner, not big corporations with an automated telephone system. So these small businesses are looking for ways to get in front of your students and families who may become their future customers. They want creative ways to be part of your programs. So today I’m going to talk about three ways that you can get them involved.

– First, by having them provide activities on campus.
– Second, by asking them to sponsor your event.
– Third, by asking them to donate prizes.

"However you engage businesses with your school, whether it's having them lead activities, sponsoring events, or donating prizes. It's just a great all-around win-win for the school, for the students, and the businesses." – @RunKidsRun Click To Tweet

1. Provide Activities

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[2:00] So first, let’s talk about recruiting coaches and fitness instructors to lead activities at your fitness event. I helped host a fitness day at a small elementary school. We recruited a dozen local businesses to provide activities like soccer, dance, martial arts, and hockey. Each business was asked to develop a small group activity that would last about 15 minutes and that the kids could rotate through. The goal of the event was to expose kids to new activities and it was not a fundraiser.

[2:33] The point of bringing the businesses to campus was so that we didn’t need to use our teachers or parent volunteers to run the activities. Like I said, we didn’t charge the businesses to participate because they had to commit time and resources. It actually turned out to be a four-hour event and it required quite a lot of planning and energy and some of the coaches brought a few staff members to help. So you know the upshot the kids got to try out a lot of really great activities. They got to preview some of the classes in their community and the coaches got to showcase their programs and maybe even recruit some new members. It was awesome.

2. Sponsor Your Event

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[3:14] Another way to get businesses involved is to ask them to sponsor your event. I worked with an elementary school that held a fitness event, which was excuse me, a fitness week, which was five days of activities. They have activities before school, during recess, and during lunch and this event was a fundraiser. Businesses could get involved by coming to campus to lead activities like dance workouts or soccer drills, but they were asked to pay a sponsorship fee to do so and we were able to do that because the event had been around for a long time and local businesses really wanted to get in front of these parents. The committee, it was a parent committee, came up with a sponsor deck, which was basically a menu of different sponsorship opportunities for businesses to choose from. They had to pay to provide an activity, but they could also pay to include social media posts or emails or to have their logo printed on banners and t-shirts. Again, another really fun event that ended up raising a lot of money for the school.

3. Donate Prizes

[4:25] If businesses want to get involved, but maybe they don’t have a budget or it doesn’t make sense for them to come to campus like maybe they’re a store or a dentist who can’t really lead an activity or you don’t need them at your event. Another way to involve them is to ask them to donate prizes. This might include gift baskets, gift cards, class passes, sports equipment, or coaching. Maybe they can even donate, you know, a really big grand prize, like a bike and if somebody does something on that scale, I’d suggest taking photographs when the prize is awarded, that can maybe be used for some local publicity.

[5:06] At a walk-a-thon that I helped with, we actually had weekly incentive drawings to encourage the kids to turn in their pledges early. So small prizes from local retailers were a great motivator. We also did have some grand prizes, that we used after the event to award the most money-raised, most laps, and the most spirited participant. I will say a quick note coupons are not prizes or donations. Some restaurants or stores will want to give your families coupons. It’s a nice gesture, but just remember it’s not an outright donation. Coupons give the businesses free advertising, but customers have to come in and spend money in order to use the coupon and your school gets nothing in return. So if a business wants to offer coupons or a discount code, that’s great. Just make sure that they’re paying another sponsorship fee or they’ve donated in some other way.

[6:08] However, you engage businesses with your school, whether it’s having them lead activities on campus, sponsoring an event, donating prizes, or some other way of getting them involved. It’s just a great all-around win-win for the school, for the students, and the businesses. Businesses want to be part of your school community. They love supporting local kids. Just remember that you are asking them potentially for a big financial or time commitment and they want exposure in return. So be really clear about what they get in exchange for their contribution and be sure that you deliver on what you promise.

Don’t Forget to Thank Sponsors!

[6:44] Also, remember to say thank you. A teacher once gave me a stack of thank you letters that her second-grade students wrote to me after fitness day. They wrote, thank-yous and they also told me what they liked and didn’t like about the event. The teacher got a writing lesson out of it. The students learned the importance of saying thank you and I got some really valuable unfiltered feedback. Thank you so much for listening.

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