As the 2021 Little League® season begins, the local league Board of Directors should create a detailed report of the league’s finances that can be shared with membership as needed. The transparency of the league’s finances will be paramount in explaining to the league’s membership where the league stands financially as it navigates through this continuous uncertain time.
Revenues / Savings
Start by assessing your league’s operating revenues as part of an annual financial plan. This is simply making a list of all the money that your league plans to collect through the year by category (e.g. registration fees, sponsorships, donations, fundraising efforts, apparel sales, etc.). Does your league have any reserve funds in savings or other investments that could be utilized to offset any expenses that need to be paid?
As the new season approaches, registration should be top of mind. Reach out to those who registered with your league in years past to see if they are interested in coming back. Also, be sure to review any tips, ideas, and recommendations for player recruitment and retention.
As many families in your community may be facing financial hardships, especially this year, leagues should endeavor to keep registration fees as minimal as possible. Assessing your returning players, as well as forecasting how many new participants you’ll have, will help provide a forecast for revenue tied to your registration fees, and will help your league identify areas where additional revenue will be needed to support the league’s activities.
Local League Sponsors
Create a list of businesses that provided you sponsorships and any costs associated with those sponsorships (e.g. producing a banner for the outfield).A detailed sponsorship guide can be found at LittleLeague.org/SeasonResources. Similar to families, many businesses or community organizations that may have supported your league in previous years may not be in the financial position to provide that same level of support.
Donations provided to your league are typically different from sponsorships in that the donor does not expect anything in return. You should assess your total donation amounts and plan to reach out to donors once your plan to resume the local league operations are set.
Little League Recommendations:
- Provide an overview of where you are using their donations to support your league needs this season.
- If donors specified their donation of money or in-kind goods and services to a specific initiative, take some time to discuss with them where their donation is best served and ensure they are comfortable with its use.
Many leagues undertake fundraising efforts each year in support of the expected annual budget. These range from the traditional candy or food sales to the more complex apparel sales, discount cards for local businesses, online fundraisers, and crowdfunding. Be on the lookout for additional crowdfunding opportunities from Little League International this winter.
Additional guidance on fundraising will be available at LittleLeague.org/SeasonResources.
Little League Recommendations:
- Whatever fundraising efforts are being employed by the league, Little League recommends that you communicate back to your donors how the funds will be used to facilitate current or future league efforts.
- If your league is just beginning fundraising or would like to in the future to help offset unforeseen expenses, Little League recommends providing a thorough overview of your league’s expenses and how the money raised will be used to offset these expenses. We also recommend that you evaluate fundraisers that assess limited fees or surcharges to ensure the league maintains a significant portion (90%+) of the funds raised.
- Review additional guidance and best practices for fundraising for Little League.
- Use electronic means to connect with and update your families, sponsors, and the general public of the status of the league’s fundraising efforts.
- Leagues and Districts should keep in mind that many states maintain specific requirements for charitable solicitations among non-profits. Additional steps may be required of leagues or districts before you are permitted to solicit funds in the name of the league in your local community. Such guidelines also may pertain to games of chance, raffles, crowdfunding and other contest that are used as fundraisers. Be sure to check your individual state laws or other requirements regarding fundraising and be sure that you adhering to these guidelines with all activities. A helpful resource can be found at the National Council of Nonprofits.
Leagues should follow local and/or state guidance when considering operating food or concession sales. Leagues opting to operate food and/or concession sales should also review and understand the CDC’s guidelines.
A complete Little League Concessions Guide will be available that outlines how your league can account for the revenue and expenses tied to your league’s concession stand.
In an effort to assist local Little League programs who are in need of financial assistance during this time, please visit LittleLeague.org/GrantResources for available grant opportunities, both nationally and in your state, to assist youth sports program, as well as information on any current opportunities that may be available from our official Little League partners.
As we continue to assess the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have made the difficult decision, effective immediately, to temporarily suspend the Grow the Game Grant Program that includes support for league enhancement, Softball, Challenger, and Urban Initiative. Little League International is committed to assisting as many leagues as possible during this unprecedented season, which included crediting all 2020 charter fees back to our leagues earlier this year.
Grow the Game Grant Applications received by September 20, 2020, will still be processed and filed for review when the grant program is reinstated.
Leagues are often looking to create opportunities for facility development and improvement and use capital fundraising over time to help sustain work towards these projects that may require a large investment. Donations raised for capital projects are typically reserved for those projects and not able to be utilized for league operating expenses.
Little League Recommendations:
- Leagues should carefully review the circumstances in which fundraising for specific projects was conducted. Before re-allocating to assist with other league expenses, review the terms of which the donations were accepted.
- If donors are reachable, contact them to determine if the funds could be used for more urgent needs with each individual donor’s permission.
- It’s important to be transparent with how much money was raised for capital projects. If the league plans to transfer a portion of those funds for league expenses, the Board of Directors should inform the league membership of the decision-making process.
Make a list of the items your league plans to spend money on or is committed to spending money on. Verify such expenditures with your League Treasurer and involve the Audit Committee of the local league Board of Directors to verify expenditures, if available.
Determine what equipment the league needs to order and what the league has received, if anything, at this point.
Equipment and supplies could include uniforms, bats, balls, helmets, tees, buckets, field-related heavy equipment (tractors, drags, etc.), lawncare (fertilizer, dirt, clay, etc.), and field-related maintenance equipment (rakes, shovels, etc.). Try to be as specific as possible with purchases and costs.
Determine which equipment is not needed immediately.
Determine if uniforms can be:
- Reused at a future date (Note: this may impact the calculation of refunds)
- Re-ordered or order delayed when timing of the season is determined
Consider recommendations on limiting the sharing of equipment when budgeting for equipment purchases.
Special Event Expenses
Opening Day rentals, preparations
For many, the Little League season is about much more than just practicing and playing games. Community and neighborhood gatherings or special events, such as Opening Day, enrich the Little League experience.
Make sure your following your state and local guidance in terms of large gatherings and holding events when safe and permitted.
Consider options that may not require any expenses, seek out in-kind donations, and see what your local league sponsors could help with, that could help turn the special event into a profit generator and not an expense.
Additional League Operating Expenses
Municipal Fees, Township Expenses or Leases, Technology-Related Expenses, Third-Party Vendors, etc.
In addition to everything else, there are other regular expenses that come with operating your league, which could include facility rentals/leases, website/online scoring/online registration agreements, or third-party service agreements. Calculate these additional fees, which are tied to contracts or service agreements, and which have financial guarantees that the league is responsible.
Have these fields been officially “closed” by your municipality? If so, how does that impact your league financially?
Little League Recommendations:
Have a conversation with these third parties, whether they’re a private entity or municipality, about how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting their business and how that influences your agreement. As part of those conversations, make sure to talk about how services can be paused or delayed in the event your season is interrupted by coronavirus in 2021.
Communication with parents
The best recommendation we have for leagues is to be completely transparent to parents when it comes to finances. Leagues should make the board meeting minutes and financial statements readily available for all.
Leagues should also encourage families in need to take advantage of the T-Mobile Little League Call Up Grant, which can provide families who qualify with direct financial assistance to help offset the cost of registration fees. Learn more about this opportunity at LittleLeague.org/CallUpGrant.