Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Magazine
• 2016 WFTDA champs recap
• fundraising choices
• living with a traumatic brain injury
• jam coaching basics
• tryouts: conquering nerves and getting ahead
• sitting on the sidelines: injured skaters
• plus more, including why derby people do summer camp best, Japan open roller derby tournament, 12 step program for parents to be better sports fans, choosing the right officiating spot
Bob Noxious, brown paper tickets
I have the tendency to start many of my blogs, articles, or classroom sessions by saying, “The moment you sell your first ticket, you are no longer a club, you are a business.” I say this because, as nearly everything derby is a volunteer organization, it’s easy to lose focus on business responsibilities. In this article, I’m going to put a bit of a twist on a common business term that may help you rethink the entire way you manage fundraising within your league.
“Oh no Bob. This will put me to sleep, won’t it?” Hey! Cut me some slack. Sure, I could write about fun derby adventures and shenanigans. After all, I have 12 years’ worth of stories, but I choose to make business less “businessy” instead. I promise you this article will not put you to sleep, but help you measure league activities in a way that helps you get more sleep!
Spoiler alert; here is the necessary, boring paragraph.
If you are not familiar with the term “Return on Investment (ROI),” it should be part of your basic business vocabulary. ROI is generally referred to in business investment situations. It’s quite simple. ROI is an easy measure of an investment’s performance. If your league buys an old school bus for $2000 which brings a bar crowd who spends $3000 in tickets and merch that season, your ROI is 50% for that time period. In other words, you’ve covered your investment, and made 50% more that year. Let’s not get bogged down by the oil changes and the one flat tire you replaced... someone always has to bring too much reality into my perfect-world examples... as long as you get the point. It’s an easy way to measure the efficiency of money spent and you should use it to measure multiple “bang for your buck” scenarios.
True ROI measures money performance, plain and simple. It’s simply profit divided by your investment to create a percentage. These percentages play a part in helping you determine where your money is having its greatest impact. You should use it to measure everything from the performance of individual merch pieces to your venue options vs. ticket sales. Yet, the one very important thing basic ROI doesn’t measure, is your time!
What if we looked at ROI so that investment wasn’t money at all? It was time!
In derby, time is our greatest investment. In a paid business, you can factor time into an investment by including the wages of those contribute to work that goes into a project. In derby, you invest time that’s volunteered.
Everyone’s time is the most important asset invested! So, what if we looked at our business and changed the math to determine return on time invested? Now, let’s look purely at money generated per volunteer hour to measure fundraising efforts.
Fundraising using person hours to determine ROI
HEY! Don’t nod off on me yet. This is where it gets insightful. The stats crew and many officials - I’ll even throw some announcers into this statement – may even find it, dare I say, FUN!
What if you measured the success of your fundraising or marketing efforts based on return for the number of person-hours invested. Of course, the idea here is to make more with less, right? Here’s an example:
Car washes. Fun? Sure. Worth your time? You decide. You hold a car wash on a beautiful, sunny Saturday for six hours. You staff that car wash so there are always six people helping, or 36 hours volunteered. On a great day, I’d say a car wash will make $400 in that six hours. Your volunteers’ efforts generate nearly $11 for every person hour or $67 per person for the entire day. Was that worth everyone’s time? That is something YOU need to decide. This is the simple version, not including the time spent by volunteers getting to and from the wash, supplies needed, which should be subtracted from your money made, nor bad weather. Now, at least, you have a measure.
Each of you only has so many hours to give. The idea is to determine the most efficient use of time so that you work only on fundraisers that produce.
Garage sales, bake sales, and similar projects take a lot of time and produce very little money. Fun? Again, probably a good time for those who participate. Is it a good use of their time when you will need them to practice, help at charitable events, and assist bout production? Probably not, unless PR or high exposure to the public factors into the fundraiser. Think about it, if you take four volunteers to work the game crowd for a 50/50 raffle, as opposed to just buying tickets at the merch booth, that four hours of total volunteer time will produce hundreds of dollars. Would you rather put four hours into the raffle or 50 hours into organizing and manning a garage sale that produces and equal or less amount of money? If 50/50 raffles are not legal in your state or part of the world, think about a public appearance where volunteers also sell tickets to your next game and some merchandise.
Don’t limit fundraising to the ideas your members can come up with. Do a little research. In Madison, WI, where I live, the local soccer club makes money selling concessions at the local arena, helping distribute sales flyers and coupons at a department store, and gift wrapping presents during the holidays at a local mall. These are structured, so you don’t have to plan nor do preparatory work, they pay an hourly wage, and, once you have your foot in the door, are there every year. PLUS, they give you exposure! Wear your league shirt or, if they’ll allow, your boutfit is better yet.
Time is money when it comes to fundraising, but time is also part of balancing life in derby and outside of the sport. I’ve used this statement hundreds of times, “Roller derby is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.” This isn’t like playing basketball or volleyball once a week. People need time to maintain friendships, family, and “me time.” The smarter we are about using our time can mean making better money and requiring less fundraising time from our members. This gives you better financial stability and the ability to either shift time back to members or to something else that’s more productive for the league.