I received an email today from a lady whose stepdaughter has been invited to a national championship, but we all know (or can imagine, anyway) the costs involved at that level of competition. Aside from the show & related fees, there’s also travel fees and so forth. Her question is how to raise money to pay for this.
First off, congrats to the stepdaughter for doing so well.
I would personally start out by looking for sponsors. No… I would personally start out by doing a lot of planning.
Check all the applicable rule books. Can juniors even have sponsors? Are there limitations on sponsor branding? Can displays be set up in the stabling area? Logos on shirts and saddle pads? Keep in mind the rules for championship and national competitions are sometimes different than the rules for regular competition. Make sure you’ve researched everything!
Assuming sponsors are allowed by the rules—I’d spend some time working out exactly how much money is needed and how that money breaks down. Sponsors want to know their money will go to good use.
Then think about how you can thank the sponsors—what sort of display can do you do at the show? What can you do at home (example: a thank you in the local paper, or a feature article for a local horse journal about going to nationals, with a thank you to the sponsors included). Maybe get photos taken at nationals and present them to the sponsors afterward in a nice frame. And so on. Make sure the sponsors know you are grateful (and that you will get their name out there).
Don’t discount goods in place of cash. The local feedstore might not want to donate cash, but they might be willing to donate hay or bedding. Your local gas station might contribute a gas card if you’re trailering. If you find someone willing to donate a trailer, send me their name and address.
Will all this work? A similar approach worked for me with college scholarships. Have a plan. Be organized. Know what you really need (this is not the same thing as what you want). There are probably websites out there on how to find sponsors as well, and they probably have sample letters that can be sent out. Google finding sponsorship in general, not just sponsorship related to riding—there are a lot of sports with people looking for sponsors, so you may find useful information in unlikely places.
The second major thing I would do is check with the local horse organizations and see if they have any sort of scholarship fund for this purpose. They might, and you won’t know if you don’t ask.
And the third major thing I would do is encourage the stepdaughter to do all the odd jobs she can do, whenever she can get them (assuming she’s old enough). Babysit, mow lawns, walk pets, wash cars, anything and everything. All the money she earns goes into the Nationals fund. Sure, it’s not fun and it’s not glamorous, but an extra $100 a week x four weeks a month x four months is $1600. And at the rates babysitters charge (in my area, at least), $100 a week isn’t an unreasonable goal.
Anyone else have ideas?
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