Supporting Those That Support Us
J. C. Tilton
Who's going to pay for youth sports? Another summer of little league baseball is upon us and the leagues are looking for sponsors. They are as much a part of the game as are the referee's and coaches. As many of you know I was able to get both a youth girls basketball organization started and a peewee football organization. It took a lot of work and many people volunteered their time to get them off the ground. Starting these organizations from scratch we had to go to many local businesses and organizations with our collective hat's in hand looking for donations to get them started. The football was particularly expensive with the initial investment in equipment. It was a humbling as well as learning experience for me.
Sure there is some benefit to the sponsor for getting his name out on the back of jersey or in a sports program. So they do generally benefit from the advertising. But what I learned was that most business owners are altruistic. Any business generated from advertising was not a factor. What mattered to them was giving back to the community, or helping out kids. Most of them were successful and wanted to help out the people who had helped them build their business with their patronage. Remember that most local businesses are owned by individuals. When they give money for a team, that's money right out of their pocket.
One sponsor that I approached told me that he didn't care if he got nickel of business for his donation. He had bought a full size ad and gave a little bit extra too boot. When I told him that I could give him a receipt so that he could at least write it off as a business expense, he responded “Don't bother, all I care is that we improve the football program. If you fall short on donations, come back and see me and I'll see what I can do.” Talk about having a big heart. Oh, and we didn't have to go back to him, we found other like minded business people in the community and we met our goals. And most business's gave out of the goodness of their hearts just as he did. Without the support of business people like this in the community it would have been almost impossible to get started.
After my experience, I made doubly sure that I patronized supporters. Take my vehicle for example: when I needed gas, I would stop by a sponsor's gas station; insurance - yup purchased locally; and when I wrecked, again fixed a local repair shop. It was a little way to give them some payback on their investment. They supported our kids when we needed to get started, and I wanted to turn around and give them some support. Besides if locally owned businesses wither away and die - who is going to support youth organizations?
So this summer when you are watching your kids play ball take a look at the name on their jersey. If it's a flower shop, buy some flowers from there for Memorial Day. A restaurant, take the crew out there to eat some Friday night. A plumber, well you get the picture. Sometimes we take things for granted. Somebody will pay for the teams we assume. But if we don't support them, they may not be around next season and then who will pay for the teams? A business that gives deserves that we turn around and give back to them. Comments: email: Chris Tilton