What We Want (Part 3): Fundraising

Based on this comparison, was a $2M target for sponsorship revenue by the end of 2020 realistic for USA Team Handball?

This is part of an ongoing series: Link

Pretty much since its inception USA Team Handball has lacked sufficient funding to accomplish what it would like to in terms of National Team performance, grass roots development and anything else.  So, it should come as no surprise that the Strategic Plan has some ambitious goals and targets.  Page 4, Section 2) of the Strategic Plan covers fundraising:

Goal A focuses on near term hires and the establishment of retired executive volunteer and internship programs to support fundraising activity. To date, just the new CEO, Barry Siff, has been hired. There’s no data available yet as to how much new funding has come in, but Verizon has come on board as founding parner. It’s reportedly not a huge amount, but there is real potential for it to leading to more sponsors and sponsorship dollars.

Goal B discusses having a fundraising retreat and developing a fundraising plan. To my knowledge there has been no retreat or specific fundraising plan developed, although surely efforts to raise funds are ongoing.

Goal C discusses a long term strategic plan for fundraising. Again, I’m not aware of any strategic plan having been developed, but one can assume some sort of strategy is being developed. It has been noted that the Verizon deal provides credibility and can be a catalyst for future deals. Three of the sub-bullets refer to using Salesforce.com as a sponsorship platform, but if this platform has been acquired there’s been no announcement. For membership purposes the Sport:80 platform has now been adopted and it does have donation functionality, although not on the level of salesforce.

Goal D highlights focuses on membership and alumni as a source for annual giving. To date, I’m not aware of any new campaigns beyond the usual requests for donations.

Appendix A has several targets listed for specific time periods, but in many cases it’s not very clear what is actually attended.

  • Appendix A references “Finance” several times with a dollar value listed at the end of each quarter along with the amount of money the Board of Directors should raise in the preceding 2 fiscal quarters. It’s not clear to me what those end of Qtr dollar figures are supposed to mean. (Revenue? Cash on hand? Neither seem to make sense). The amount of money that the Board of Directors is supposed to have raised in the near term seem pretty ambitious and I suspect those targets haven’t been met.
    • End 4th Qtr 2018:  $5,000
      • BOD raises $100K
    • End 2nd Qtr 2019:  $100K
      • BOD raises $250K
    • End 4th Qtr 2019:  $500K
      • BOD raises $250K
    • End 2nd Qtr 2020:  $650K
      • BOD raises $500K            
    • End 4th Qtr 2020:  $750K
      • BOD raises $500K
    • End 4th Qtr 2024: $5M
      • “CEO raising money”
    • End 4th Qtr 2028: $10M
      • “CEO raising money”
  • Appendix A references membership several times with targets for the # of members and revenue from membership. No word as to whether these targets have been met. I suspect that membership hasn’t grown much and may have even gone down in 2020 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
    • End 4th Qtr 2018:  816/$57K
    • End 2nd Qtr 2019:  850/$60K
    • End 4th Qtr 2019:  900/$63K
    • End 2nd Qtr 2020:  1,000/               
    • End 4th Qtr 2020:  1,200/$84K
    • End 4th Qtr 2024:  5,000/$350K
    • End 4th Qtr 2028:  5,000/$350K
  • Appendix A references sponsors several times with targets for the # of sponsors and revenue from sponsorship. It’s not entirely clear what these numbers mean, but I think the first number refers to the # of sponsors and the 2nd number refers to the total amount of sponsorship dollars. I suspect that the 2018-2020 targets have not been met. At one time the USA website had a page that listed partners/sponsors, but it doesn’t appear that page exists now. To date there have been 2 sponsorship announcements with Verizon and Molten. One can also assume that the jersey sponsorship with Eldera is still in place. Again, I don’t think any of these near term targets have been met.
    • End 4th Qtr 2018:  9/$824K
    • End 2nd Qtr 2019:  10/$900K
    • End 4th Qtr 2019:  11/$1M
    • End 2nd Qtr 2020:  13/$1.5M        
    • End 4th Qtr 2020:  15/$2M
    • End 4th Qtr 2024:  15/$5M
    • End 4th Qtr 2028:  15/$5M


In my opinion, the Fundraising section of the Strategic Plan needs to be totally rewritten. Parts of it are overly solution specific while other parts are overly vague. The specific dollar value targets aren’t clearly defined and the targets in many cases are so ambitious that even far more established team sport NGBs would be unlikely to meet them. Add, the current economic reality of the Coronavirus Pandemic and it’s even more clear that it’s time to start over.

What should such a rewrite include? For starters, realistic targets based in part on the fundraising performance of similar team sport federations. I would also suggest that top level strategies be identified for the major revenue categories: Grants, Sponsorship, Membership and Events.

As a reference, take a look at comparable NGB performance for 2013-2016. (The last quadrennial for which public available financial data is available.)

It only takes a glance to quickly ascertain that the desired fundraising targets are out of whack, particularly in terms of sponsorship. I guess it’s theoretically possible that Team Handball can develop some fundraising strategies that would leave these more established sports in the dust. Possible… But, really unlikely.

And, while aspirational goals can be OK sometimes, they’re not OK for realistic strategic planning. This is because plans have to match reality as to what can actually be done. And, this is really true in regards to funding because it is pointless to have grand plans if the funding to implement them won’t be available.