Pairing with Parasport Spokane. It’s not marketing or just the mission, it’s a complete culture proposition. ParaSport Spokane develops athletes with integrity utilizing sport as a catalyst for life. Their annual event fundraiser celebrates the athlete with integrity. Just like they do every day by providing training, recreational, and competitive opportunities for youth and adults with physical disabilities that promote success, self-worth, and independence.
David Greig and Brittany Croft, along with the auction team have used Auctria for a few years and are happy to share a few tips. Their event success top-level goals are driven by the mission and the money follows. They want all supporters to know ParaSport for athletics and how that contributes to lifelong empowerment.
The event and auction fundraiser's overarching goal is to let the supporters get to know the athletes. Supporters include sponsors, bidders, and donors. Meeting the athletes 1:1, talking and chatting throughout the event, and formal video presentations make ParaSport Spokane fundraising very personal.
The event and ParaSport Spokane grow each year in both fundraising and strategy. The annual event and auction have been running for six years. When the event started they were unsure where it would go and considered a goal of $8000 as a reach. To their surprise, they more than doubled this the very first year. As they exit the sixth year they continue to exceed expectations at over $100,000. These dollars fund recreational athletics, equipment, and tournaments along with competitive athletic and travel opportunities.
Here are the top three tips to share:
Make the organization indelible in the supporters mind
Event flexibility and fun
Pairing with ParaSport
The Indelible Image of a Red Herd
At the event fundraiser, they capture hearts as the Red Herd. ParaSport Spokane's signature color is red. As the athletes travel they do so together proudly wearing ParaSport gear. As they all wheel or walk together as a group they evoke wonder from the passers-by. En Masse they have been referred to as the Red Herd and this name has stuck with them, in a good way!
They have embraced the moniker and use that as part of their branding for the organization in general as well as the event and auction fundraiser. At the event, fundraiser athletes mingle amongst the party-goers and help sell raffle tickets and goodies such as fudge. The older athletes are paired with younger athletes to help with communication and life skills. How to present yourself first as a person, then as a ParaSport athlete.
A Facebook post from ParaSport shows how
“Red Herd is so much more than a sport. The games are fun, wins are a nice outcome. However, learning and growth is the thread throughout. Team grocery runs, collaborative meal prep, study hall, mentorship, reflection, shared analysis are all foundational in the whole team trip experience. We love utilizing @airbnb when on the road for all of these reasons. When the Red Herd rolls into town this fam is ready to make lifelong memories together and have some fun.”
Event Fundraising Fun
ParaSport hads fun with their fundraisers. At the auctionevent fundraiser they conduct a dessert auction. Party goers have the opportunity to bid on dessert for the table. The bids soar and will gor for hundreds of dollars. To make it more competitive, not every dessert is equal. So tThe more desirable desserts have aggressive bidding. This equates to more money raised and lots of friendly fun.
Flexibility and creativity has always been a driver for the auction fundraiser. When the event was in-person the group utilized kiosk bidding to assist bidders that needed a little extra help. When the pandemic hit all bidding was shifted to all online. The most recent event after the pandemic dangers have lifted brought together the lessons from previous years creating a hybrid auction and event. The group utilized kiosk bidding to assist bidders that needed a little extra technical support.
ParaSport credits much of the energy and fundraising generated from the stage fromto their emcee’s, Maggie Crabtree & Sam Adams. Maggie is a radio personality and Sam is a morning news show anchor. Both are incredible storytellers.They capture hearts and that value is intangible. Sam regularly interviews the athletes about sports and places the sports angle first in every story. Maggie carries this forward to the Pairing With ParaSport event with depth in character. These great emcees raise the bidders’, donors’ and sponsors' knowledge of ParaSport fromby seeing showcasing even more of the long term goals, how relational the athletes are, and seeing the mission actualized from young athlete to lifelong success.
ParaSport runs fundraising events year round. Some are combined with athletic activities like tournaments and a basketball shoot-a-thon. Others include a merchandise give back with a local coffee roastery.
Pairing with ParaSport
This strategy is not isolated to a single fundraising event day/night. Board members, and sponsors get to know the athletes on an individual level. ParaSport Spokane has found that these connections make for fiercely passionate supporters. This means supporters will donate money, lend a voice to social media sharing and come out not only to fundraising events but the athletic events as well. And this is exactly what they want, their athletes to be seen as athletes.
Pairing with ParaSport goes into the boardroom and sponsors hearts. The athletes are provided training on how to advocate and promote and grow the awareness for youth and adults with disabilities. Whether they walk or roll into a board room or sponsor's office or location they are carrying the Red Herd story. When sharing their personal stories with these business partners the business partners in turn become vocal influencers. Pairing doesn’t just end with sharing a few notes on social media.
Pairing with ParaSport has created a very passionate society that shares the excitement and continues to develop more awareness. Collectively the messaging reaches even more curious athletes, volunteers, sponsors, and business partners.
ParaSport Spokane uses adaptive sports as a catalyst for life. They do so through sports as a catalyst for life. Wheelchair basketball, para-track and field, sled hockey, swimming, strength and conditioning, para-fencing, and wheelchair racing all contribute to the learning environment. In Pairing with ParaSport sponsors are invited and frequently come out to athletic events. Seeing the athletic events in person is one of the best ways for sponsors to see how their funds make a difference.
Special thanks to ParaSport Spokane’s David Greig and Brittany Croft for sharing their fundraising story. To learn more about ParaSport Spokane please visit their website https://www.parasportspokane.org/
Some frequently asked questions about ParaSport
How do I get involved in ParaSport Spokane?
- To learn more contact our Executive Director Teresa Skinner (509)999-6466 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Is ParaSport Spokane just for children?
- Our members are all ages and abilities. Give us a call, we would love to meet you!
Do I have to be competitive to participate?
- Anyone can be athletic and an athlete. ParaSport Spokane members have a wide variety of goals. Many want to be recreational, other's love the social outlet, a number have Paralympic aspirations. We're an avenue to help people become the best version of themselves.
My child has a disability but doesn’t use a wheelchair, can they still participate?
- Of course. There is a very wide variety of disability diagnoses which allow for participation within Paralympic Sport. Give us a call to find out!
Do we need to provide our own adaptive equipment?
- If you have your own equipment, you are encouraged to use it. ParaSport Spokane provides access to equipment where possible and will help in seeking grant opportunities which provide equipment grants.
Is there a cost to participate?
- This is a zero participation fee for service program. Costs may be incurred when athletes start to travel with our competitive teams. Financial hardship is not a limiting factor.
I know someone who may be interested in participating, what should I do?
- Let us know who they are and how we can reach out to them, or to their parents.
How is this different than Special Olympics?
- The Paralympic movement was created for persons with physical disabilities. Typically participants will not have a cognitive impairment.