Volume 1, Issue 44
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
YABA raised its dues for the first time in many years to account for a large increase in the cost of awards, postage, and the like. The new dues, effective March 15, are $12 a year, up from $7. Many youth directors are already in a panic, fearing parents will pull their children from programs rather than pay the increase. Let's look at this: $12 a year is one dollar per month. Unlike adult bowlers who often complain that adult awards are geared toward higher average bowlers, YABA has awards at every level, for just about every achievement. By joining sanctioned leagues, junior bowlers are eligible for prizes, scholarships, and quality instruction. A handful of patches in the first few weeks quickly delivers that value.
I will admit, I'd prefer that they raised the dues sooner, so the increase didn't seem as large, but one dollar a month per child to be a member of THE organization of this sport isn't going to break anyone. Even if the budget is tight, there are priorities. If bowling is a priority, then you find a way, even if it means fundraising to raise the money to sanction. As a YABA mom, who also must raise funds for school activities, BVL, and you name it, I'm fast becoming the queen of finding ways to NOT stick it to the same few people over and over again. My biggest peeve with most fundraising is that groups keep reaching into the pockets of their own. Parents have enough to buy with the fundraisers for school, scouts, and now, of course, bowling. If the goal is to raise funds for the group, it's nice to find outside sources to reach so that you're drawing from a larger pool.
My first suggestion is a garage sale. I'm sure by culling closets and garages an organization can get great donations from the families in junior leagues. Baby clothes were the biggest draw at our WBA garage sale last fall. We asked a bowling center on a busy street to allow us to rope off a few parking stalls on a Saturday morning, and advertised to the community at large. The shoppers didn't seem care why we were raising money, but their money was just as green. Some bowlers showed up, but it's nice to give people's wallets a break from the candy bars they buy but don't really want.
Another idea is to keep up with the local tournaments. Ask the centers if you can set up a table to benefit YABA. If it's a PBA regional, you might need PBA permission too, but it's a matter of asking and convincing them you won't bother the bowlers on the lanes. Get parents to bake goodies and donate crafts, getting some of the other kids to sit at a table during the event to sell. At a recent WWPB tournament all the pros bought stuff since they remember "what it was like to be a junior."
I like the concept of "double dipping" carwashes, too. Kids get families and friends to sponsor them per car washed. Then on a Saturday, at a bowling center or gas station, they hold up signs for a "free" carwash. Most people driving in off the street will see this as a charity event and offer a comparable donation as well. So the event earns money twice.
Here in Southern California and other places, there is a place called Audiences Unlimited. They pay something like $10 each AND send a bus out to pick up the group to sit through two TV show tapings. This works out nicely if you have "older" juniors, since most shows have a minimum age of 14 or 16. If not, getting families involved in the warming of the seats works too. Grandma and the neighbors can clap for charity too :)
For the parents, there are bus trips to Las Vegas and I'm sure other casino areas. The casinos pay for headcount; the bus company makes enough money from the casino that the trip is usually free or close to it. The bowling group does the recruiting for the trip, so the bus company gives some back. The group can create a nice charitable event. Similar set ups exist for race tracks, too. You preorder tickets at less than face value printed on the ticket, and organize a trip to go. The ticket includes extras that would cost more than the face value if bought separately. The group collects the money, and only pays the preset price. The difference between what was paid in and what was owed the race track belongs to the group.
I'd love to live in a world where price increases weren't an issue, but since they are, I try to be practical. Rather than panic, I want to find ways to diminish the pain of the increase. Youth bowling is a great program, so please work together to keep the kids sanctioned.