The Bend Pickleball Club began 3 years ago with just a few players. Now there are over 600 players in the Central Oregon area.
This phenomenal growth is due to the work of A. J. and Irene Fraties and a team of pickleball ambassadors. Clinics, classes and demos were offered at private clubs. Soon the new pickleball players needed more places to play. The Fraties reached out to different types of organizations, they were eventually able to get some indoor courts at the Boys and Girls Club.
Ease of access to courts was facilitated by an online scheduling program. Members could schedule their playtimes and keep track of where and when people were playing.
In the meantime, the City of Bend was considering building more public outdoor Pickleball courts. Being that pickleball was still a new sport in the area, the city wasn’t interested in putting a lot money into new facilities. However, pickleball grew. The ambassadors were able to show the city that courts would be heavily used and greatly enjoyed.
A cooperative project developed between the Bend Pickleball Club and the city of Bend. The club offered to pay 50% of the court costs. The city gave the club two years to come up with their portion of the funding for the new courts. The Pickleball club had to get busy!
The first and easiest fundraising strategy was to place a simple plea for donations on the club website. The club used an online donation system that worked well. Secondly, the club hosted a large dinner party with a silent auction and raffle. Third, the club recruited sponsors. Their first sponsor was a large RV company in the area named Big Country RV. Big Country RV is very involved with the Bend community. Fourth, the Bend Pickleball Club is hosting a large Pickleball Tournament. Tournament sponsors can have a large company banner displayed on the fence of the courts for a full year and advertisements on the Bend Pickleball website, Facebook page and all social media. The Bend Pickleball Club is well on their way to earning all the funds for their new courts.
It was important that they work together with the city in a cooperative effort, focusing on the needs of both the city and the club. In doing that, the project is coming along nicely and they are excited to soon having a new place to play Pickleball
1. Develop Need. If there’s not a visible component showing the need of people wanting to play, nothing will get done.
2. Ambassador Program. Start beginning training – classes, demos, clinics. Build your ambassadors so there is a strong group to help build the growth of the sport in your area.
3. Media. Make sure the press knows what’s going on so you can get articles written and gain support from your community.
4. Identify facilities. Zero in on a community facility where people can play.
5. Actual needs. Develop your funding plan around the actual needs of the group.