There are countless things your team can do to brighten the holidays for your community while increasing the team’s exposure. The stadium is available 365 but we only open it to the public about 30 times a year. Let’s change that and, in the process, grow your audience for spring.
Every day teams have the opportunity to connect with their community in far-reaching, long-lasting ways. Many teams already do a few small, private appearances, like annual visits to children’s hospitals. These opportunities can offer a side benefit too that many teams fail to take into consideration, awareness.
Eeach time the team goes to a charitable event you don’t want a camera crew in tow. That would not only be self-serving but tacky. There are however tons of ways to give, and to get your community involved, all while expanding the team’s reach to people outside their immediate fan base.
Here are some effective, one-day-commitment events that will help you grow the team’s reach.
Want fans for life? Visit your local Ronald McDonald House. There are more than 324 houses in 32 countries. Since 1985, Ronald McDonald Houses across Europe have saved countless families of seriously ill children the personal and financial drain of traveling away from their kids during treatment
Providing a “home away from home” children and their families, including siblings, stay at the house. There are houses in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
Your club can arrange to bring dinner to the home then hang out with the families and children for a night. You are welcome to come as you are and bring pizza, cook a meal, play games and interact with the families. They welcome the company and the few hours of distraction can really be a nice escape for the siblings. When the kids are ready to go home, make sure they’ve got a signed ball, cap or sticker to share with their friends as they tell them all about the fun you had together. Kids love to talk and explore the net so leave the right impression and the social media machine will take care of the rest.
Holidays are great but what’s holding your team back from giving throughout the year? Create a community meal at the park. This can be done in any way imaginable but here are five quick ideas:
International Day: Serve cuisine from some of the international restaurants or players and invite hostel guests and the community at large to experience dinner around the world. Set up each station with facts about the country the food represents. Have some traditional games or dress up items for the kids to try out. This can be done independently but if your community already has an event like this, offer to host it.
Pizza Night: Host an event, like a pizza or pasta night, and tie the community’s participation to a canned food drive. Entry cost is a non-perishable food item. Those items then get given to the local food pantry. Alternatively, you can offer the night as a way to raise money for a big trip you’re going on with the team or help out a local school by letting them sell slices for uniform money. If there is a person in need in your baseball community, use it as a fundraiser.
Migrant Day: Many communities around Europe have thousands of new faces this year. One idea is have a community potluck dinner. People bring food with them and everyone gathers to get to know one another. Hosted at the park, use the concessions area to help with food prep and set up. It’s an opportunity for neighbors to get to know one another so invite the refugees and go to the local churches and other support communities – such as Amnesty International, Consulates and EU/UN offices - to increase involvement.
Helping Others Day: Coordinating with your local charities – churches, foster care centers and domestic violence/homeless shelters. Provide a meal and a night of games with some of the folks who have less in your area. You can borrow board games, cards and puzzles from the community.
Elder Day: Provide a midday event for elders in your community. Make sure to host it indoors or in heated tents and have your international players and the team staff on-hand, as well as any players with the day off work. We recommend co-coordinating with an after school program so you have elders and children playing games together with snacks, such as fruit or veggie platters and some treats. This gives lonely elders a chance to interact with families and it provides parents the opportunity to pick their children up from the park where you can have camp information available as they learn about the team. It also lets the elders out for an adventure and away from the pension for a day. Most elder care facilities have events coordinators and buses to help make arrangements a breeze.
We recommend tying participation in any of the meals to a canned food drive to give your special guests take home prizes that will mean the world to them.
Host “A Day of Giving” at the park this winter. Most local teams have some sort of holiday gathering where they invite fans to the stadium to hang out with the players and enjoy refreshments. Why not do some good while everyone’s together? Not only will everyone’s spirits be lifted but the chances of growing your community – through media coverage and community awareness – are exponential.
Naturally an event of any magnitude (and this one can be as big or small as you like) should include public awareness in order to encourage participation. Work with your local news agencies – TV, radio, newspaper, bloggers and podcasters – to spread the word. Create a press release outlining the event and distribute it to each outlet sending it to the attention of their News, Sports, Culture and Community Outreach departments. Each department determines, independent of the others, what to cover so be sure to follow up with each. Plaster it across your social media and ask your fans to share.
A Day of Giving Events:
Coordinate a Food & Toy Drive with the Salvation Army. Everyone in the community is welcome to the party. Entry is only granted with a non-perishable food item or wrapped toy.
Host a Blood Drive at the park with the Red Cross. You can reward givers with a “Give a Pint, get a Pic” booth. Inside the mobile or at the end, you can have players take photos with the donors using a photo booth or instant camera with a souvenir frame.
Have a giving tree at the party. Coordinate with your local shelters or government agencies (this will vary by country) to find some less fortunate families, elders and individuals in your community. Add their names and details to a giving tree. When people arrive, they will find paper cards with details of the people they can help hanging from the trees like ornaments.
They pick a person to assist and all the details – from family sizes, to needs and delivery information – are included on the card. Those who give get to take. Have fan grab bags filled with team merchandise or autographed balls under the tree. Those who take a card are welcome to a bag with the team’s personal thanks. Coordinate the gift drop off details ahead of time and include that information in every grab bag so people take it with them.
Cookie Drive: You can have a cookie-decorating table at the event and encourage community bakers by having cookie contests or even a cookie exchange. The end game of this idea is to have bakers leave with something for themselves, a platter of different cookies, a decorated creation or a prize, but also to leave something behind for a random act of kindness. If kids decorate, for example, cookies they decorate for themselves they keep while the parent decorates one for giving.
If there is a cookie exchange, tell each participant in advance how many cookies to bring and include five for giving. Five of every cookie will be used for the random act of kindness. If bakers bake for prizes, they get the prize and the cookies get left for the act of kindness.
So, who benefits from the cookies in the end? Everybody who participates should have the option to tag along for a random act of kindness. The team can donate the cookies to one or a variety (depending on donations and rules in your area) of community service areas including firehouses, ranger stations, local hospitals and police stations.
You can do one, some or all of these events and you can do them separately or together. The point of making an event is the bigger your gathering, the larger the outreach.
Of course, you don’t have to do these only during the holiday season either. Do events regularly throughout the year, in conjunction with your other charitable works, and soon the news of there being a baseball/softball team in town will be hard to miss.
Here’s your inspiration