The History of Fundraising for Cheerleading

by omni

Cheerleading squads use fundraising throughout their season to help cover the cost of uniforms and supplies, camp and competition fees and sometimes even updates and repairs for school or practice property. Here’s a brief history on how and where fundraising for cheerleading got started. The Father of Modern Fundraising’s Influence on Cheerleading Fundraising Charles Summer Ward did a great thing for fundraising, back in 1905 when he raised $90,000 for a Grand Rapids, MI, YMCA. Charles thought outside of the box by utilizing a combination of modern media and time pressure to achieve that dollar amount in just one week. Around 15 years later, Shirley Windsor would spin Charles’ idea into a crowd-pleasing and highly successful fundraising pep rally. Shirley was part of one of the first cheer squads. His 3-member cheer squad, from the of Kansas, decided to address the issue of their small stadium that didn’t allow them to play home games on their field. Shirley tried to raise funds through cheerleading for a new, bigger stadium by asking alumni for donations, but even after a particularly successful game that had everyone in high spirits, Shirley got shot down. In true cheerleader fashion, Shirley refused to be defeated. Instead, he arranged to get everyone out of class for one hour for an assembly. It was during that one hour that Shirley and his squad gave every ounce of their spirit – and ended up with $60 pledges from 4,000 students. The of Kansas was soon able to upgrade their stadium from 2,000 seats to 30,000 seats. Another Reason Herkie Is The Grandfather You’ve all probably heard of Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer, and have heard him called the “grandfather of modern cheerleading”. But did you know that in addition to running the first cheerleading camp and creating the Herkie jump, he also developed many of the spirit items that are still used today for fundraising efforts? Even more interesting is that many of today’s cheerleading teams have found a way to turn cheer camp into a fundraising opportunity for their squad. Recognizing the popularity of cheerleading, some squads will offer mini-camps at their school for the younger girls in the community. The fees collected for each girl to attend the mini-camp are put into the squad’s budget. As cheerleading grew in popularity and pop culture changed, new and exciting spirit item options emerged and today’s cheer squads sell everything from shirts and hats to poms and temporary tattoos to the crowds at games. These spirit items will always be a favorite. They not only support the team financially, they also support team spirit! Fundraising Efforts Meet The Internet For many years, fundraising efforts were mainly restricted to a community because squads didn’t have the resources to reach out much further than their city limits. Door-to-door fundraising was popular, along with the staple car washes and bake sales. In the 1980s, technology began to forge a path that would drastically change just what cheerleaders were capable of when it came to fundraising. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, most homes in the US had a home computer and access to the Internet. This allowed new forms of fundraising, like cookie dough sales, to emerge. Teams could now urge people to just go to a website to make a purchase or pledge a donation. Then, social media opened up a whole new captive audience, and a quick and easy way to reach them all at once. Using social media, blogs and websites, a small cheer squad can extend their fundraising reach indefinitely. Inspiring others to help cheer for your cause is the best way to raise funds. What are some of your fundraising ideas or stories? Share in the comments below!

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