Bill Lennon

There’s so much to think about when you’re planning the season for a travel or club sports team. No matter the sport, there are a lot of pieces that have to come together in order for each member of the team to have everything they need. Keeping a team functioning can be an expensive endeavor, and there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through the season and realizing you don’t have enough money to cover everything.

The best way to make sure your team doesn’t end up overspending is to have a solid budget before the season starts. When your budget is done right, it makes everything else go much more smoothly. You and the players’ parents know exactly what needs to be paid for, and how much it will cost, so that you don’t end up being caught off guard by unexpected expenses.

Creating a good budget is often harder than you think. Some costs can sneak up on you if you aren’t prepared, and a team’s needs can change from season to season. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re creating your team’s budget to make the process as painless as possible.

Plan for Your Team’s Specific Needs

Some sports are more expensive than others, but even within the same sport, team budgets can vary quite a bit. For example, if your team has a paid coach, your budget will be considerably higher than a team with an unpaid parent coach. Other factors that impact your expenses are the number of tournaments you compete in and the distance you have to travel.

To give you an idea of how drastic the difference can be, here are two sample budgets for teams playing the same sport.

The first team’s budget is more than triple that of the second team due to having a paid coach and participating in lots of tournaments that require travel and overnight trips.

Our point is, you can’t just use a generic budget for your sport based off of another team’s expenses. In order to really plan for the season and make sure all your costs are covered, you need to create a custom budget that’s tailored to your team’s needs.

Coaching Fees. Coaching fees vary considerably. One rule of thumb is $150-$250 per player. For a 12 player team that’s $1,800 – $3,000. Having paid coaches also involves paying for their travel — transportation, lodging and meals. This varies based on the number of tournaments and distance traveled. Parents that coach usually pay for themselves since they’re already traveling for their child anyway.

Facility Fees . You’ll need somewhere to practice. Field rentals can be anywhere from $25-$150 per practice. This largely depends on your geography and type of field.

Uniforms. Uniforms can also vary considerably depending on the quality, level of customization and number of uniforms per player you’re looking for. Expect $75-$300 per player.

Sanction Registration & Team Insurance. To register your team with a governing body like USSSA or AAU is usually around $50. You can also usually get your team insured through these organizations for $100-$300.

Tournaments. Tournaments range anywhere from $200 – $1500 to enter. You’ll want to plan early and register as far in advance to get your spot.

Have a Backup Plan for Players Who Leave the Team

When a team member drops out in the middle of the season, it often creates tension between the coach or manager and the player’s parents. The team still needs the same amount of money to cover costs, but the parents may not want to continue paying for a team their child is no longer a part of. If they paid for everything up front, they may even request a refund.

We suggest building “insurance” into your budget so that you’re covered if you find yourself in this situation. At the end of the season, if no players have left the team and you collected more money than you ended up spending for team expenses, you can simply refund the remainder. If you’re open with parents about the extra expense, it’s much easier than having to ask for more money later or trying to make up the difference yourself.

Consider Sharing the Budget with Parents

Some parents may feel like team fees are too expensive because they aren’t aware of just how many expenses the team has. Making the budget available to parents helps them to understand exactly where their money is going and that every dollar they’re paying is necessary. It shows them that you’re organized and that you’ve thought through everything that needs to happen in order to make the team successful.

You may think that sharing your budget with parents will just open the floodgates to tons of questions and phone calls, but often, it does just the opposite. If each item in your budget is clear and easy to understand, parents won’t need to ask questions about fees because the budget explains it all. If your team has a website, you can even publish your budget there to make it easier for them to access.

Automate Collections with Snap! Spend to Keep Things Simple

Finalizing your budget is just the beginning—now you have to actually collect the money from parents, and that can be a stressful task. With high team fees, most parents will want to pay you over time. You should determine how much you need to collect up front and each month and set a clear payment plan for parents.

This presents another hurdle, staying organized and getting paid on time. Let us do all the work for you by sending out automatic payment reminders, allowing parents to pay online, and keeping track of who has and hasn’t paid. Once you input all the team fees for the season, you can forget about the money and focus on the kids.

The Bottom Line

Creating a budget is never going to be the most exciting part of coaching or managing a team, but it doesn’t have to be a headache, either. Planning ahead saves you a ton of trouble down the line, and prevents the stress of having to ask parents for more money halfway through the season.

Coaches, what are your biggest challenges in creating a team budget? What do you think about sharing your budget with parents? We’d love to hear your suggestions and experiences!

About Snap! Spend

Here at Snap! Spend, we’re dedicated to making managing your club’s money easy, starting with opening a bank account. Snap! Spend’s digital banking platform gives you an online bank account with built in online payments to collect dues and budgeting tools to track spending. It’s the easiest way to manage your club’s money.

Managing money for a youth sports team can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. There’s a lot to keep track of, and you want to make sure that you are doing things the right way. Because of that, we’ve put together a list of tips for managing money specifically for youth sports organizations.

Elect a Team Treasurer

One of the first steps for your youth sports team to take to effectively manage its money is to elect a treasurer to handle the financial responsibilities of the team. Ideally, this will be someone other than the coach. Many of the tips listed in this post, such as building a budget, opening a bank account and building a payment plan, will be the responsibility of the treasurer. For more info on a treasurer’s responsibilities, check out our full blog post.

Open a Separate Bank Account and Don’t Commingle Funds

Youth sports teams need a bank account in order to operate effectively. These bank accounts should not be a personal bank account, and should instead be set up in the team’s name. Team money should not be commingled with any of the coaches’ or officers’ personal bank accounts as this could result in undesirable legal or tax implications. Having a separate bank account sets your team up for successful money management, and allows you to perform necessary functions like collecting checks in the team’s name and paying out expenses from the team’s account.

Build a budget

Building a budget is one of the first orders of business for team planning as it determines how much each player will pay. It’s important for setting expectations for families and getting financial commitments from families.. We’ve put together a few tips to help you create an effective budget..

  1. Overestimate expenses — things like travel, hotels, gas aren’t always exactly predictable ahead of time. Overestimate things because it’s always easier to give money back than it is asking for more.
  2. Try to budget for as many expenses as you can foresee or put placeholders for the expected number of tournaments/travel. Also consider whether families will pay for travel on their own or if the team will pay.
  3. Consider scholarships and how they will affect your team budget. If one player is getting a scholarship, you will need to collect more from other players to make up for this. Having one player on a partial scholarship is very common.
  4. Update the budget as expenses are incurred. Make it a part of your routine, and don’t fall behind!
  5. Be transparent: Share the budget with families regularly. There’s nothing worse than rumors about the misuse of funds. Share the team bank balance as well. Take steps to promote the attitude that it’s “our money.”
  6. Have the goal of giving money back at the end of the season.

Building a budget from scratch? Consider using our free team budgeting template.

Consider fundraising options

Fundraising can help bring down the costs that parents will need to contribute to the team. If doing fundraising, make sure to closely track all of the money that your team raises. If tracking fundraising on a per player basis, still have each player commit to making monthly payments. The fundraising revenue they generate will then lower the amount of future unpaid payments owed. Interested in a platform to help your team fundraise? We recommend checking out Snap! Raise!

Build a payment plan

Creating a payment plan is a great way to collect payments throughout the season, rather than have all of the money due at the beginning of the season. However, this does mean that you need to be especially thoughtful in how you set up and follow through on this payment plan, because you don’t want to run out of funds halfway through the season.

We recommend requiring a deposit or commitment fee up front to join the team along with creating a financial commitment agreement for parents to sign. This helps filter out players that aren’t serious or families that aren’t reliable. We also recommend frontloading payments to help mitigate missed/late payments throughout the season.

When creating the payment plan, take the budget and divide by the number of players, minus one or two. This helps ensure you have enough money even if you don’t fill out the team or a player drops during the season. Again, have the goal of giving money back at the end of the season, rather than having to go hat-in-hand to parents asking them to pay more.

We also recommend automating payments and reminders. This helps teams collect payments on time, and eliminate time spent chasing checks and sending payment reminders.

Open a Digital Bank Account with Groundwork

Here at Groundwork, we’re dedicated to making managing your club’s money easy, starting with opening a bank account. Groundwork’s digital banking platform gives you an online bank account with built in online payments to collect dues and budgeting tools to track spending. It’s the easiest way to manage your club’s money.

One of the questions we’re asked the most often here at Snap! Spend is, “Why should I use your service instead of PayPal?” After all, PayPal is easy to use and practically everyone has an account.

But while PayPal is useful for simple, one-time payments, any parent or coach who has ever been responsible for collecting payments for sports teams knows that the process is anything but simple. PayPal doesn’t have any features that make it easier to deal with the complexity that comes with collecting payments for a sports team.

And that’s where Snap! Spend really shines. We want to make collecting and paying for team fees as hassle free as possible, whether you’re a parent or a team organizer. We keep track of everything so that you don’t have to—no more trying to remember when a payment is due, or which parents you still need to collect payments from.

From signup to the end of the season, Snap! Spend takes the burden out of team fees so that you can spend more time coaching, watching, and cheering on your budding athletes.

Automated Payment Reminders

A huge part of the job of a team manager or organizer is getting ahold of parents to remind them of fees that need to be paid. It’s tedious and time consuming, and if you have to remind someone multiple times, it can get a little awkward.

PayPal allows you to request payments, but you have to manually input each transaction. With Snap! Spend, it’s all automated, taking away the burden from both the organizer and the parents. We send out email reminders for upcoming, past due, and failed payments so that you don’t have to spend time making phone calls or sending emails to track down missing payments.

Custom Payments for Each Player

Sometimes, different players on a team will owe different amounts in team fees depending on their circumstances. With Snap! Spend, you can award scholarships to excellent students or give discounts to kids’ whose parents volunteer on the team—for any situation, you can create a custom payment amount on a per player basis.

At-A-Glance Summary of Collections

If you’re the team organizer, there’s no need to keep track of who has and hasn’t made payments—you can log in to Snap! Spend and see a real-time summary of the status of your collections in seconds, including offline transactions made by check or cash.

Even if you manage more than one team, you can see everything in one place on your dashboard. It’s like combining your email, bank account, and team roster all in one convenient place.

With PayPal, you can check to see whether or not payments have been made, but each payment is treated as a one-off transaction, so by the time you’ve checked them all you haven’t saved much time over the traditional method of calling parents one by one.

Parents: Pay How and When You Want

When you sign up for Snap! Spend, you can choose whether you want to pay using a credit or debit card, or have the payment taken straight out of your bank account using an electronic transfer.

You can either pay for everything all at once at the beginning of the season, or choose to make each individual payment as it comes due by enrolling in autopay. This way, you can pay your child’s team fees on a schedule that fits into your budget.

If you decide to pay in installments, automatic billing will take each payment out of your account on the day that it’s due without requiring you to do anything. Once it’s set up, we do all the work for you.

Parents: Keep Complete Control Over Your Information and Billing

Snap! Spend will never bill you without permission, even if you’ve already signed up for automatic payments. You can log in to your account and make a change to your billing information anytime.

If your card expires or you change bank accounts, it’s easy to update your information so that your scheduled payments go through without any problems. You can also sign in to your account to stop payments, change your payment method, or leave the team anytime.

The Bottom Line

Our goal is to take as much of the work out of organizing and managing a sports team as possible so that you can focus on what you’re really there for—the team itself. As one of our customers, Matt G., said, “Snap! Spend makes everything automatic and frees me up to coach.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Here at Snap! Spend, we’re dedicated to making managing your club’s money easy, starting with opening a bank account. Snap! Spend’s digital banking platform gives you an online bank account with built in online payments to collect dues and budgeting tools to track spending. It’s the easiest way to manage your club’s money.

Dealing with refunds is a common friction point between sports teams and parents. Parents want them and teams don’t want to give them. At Groundwork, we see these situations from both sides since we help parents pay and teams collect. Each side has its own perspective, and they both make sense.

The parents’ point of view is understandable. If a player leaves the team mid-season, parents want to be refunded the team fees they’ve paid for the remainder of the season. They feel like they’re being asked to pay for something they’re no longer getting.

But the team’s perspective is also understandable and is often overlooked by people who have never managed a team and don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Running a travel or club sports team isn’t just a lot of work, it can be a complicated and expensive operation.

Teams have to budget and pay for tournaments, practice facilities, gear, travel, coaching stipends, insurance, and administration costs (just to name a few). If a player drops from the team, none of these costs change. The team still has to pay the same amount, but their revenue drops by 1/12th.

So, the money that you’re paying as a parent isn’t just for your child, it’s for the team as a whole to be able to function. In order for teams to exist, they require a no refund policy.

But what about teams that collect monthly to cover costs throughout the season rather than charging for everything up front? If a player leaves the team, most parents won’t want to keep making the monthly payments since their child is no longer playing, so how do you plan for this situation so that your team doesn’t end up going over budget?

We suggest you build in a buffer when you budget for your season as “insurance” for a player who drops from the team. It can help prevent your team from collecting less than you need to pay for everything, and it lets team managers avoid those awkward conversations with parents. If there’s extra left over at the end of the season, you can distribute it to parents or bank it for next season.

We’d love to hear from both team organizers and parents on this situation. What are your thoughts on how to make it work for everyone?

As part of Snap! Spend’s goal to share best practices and help educate youth sports organizers, we’ve invited special guest author, Monica Burgeson CPA, to share her expertise on managing team bank accounts. Monica is the Former CFO of Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club (formerly Colorado Storm Soccer Association) where she managed over 300 team bank accounts. She specializes in nonprofit management and advises the Colorado Soccer Association on financial best practices for youth soccer organizations. Prior to working with nonprofit organizations, Monica worked as a CPA for PwC’s audit and assurance practice.  She currently serves as the Director of Finance for the US Center for SafeSport.

Introduction

Many nonprofit organizations establish a cash management policy after cash has gone unaccounted for, or even gone missing.  Given their lack of resources, it’s common for nonprofits to have volunteers handling money, which creates more opportunities for money to be mishandled. As a result, millions of dollars go missing every year in youth sports alone.

As youth sports organizations grow larger, many utilize team bank accounts that are managed by volunteer team treasurers. This enables teams to operate semi-autonomously and minimize the burden on the club administrators. While this can provide a win-win for the club and team for operating flexibility and cost, it creates risks for the club when not managed correctly.

The Center for Fraud Prevention, which helps youth sports associations fight theft and embezzlement, describes three reasons why youth sports organizations are uniquely vulnerable to fraud:

  1. Members are volunteers and managing the money is a job that no one wants. This results in treasurers who have little financial experience and a situation ripe for abuse.
  2. The organization lacks formal structure and systems of oversight and accountability of volunteers handling money.
  3. Volunteers are part of the community they serve. This creates an environment of trust which weakens oversight and emboldens volunteers willing to steal from the organization.

In this article, we’ll talk about how clubs that utilize team bank accounts can do so with confidence.

Risks of improper management of team accounts

The first step in effective management of team accounts is to gain an awareness of the specific risks involved when volunteers manage money and act as official signers on team bank accounts.

Risk #1: The team treasurer goes rogue

One of the most common occurrences with volunteers handling team bank accounts is that the team treasurer goes rogue and mishandles team funds in some way. This can range from the relatively benign — like not following the club’s policy on how to reimburse coaching expenses — to outright theft.

It’s important to remember that team funds are the collective funds of families who pool their resources for the benefit of the team. When a team treasurer goes rogue, they are stealing from all of the families. When money goes missing, families will look to your club to rectify the situation.

But the loss to a club isn’t just financial. When money is mishandled, families assign blame to the club for poor oversight, and the club suffers potentially long-term reputational damage with the community.

Risk #2: Club administration is not accountable to its members, donors or funders

Club administrators are often not able to answer questions about how much money is being held in a team bank accounts because volunteers are in charge of establishing and maintaining these accounts.  Although the team accounts are set up under the umbrella of the club, funds are managed by volunteers, so club administrators do not see how much each player/family has contributed to an account.  Clubs may not be notified when donations have been made, or if each player is not contributing his/her fair share.  When issues with team accounting arise, members expect the club to step in to resolve the issue and cover any outstanding balances.  Moreover, volunteers are put in an uncomfortable position to manage team financial matters.  This often leads to issues beyond inaccurate financial reporting, such as team turmoil and loss of players.

Risk #3: The club fails an audit for insufficient financial controls

A major part of any outside audit is examining the financial controls of an organization. Auditors will see team accounts as an extension of the club and look for systems of accountability and control over these funds. Not having effective financial oversight and controls over team funds is a risk for clubs failing an external audit.

In order to minimize, or even eliminate these risks, a club must establish best practices related to how they handle team accounts and volunteers.

Best Practice #1: Establish financial controls

In this section, we share prescriptive advice for how clubs should establish financial controls over team accounts.

The club should open and control team bank accounts

The only way for the club to establish financial controls over team funds is for the club to control the team bank account. Giving the club the ability to access bank records and remove signers from the account provides the most basic level of financial oversight.

In a similar vein, clubs should prohibit the use of personal Venmo or PayPal accounts to collect payments from families since clubs have no visibility or control into these accounts.  Even if these accounts are only set up for the team, volunteers must provide personal information and the accounts are not transferable.

Establish clubs policies in a team handbook

The club should set “ground rules” for how team treasurers manage money, including the club’s policies on acceptable expenses, record keeping and ways of doing team fundraising.  Any donations made to the team should go through club administrators, not directly to team accounts.  The Colorado Rapids Team Treasurer Handbook is an excellent example of a well thought out set of ground rules.

Note from Snap! Spend: Snap! Spend provides all of our customers with a Snap! Spend Team Treasurer Handbook Template as a starting point for them to create their own handbook for using Snap! Spend’s all-in-one team financial management solution with built-in oversight and controls.

Establish and review team budgets

One of the best ways team treasurers can communicate the financial plan for the season is to complete and distribute a team budget to all players and families. To make this an effective tool, the club should create a uniform template for team treasurers and require that it is completed, and turned in to club administration, prior to the team’s first game (or some other deadline established by the club). The team budget, or team plan, should include all tournament registrations fees, trips and travel expenses, plus any other events that will involve team coordination and payments.

It is important for clubs to remember that volunteer team treasurers may not be familiar with how to complete a budget template, so it should also come with clear instructions.  Lastly, the club should periodically review the budget vs actual spending, or at the very least when the season ends. Reviews ensure that team spending is in-line with club policy; moreover, communicating to treasurers that reviews will be performed and records must be kept creates an environment that is less prone to abuse. If time is limited, a random sample of teams can be reviewed instead.

Best Practice #2: Account for team funds

Part of any external audit will require clubs to provide the balances and monthly reconciliations of their cash accounts. Cash is classified as assets of the club. This can include operating accounts, savings accounts and investment accounts.

Classify team bank accounts as “pass-through” accounts

A common concern for clubs is that, by controlling team bank accounts, the club has to record and reconcile each account, or account for the cash in each account as income.  The reality is that the cash in the team accounts is not an asset of the club. Since team accounts function to pool money from families to pay for team expenses and the money does not belong to the club, clubs can classify team bank accounts as ‘pass through’ accounts, and carry the balance of these accounts as a liability account on their balance sheet.

It’s important to remember that team funds are not the club’s money — it belongs to the families, and the club is a temporary steward of the money to ensure accountability until the money is disbursed. At the end of the season, if any funds remain, they should be returned to the families, or applied to next season’s team expenses if the families continue with the team into the next season.

As teams funds are spent, the amount recorded on the balance sheet decreases. Clubs can track this liability as the total sum of the balances of all team accounts. The club does not need to reconcile every transaction, but should ensure that teams do.

Note from Snap! Spend: using our digital banking platform allows clubs to easily see and export the balances in each team account in real-time while providing an ongoing sum of all accounts so you can easily perform club accounting functions.

When discussing team accounts with auditors

If the club undergoes an external audit, they will have to explain the concept of team accounts and sufficiently document the controls that are in place to manage team accounts. Clubs will need to point out that, since the club does not provide services to ‘earn’ the money in the team accounts, it is not classified as income to the club.  Similarly, clubs will need to explain that team accounts are not assets of the club and, therefore, are not subject to the same testing or reconciliations that are required for the club’s operating accounts.

The control documentation should include the process of opening a team account, the requirement of submitting team budgets, plus dissemination of the treasurer handbook.  It should also detail the monitoring and reviews that are completed by club administration.

The bottom line

Team accounts managed by volunteers can be a great way to enable teams in your club to operate autonomously, while simultaneously minimizing the burden on the club administration. When going this route, it’s essential to establish effective financial controls and accounting for team funds.

Today I’m so excited to announce that Groundwork has been acquired by Snap! Mobile, Inc. makers of Snap Raise, the leading fundraising solution for teams, youth clubs, groups and schools.

Over the last few months, we’ve been in discussions with Snap Mobile about ways we could work together. Through that process three things became evident. First, we share a common vision and desire to have a positive impact on leaders in youth sports. Second, we share a lot of customers who get tremendous value from both products. And finally, by joining forces we can accelerate how quickly we achieve our shared vision.

I could not be more excited about this next chapter together.

A Bold Future Together

The first thing I want you to know is we are just getting started. If you like what we’ve done so far, just wait until you see what we have in store for you. Our goal is to give you tools that you’ve never had before that make your lives easier and enable you to better champion kids. Snap! Mobile, Inc. just announced a $90M financing led by Elysian Park Ventures that will give us the resources to build truly transformational solutions.

The second thing I want you to know is Snap Mobile is just like Groundwork in the most important ways and has an audacious vision to impact kids’ lives.  Snap Mobile is customer obsessed, mission driven, and led by a visionary founder. Cole Morgan, Cole began his journey on the football field as a college QB before transitioning to a fundraising product sales rep. After years of this work, he realized there had to be a better way, which led him to start Snap Raise and digitize fundraising. Because he’s experienced first-hand the issues with fundraising and managing youth sports, he’s committed to making a better solution for youth sports leaders.

Through this process, Cole and I have been in lockstep and I’m confident that our shared passion for innovation will push us to create a seamless product capable of enabling teams, clubs and organizations to successfully fundraise, track, manage and run wildly successful and transparent programs.

Charging Forward, Solving Key Needs

The third thing I want you to know is that our team will continue to charge forward on Groundwork. I will oversee the Groundwork product as the Vice President of Financial Technology and the incredibly passionate Groundwork team will join the Snap! team to continue to serve you. Our roadmap is still laser focused on the things you’ve told us are most important to you: income budgeting, receipt tracking and more user roles. And now, we’ll have more resources to get these features shipped even faster. In the long term, we’ll be integrating fundraising and other tools that will make your life easier.

Lastly, I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone who’s made this possible: our customers, employees, investors, and everyone who believed in us. I’d like to call out our amazing team who built Groundwork from the ground up: Aaron Simkin, Haw-minn Lu, Mike Tsui, Kevin Woodley, Katie Simon, Sam Raker, Emily Chau, Anthony Ho and Nick Bragg. Special thanks to my co-founder James Bergeron and our investors M2O Inc who supported us since the beginning. Thank you all for being a part of this journey.

Take a moment to learn more about Snap! Mobile and what the acquisition means for you.

Bill Lennon
Co-Founder & CEO, Groundwork
VP Financial Technology, Snap! Mobile, Inc.