Best Practices

Being part of a travel sports team is a serious commitment. Parents, coaches, and players all have to put in lots of time and effort for a team to be successful.

At Snap! Spend, we believe that participating in competitive sports develops kids into both better athletes and better people. The principles of hard work, sportsmanship, teamwork, and leadership are just a few of the benefits that come with being on a youth sports team.

As travel teams grow, so too do the administrative needs of the team. Between travel accommodations, scheduling practices, games, and tournaments, ordering new equipment, and keeping up with the finances of the team, it can become overwhelming.

There comes a time when it makes sense to automate team payments to simplify the back-office needs of the team and put the focus back on the field. Here’s why it makes sense for the top teams to do just that.

The Benefits of Automating Youth Sports Payments

1. Get Paid on Time.

By using an automated payment system, travel teams can cut down significantly on missed or late payments. You don’t have to worry anymore about forgotten due dates, misplaced checks, or this month’s cash flow. Getting paid on time makes it easier to run the team and budget each month of the season. Tournament fees due soon? No problem. You can be confident that you’ll be paid on time and have the money for the tournament by the due date.

2. No more time spent collecting checks and running to the bank.

Collecting team payments by hand is a hassle. First, you have to worry about everyone knowing when payments are due. Next, you have to count on coaches, parents, and players to all remember to get the money in on time. Then, you have to stay organized with all of the cash and checks collected, plus spend time running them to the bank. With an automated payment solution, you cut out all of these issues.

3. AutoPay is easier for parents

Between a full-time job, running a family, traveling on weekends with the team, and dozens of other things on their plate, writing a check for travel team dues each month is one additional thing to remember for parents. With AutoPay, parents can be confident that travel team fees will be taken care of each month. Plus, they can work it into their monthly budgets as they’ll know exactly when and how much will be taken out each month. With all that parents put into the team, it makes sense to make paying as easy as possible for them.

4. Know in Seconds What is Paid and What is Owed

Keeping track of team payments can be a logistical nightmare. The team has to keep track of exactly who has paid what, and so do parents. Each payment has to be logged by hand, and there has to be communication between teams and parents about what exactly has been paid and what has not. With a serious travel team organization, organizing team payments can end up taking a large chunk of time. By using team payment software, parents and team administrators can log in at anytime and see exactly what has been paid and what is still owed.

5. It’s Easier To Space Payments Out Across the Season

It’s no secret: travel teams can be expensive. But without a payment system in place, some teams feel the need to take a majority of the fees upfront, rather than space them out evenly over the season. This makes the strain on parents even bigger. The rationale is that the team needs to be able to count on having that money to pay for their upcoming costs. Automating team payments provides teams the confidence that they will continue to get paid on time throughout the full season.

6. Enables Travel Team Organizations To Grow

Some small teams can get away without automating team payments. Sure, it may take time and effort, but maybe someone has volunteered to handle payments for the season. But if your travel team organization wants to have multiple teams at multiple age levels, collecting by hand quickly becomes unsustainable. Imagine trying to keep track of 50+ players across 5+ teams. It becomes a full-time job! Any travel team organization with multiple teams or that expects to grow in the future should have a reliable payment system in place.

7. Cut Coaches Out of The Collection Process

Once payments are automated, coaches can go back to what they do best: developing youth athletes. Oftentimes, coaches get bogged down with a lot of the administrative tasks of a team. This can have a couple of effects. First, coaches can become distracted, and not spend as much time on the actual coaching. And second, this can drain coaches’ passion for the position, as they end up “managing” the team more than coaching it. By automating team payments, coaches can put their full focus back on the field.

8. Add Transparency and Accountability to Team Collections

Without a system, team payments are mostly made in the dark. Recordkeeping can be inconsistent, and occasional disagreements about what has been paid can arise. There have also been instances of embezzlement, such as this New York Times article titled “The Trusted Grown-Ups Who Steal Millions From Youth Sports.” A payment system can add transparency and accountability to this process, and help cut down on these conflicts.

9. Having A Professional System To Stay Organized and Attract Serious Players

A team payment system is a sign that your team runs efficiently and effectively. When top players in your region are looking for a new team, having an automated collections system can be an advantage that you have over other teams. Parents love the system because it makes things easier on them, and having a system in place lets them know that your team is run professionally.

Open a Digital Bank Account with 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.

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.

Youth sports clubs like soccer teams, baseball teams, or many other team sports often ask parents to help volunteer in a financial role. If this is the case, it’s important that your team take special considerations in order to minimize risk exposure for the club and remove liability for the volunteer.

Failing to create a thoughtful, organized money management system for your club could put your team at risk of having incomplete records and being exposed during an audit. This could put a club’s nonprofit status in jeopardy.

In addition, a lack of proper systems and controls could put volunteers at risk for tax liabilities or allegations of misuse by other parents. Unfortunately, there have been many stories about theft/embezzlement in youth sports.

By creating a transparent, thorough money management system, your club will minimize the risk to itself and to its volunteers. In this post, we will go over some of the best practices for your club to create a good foundation for managing its money.

Assign or elect a team treasurer.

The first financial best practice that every team should take is to assign or elect a team treasurer. This will be the person in charge of handling the team’s finances. This person should have adequate bandwidth to perform the tasks outlined in our guide to being a team treasurer.

The team treasurer should be separate from the coach and team manager, and have no relation between them. By having an outside volunteer managing the team’s money, there is separation of control, and your organization’s risk for fraud is decreased.

This is a key step that is needed to follow several of the additional best practices.

The club should open a separate checking account for the team and add the treasurer as an authorized signer

If your team is responsible for its own budget, it needs its own bank account to operate effectively. The club should help set up the team’s checking account. This account should be set up under the club’s EIN for liability purposes, and should never be set up as a personal account.

All team funds should be handled through the team checking account. There should be absolutely no commingling of funds in personal accounts, as this causes tax liability for the volunteer and loss of non-profit status liability to the club.

Payments should never be made using personal Paypal or Venmo accounts, either. These personal accounts cannot be tracked and/or audited by the club. It also creates a liability concern for the volunteer in the event a chargeback or payment dispute occurs.

Having a bank account set up in the team’s name and using it properly is extremely important to managing the team’s money responsibly.

The treasurer should create a budget and reconcile income and expenses monthly.

Before the season begins, the treasurer should create a budget estimating the expenses over the course of the season. This is crucial in determining how much each player will pay and for setting expectations from families about what to expect.

The treasurer should keep a close eye on the budget throughout the season and update the budgets as expenses are incurred. Ideally, expenses are reconciled per player so each family sees the amount they pay and how that money was spent for their child.

Promote the attitude that it is the team’s money. Share the budget with families regularly. Be transparent with where the money is going and what the balance in the bank is.

Keep accurate and complete records (necessary for a audit of your non-profit to stay compliant)

It’s very important for your club to keep accurate and complete records. There’s nothing worse than rumors about misuse of funds, or disputes about what has been paid.

In addition to promoting a culture of financial transparency, keeping complete records will keep your organization compliant in the case of an audit. The following steps are a great place to start:

  • Collect all bank statements on a monthly basis
  • All receipts from expenses should be kept and logged
  • If accepting donations, a receipt should be provided
  • If accepting cash, a receipt needs to be provided to the payer and a copy kept

Open a Digital Bank Account with Groundwork

Here at Groundwork, we make it easy to follow these best practices with our digital banking platform. 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 trackhttps://bank.ground.work/ spending. It’s the easiest way to manage your club’s money.

What Is A Team Treasurer?

The team treasurer plays an important role in any youth sports organization.

Usually a parent volunteer, the treasurer helps the team function by handling the financial side of the game. The team treasurer should be prepared to spend 3-7 hours per week on work related to the role.  Get more details in our Team Treasurer Manual.

What Does A Team Treasurer Do?

BEFORE THE SEASON

Create A Budget

Creating a budget is a crucial first step for a team treasurer. There’s a lot of expenses over the course of a season, and the better a team can plan for them, the more prepared they will be to pay them when the time comes. By creating a good budget before the season starts, teams can set player fees to the right amount and avoid asking for more money halfway through the season.

Some things to make sure you include in your budget are team fees, coaching fees, facility fees, uniforms, equipment  and the cost of the tournaments the team will attend. For more team budget tips, check out our blog post on what you should consider when budgeting for a travel/club sports team.

Once you have a budget of what the team expenses will be, you can break them down into payments for each player. Sharing the budget with players’ parents to show where the fees are going is a good way to add accountability and transparency to the process.

Need help budgeting? At the end of this blog post, you’ll have a chance to download our free, customizable team budget tool!

Open A Team Bank Account

The finances of the team should be handled through a team bank account, not a personal one. A team bank account provides a hub for the team to handle payments, deposits, and checks. If your team is part of a larger club organization, they may already have a bank account where you can create a sub-account for your team.

For example, The Pleasanton Rage, a youth soccer club in California, has a relationship with a bank in the area that offers them free team checking accounts and free checks.

If you want more information on opening a team bank account, check out our recent blog post: How To Set Up a Bank Account For A Youth Sports Team.

DURING THE SEASON

Collect Money

During the season, it’s the treasurer’s job to collect money owed to the team and deposit it in the team bank account. This is primarily the process of collecting team fees from parents, but also includes money from fundraisers and sponsorships.

Payment collection varies from team to team, as some teams stick to cash and checks as methods of payment, while others use Paypal or an online tool. Here at Snap! Spend, we created a system to streamline the payment collection process for youth sports teams and clubs. It gives parents an easy way to pay online, making the process easier on both parents and team treasurers.

Interested in Snap! Spend? Head over to our full website to learn more and/or schedule a demo.

Pay Out and Track Expenses

Another major part of a treasurer’s role is to pay out money for team expenses. When it’s time to pay for next month’s tournament, or the team needs a new bucket of baseballs, it’s the treasurer’s job to pay out the money from the team account.

It’s also the job of the treasurer to track and record each of these expenses as they occur. You can compare the log of actual expenses to the estimated figures in the budget created before the season. This will show you whether the team is over- or under-budget in different areas.

For example, the team may be spending slightly less on tournaments than expected, but slightly more than expected on equipment and practices. This is information that you can relay to coaches and parents.

Communicate Finances With Team and Parents

As mentioned in the section above, communicating what’s happening with the team’s finances is important for the team to stay on budget throughout the season. Reports are a great way to keep everyone on the same page.

The structure of your organization will have some impact on who you send reports to and how often. Many larger-sized clubs have a Director of Finance that a treasurer should have regular communication with. In smaller clubs, the head coach may want to receive reports on an ongoing basis.

It’s important to also keep parents up-to-date with their payments. Sending reminders for upcoming payment dates, letting parents know what they have paid and what they owe, and communicating any upcoming potential expenses are all tasks that a team treasurer should do on an ongoing basis throughout the season.

Deal With Unexpected Issues That Arise

There are situations that arise during the season which will involve team finances. A player gets injured, a parent doesn’t want to pay fees, someone quits the team – How do you deal with that?

While you can’t predict what the exact situation will be, you can build a buffer into the budget at the beginning of the season to account for these situations. This ensures you are prepared for a situation during the season that could have an impact on the team’s finances. If the team doesn’t end up needing this extra money, it can always be refunded to parents at the end of the season.

These situations are usually taken on a case-by-case basis, but with the buffer in place, there’s room for more flexibility in coming to a fair agreement between teams and parents.

AFTER THE SEASON

Handle Remaining Money in Team Account

At the end of the season, it is the treasurer’s responsibility to execute whatever end-of-season plan the team has for leftover money. Some teams refund the money evenly to parents, while others prefer to roll it over to the next season.

Some teams choose to have a team banquet or buy a gift for the coaches after the season ends. Coordinating this effort with parents is another task that a team treasurer may be asked to do.

Create a Final Report

Creating a final report is the final step for the team treasurer. The report should show how much money came in and how the money was spent over the course of the season.

In addition to being transparent with the team’s financials, the final report will serve as a great resource for creating a budget for the following season.

Open A Digital Bank Account with Snap! Spend

Here at Snap! Spend, our digital bank account has everything you need to manage your team or club finances. Snap! Spend helps you budget for expenses, track player dues, accept online payments and track spending all integrated with your digital bank account.