A Day at the Races is an action packed, exciting day that excites the punter in us all! And for those who aren’t into the punting there is always the opportunity to dress up and enjoy a social occasion with friends and teammates.
Local Turf Clubs are very open to partnering with sports clubs to help promote their race days, offering local sports clubs the ability to buy race day naming rights as well as individual race naming rights and as a result raise revenue by on-selling these rights onto sponsors.
Clubs can also work with the local Turf Club to run a “Fashions on the Field” contest and raise revenue via an entrance fee to the competition as well as offering sponsors naming rights.
There are many formats for this type of fundraising event. Clubs may choose to host the event in a marquee or hire a room, or simply have the event in the general admission sections. Clubs may choose to provide an all-inclusive package including transport, entry, food and drink or they may decide to leave it to the members to get to the event and feed themselves.
Race Day fundraising is not for the faint hearted. It involves significant work to manage in order to achieve a return on the time investment, but, if marketed and promoted effectively, the returns in terms of sponsorship revenue can be considerable.
To maximize the revenue-raising potential of this event, your club should aim to buy the rights for a local race day from the local Turf Club and then on-sell these rights to sponsors to raise revenue.
Clubs could buy the rights using their own funds but most clubs are not in a financial position to do this so securing sponsorship funds up front is the key.
Sponsorship funds can be secured by offering naming rights for the race day to local business partners as well as naming rights for each of the races on the card.
This type of event requires significant marketing support, and a detailed marketing and promotions plan will need to be developed to help convince potential sponsors to come onboard and financially support the event (see our information on 'Sponsorship and attracting sponsors').
Marketing plans should include free marketing tools such as social media campaigns, club website, newsletter and noticeboard notices. Clubs should also consider paid media such as local newspapers and signage to improve their chances of attracting a crowd and therefore sponsorship revenue.
Revenue raising opportunities are many and varied in the Race Day fundraising format.
a) Sponsorship dollars via the offer of naming rights to business partners for the race day as a whole, or naming rights to individual races. The race club may also provide signage opportunities that your club can on-sell to sponsors as well as race book promotion.
b) Fashions on the field entry fee and naming rights
c) Negotiate an entry and catering price with the race club then add a margin to that to make up the ticket price for club members. The mark up represents revenue for the club. Catering packages can be sit down or finger-food and may or may not include alcohol.
d) Sweep for the major race on the card.
e) Raffle tickets for sale to club members and the general public for a sponsor-provided prize.
f) An opportunity to sell club merchandise to club members and the general public: stubbie holders, caps, etc.
Licences and Permits
The advantage of holding a fundraiser at a fully licensed facility is that all staff and security for the day will be included in the package price.
Factors to Consider
FoodSome Turf Clubs, such as those that run Picnic Races, allow patrons to bring their own food, but most provide a variety of catering packages.
Generally, options include:
Payment is ‘per head’ so it is worth considering the decrease in cost for finger food if you are able to attract more than 200 people to the event.
DrinksPicnic race clubs allow patrons to BYO but in the case of a fully licensed venue, all drinks will be supplied and served by the racing club. The package negotiated by your club should include free beer, wine and soft drink, generally from the start of race 1 to the start of the final race.
Running Sheet/GuideEvery race day provides a format or racing guide. By purchasing the rights to the day, your club has the opportunity to promote its logo and sponsors in the race guide to all race day attendees.
Depending on the type of function you choose, i.e. sit down or cocktail, you may like to include speeches from prominent members of the club or the community throughout the day. A ‘running sheet’ is a great way to inform people what to expect for the day.
Selecting a LocationDeciding to have a local Race/Turf club host the fundraiser is the ideal way to attract sponsors and members to your event. It is a way to network and give back to the local community.
Function SizeIn order to maximize the fundraising potential of this day, aim to choose a private function room that holds 150-200 people. Ensure the room also has TAB facilities close by.
Parking RequirementsAll local racing clubs have parking facilities for the day. You may be able to negotiate special 'members' parking privileges with the race club.
TransportA great idea for this function is to organize a bus from the club to pick up and drop off attendees so they don’t have to worry about car parking or driving and they are free to relax and enjoy the day. A local bus company may do this for free if you promote their business on the day.
Date and TimeCompleting some research as to when local races are scheduled in your area will assist clubs to identify the most appropriate time of year to hold your event. Be sure to choose a time that will maximise the attendance from your club members. Major racing carnivals occur in the Spring and Autumn and Picnic Racing happens in the summer months. Race clubs are more likely to negotiate during the winter and summer months.
Event SponsorshipSponsorship is a major component of the revenue raising opportunity for this event. Your club would benefit from developing a proposal or ‘sponsorship package’ in order to approach current sponsors and local businesses to give them the opportunity to purchase a race on the day. The selling opportunity increases if you are able to secure a race day that also has national media coverage via Sky Racing, Radio and race book coverage.
As mentioned previously, sponsorship packages are to include:
It is important to be prepared when approaching sponsors, be clear on the price and what the package has to offer their business.
Ticketing and Cash ManagementAllocate a treasurer to manage production and sale of the tickets. Remember this is a classy event so be sure to develop tickets that best represent the spirit of the day. Be open to having tickets available on the day, there may be some last minute patrons or members that would like to be a part of your special day.
SecurityNegotiate with the Racing Club as to what security options are available. It is desirable to keep the event exclusive, so a security guard at the door may be an option to ensure that your function remains private.
Event Printed CollateralPrograms
As mentioned previously, buying the rights to the race day means that your club will have input as to the programs on the day. Your club logo and details, along with that of your sponsors, will be a major feature in the booklet.
Part of the package negotiated by the club could include major race day signage at the finish line. Be sure to put up flyers around the race track venue to promote your club and sponsors and to make the function room easy to find for your function attendees.
Post Event Review/EvaluationIt is important to review the event to identify profit and also identify ways in which the event may be improved. This review can be presented at a committee meeting and the club can decide if they would like it to become a permanent function or not. Ways in which the event can be reviewed include:
• Financial review: provide a profit and loss statement.
• Review of the quality of the event: Create an evaluation sheet and select a few members and sponsors to rate the event.
• How it could be improved
• Recommendation if the event should be run again
This procedure should be treated as a guide only. Your club should seek advice specific to the needs of your club and event. Seek further details from authorities and service providers; especially in regards to insurance, licences, permits, spectator and participant safety.
These examples are based on a race day run by a sport club in 2011:
Buying the Rights for a Race DayCost $4,500 + GST, negotiated down from $9,000 + GST
Average cost per race (8 races) $562.50
Sponsorship PackagesSell races to sponsors for $1,500 + GST
8 x $1,500= $12,000
$12,000 less cost for rights $4,500 = profit $7,500
Food/Drink PackagesCost per head of $55. Includes beer, wine and soft drinks from start of race 1 to start of race 8.
TicketsSell tickets for $100.
$100 – cost per head $55 = $45
$45 x 200 tickets = Potential profit of $9,000