How to Start a Fishing Tournament Fundraiser

by Tom Becker

Charitable organizations live and die by donations and fund raising. If you can incorporate fund raising into an activity enjoyed by many people in your community, you not only raise funds but provide a fun and unifying community event. Fishing tournaments can raise community interest and participation and have the potential to attract fishing enthusiasts from other areas. Large events of this type require thorough organization, but with the right planning you can successfully start a fishing tournament fund-raiser.

Consult the organization for which you plan to start the tournament. Set up a clear series of objectives for the tournament, the financial details as well as the possible legal indemnity that the event poses. Address their concerns and suggestions and find a format for the tournament so you can start organizing.

Set a fund-raising goal. This dollar amount should reflect a reasonable expectation of what the event can raise, then raise the goal slightly above in case the event exceeds expectations.

Set the entry fee for the tournament. The amount must be low enough to encourage participation and high enough that the expected number of entry fees will meet your fund-raising goal.

Determine the prizes given to the winners. Money, gift certificates, services, boats, fishing equipment and retail goods of all kinds make suitable prizes. Local businesses may agree to donate goods or services for use as prizes. Having a prize for the first four places or so helps encourage participation.

Clearly outline the rules for team participation, including the number of team members per boat and the number of rods and reels allowed per team member.

Determine the rules for lures and bait allowed in the tournament. Many tournaments have rules about the type of bait participants may use, but no rules on the type of lures.

Set rules about the transportation and release of the fish. Many tournaments now require participants to keep the fish alive during transport and weighing and then release the fish back into the water.

Determine a location for the weighing area. The weighing area will keep track of the various teams' scores and judge what qualifies as an acceptable catch. It can also decide what constitutes a trophy-size fish which participants may keep and not release. The officials in the weighing area represent the final authority in the tournament.

Set the boundaries of the event. Set clearly marked limits where participants may fish. Use specific GPS coordinates or easily identifiable landmarks.

Set a specific duration for the event from the moment it begins to the moment participants must take their lines out of the water.

Write out the rules and terms of agreement for participation in the event. You may want to consult a lawyer for the wording of the document to protect your organization from any legal indemnity. Print out copies of the rules and terms of agreement and require each participant to sign before paying the entry fees.

Find volunteers to help run the event. Start by asking members of your organization to help staff the event and reach out to community organizations if you need more workers.

Find sponsors for the event by consulting local businesses, community organizations and individuals. The participation of sponsors can help raise awareness and increase participation which, in turn, increases the amount of funds raised.

Publicize the event. Passing out and posting fliers, speaking at community events, starting a website or social networking page and contacting local radio and television stations can generate interest in your event and increase the number of participants.

Photo Credits