Internet fundraisers for high school bass clubs

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Former Bassmaster High School All-American Matt Stearns relied on an internet fundraiser website to raise money for his Lakeville Fishing Club.

B.A.S.S. Nation High School anglers are discovering the power of the internet can help them raise funds for their bass clubs.

Fundraising websites are eliminating the need for high school anglers to go door-to-door soliciting funds or holding special benefit events to raise money for their clubs. Two websites high school anglers have relied on to raise funds for their B.A.S.S. Nation clubs are www.snap-raise.com and www.gofundme.com.

A chance meeting at a Tuesday night tournament led to an internet fundraising campaign for the Lakeville Fishing Club, a B.A.S.S. Nation club representing Lakeville North and South high schools in Minnesota. Club President Matt Stearns said he wasn’t planning any fundraisers when he met Tom Conboy, a local representative of Snap-Raise, at the tournament. “He said we would have the potential of making $15,000 every single time we did one of the fundraising programs, which lasts about a month,” Stearns said. “At first I was really skeptical and thought it was one of those scams you get in emails, but I thought I would check into it."

When Stearns told his adviser Dave Schuek about the fundraiser he said Schuek was “super skeptical at first” about the program, but they decided to meet with Conboy. Once they found out how the program worked, they set up their fundraiser to start Oct. 13.  

Snap-Raise allows groups to set up an account and customize a fundraiser page which features the group’s goal and current statistics on amounts raised. The fundraising company charges a percentage fee of the overall funds raised and uses WePay, a platform payment processor, to securely process credit card donations.

The Lakeville club set a goal of $6,000 for its month-long fundraising campaign. “We busted that right out of the park,” Stearns said. Spreading the word through Facebook and emails helped the club raise $11,304 to support its growing roster of more than 50 members.

Donations from the Snap-Raise campaign will be used for various club expenses including fishing gear, tournament fees, travel fees, instructional classes and jerseys. “Our club has been growing so much that we have had a lot of trouble getting boaters,” Stearns said. So the club will use a portion of the money towards incentives (gas and travel reimbursement or gift cards) for boaters.

Stearns has become a firm believer in raising funds for his club via the internet and recommends Snap-Raise to other high school clubs needing financial support. “I could totally imagine how anyone would be skeptical about it but now that we are into it, it has really been successful,” he said. “We have tried thinking of fundraisers for a while now and I think this is a lot better than going door-to-door selling magazines or that kind of stuff.”

GoFundMe pages were used by some of the 2016 Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship contenders to help pay for their travel expenses to Kentucky Lake. Jackson Williams and Austin Chism of the Lakeland Area High School Club of Florida received $650 from a GoFundMe page set up by Williams’ mother. “It was mostly family members who helped us out,” Williams said of those who donated to their fundraiser page.

The GoFundMe site states it allows individuals to raise money for themselves, relatives or friends during “life’s important moments.” So Williams believes this fundraiser program is especially helpful for high school anglers needing to cover their travel expenses for the national championship.

While users can set up a free GoFundMe account and share their online fundraising account on Facebook, GoFundMe deducts a 5 percent fee from each donation along with a 3 percent processing fee. The GoFundMe campaign features secure payment encryption technology that keeps donors’ online payments safe and stores users’ money securely until they request a withdrawal via electronic bank transfer.