Clubs - Financial Aid
There are athletes and families who can’t afford to train and compete in USSA club programs. It is in the best interest of the club and the community to have a strategy to facilitate athletic opportunity for these families. Financial aid or scholarships should be limited to those skiers and riders who both need and deserve the assistance. The more carefully managed, the more scholarship programs can benefit potential athletes and the club community.
It is normally the best practice to have a dedicated chairman and committee to oversee the financial aid program. This group prepares and operates the application and reward process, while your development and fundraising group is charged with securing funding to support the scholarship program. It is recommended that athletes not be fully funded, but rather partially funded so they show commitment by earning money to pay for their athletic program. It is also important to ask for detailed financial information to objectively determine financial need. Some clubs use outside agencies to review financial need and recommend scholarship rewards - in any case, a formal and objective process with clear criteria is imperative.
A financial aid program should be strategically reflected in both your budget and your fundraising and development plan.
There are many good examples of successful scholarship programs. Inquire with the USSA Club Development Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) for different examples of financial aid programs for clubs.
Scholarship Tip: Scholarships and financial aid programs are a two-way street. They are intended to help athletes with financial need and/or merit, as well as help the organization meet its strategic goals with regards to diversity, inclusion, enrollment, and fostering the right culture. Make sure that your program (from the application criteria, to the awards, to the expectation of participants, to the review of expectations) is structured to serve both individual and strategic organizational goals. These funds are often most appealing to donors and sponsors - especially if they are transparent and well-managed.
Scholarship and Budgeting Tip: Because most programs are supported by some sort of fundraising efforts the following should be made clear in your budget, club information and to all constituents, potential donors and parents: