At this time of year, when the number of outdoor athletic events start to dwindle, I usually start getting questions about what I am working on, along with comments like “It must be nice to have a break for a few months.”  Sometimes I find it a bit frustrating, but mostly I chalk it up to a lack of understanding about what it takes to run an organization where the bulk of your public-facing activity takes place during the other three seasons.

With that, I wanted to take this week’s blog post and shed some light on what goes on at Tri 4 Schools during the winter months.  I also thought this would be the perfect time to let people know more about the progress we are making in becoming a non-profit poised for growth both within Dane County AND beyond our borders.

  • Event Planning for 2015 – Most of our events require a year of planning.  From reserving facilities, securing insurance and permits, and incorporating feedback to make events better, I spend many hours in the late fall and winter ensuring that our 2015 calendar is confirmed and available for registration to open on January 1.
  • Exercise to Achievement Program Expansion – Our board and I have been working hard on identifying schools for expansion of our Exercise to Achievement after-school program.  We hope to double the program in size, offering as many as twelve sites instead of six.  The curriculum and overall structure have undergone many changes since the spring, and we will now be running it as a standalone program.  Last year, the program was under the school district umbrella due to grant funding, and with that change comes lots of other infrastructure that must be put in place (legal, insurance, employee payroll, etc).  We have half of our sites confirmed, with the remaining sites to be confirmed by the end of the year.
  • FUNDRAISING – In 2014, it took about $180,000 to run Tri 4 Schools.  That money comes from an infinite amount of sources, and when we get to the final quarter of our fiscal year, we need to make sure we will be able to meet our budget need for the year, as well as set ourselves up for cash reserves during the first quarter of 2015.  This is what I spend the bulk of my time on in the fall months, with everything from Giving Tuesday to our annual campaign (donate HERE), to securing sponsors for next year.  Which brings me to…
  • Hiring a Sponsorship Coordinator – This is really exciting.  As I mentioned above, it takes a lot of money to run this organization, and I spend the vast majority of my time making sure we have enough money to keep us afloat.  That leaves little time to focus on growing relationships that can lead to funding for new initiatives, expanding programs, and other tasks that are key to our sustainability.  In 2014, we worked hard to raise enough money to be able to hire a part-time sponsorship coordinator that could help us bring in more revenue to begin pursuing some of our big goals.  We’ve been working together for almost two months on identifying a process for working together, doing research, meeting with prospective partners, and beginning our appeal process.  I’m really eager to see where we will be a year from now with the help of our new team members, Peggy and Chris.  
  • Branding for future growth – One of the great aspects that our sponsorship coordinator brings to the table is her experience in developing and creating strong brands.  While we’ve done a good job of this so far, there is lots of room for improvement, and this will be critical when we look to expand into new communities that don’t know who we are or what we do.  We are working on this process alongside our sponsorship campaign for 2015 so that we can secure sponsors who are aligned with our brand and philosophy.