Illustration by Joe Lai.
Illustration by Joe Lai.

Amid statewide budget cuts and university fee hikes, athletes are now finding that money to fund their sports is scarcer than ever before. However, some teams on campus have found a creative outlet through which they are raising money to play the sports they love.

Some teams have folded or switched to club status due to the lack of funding they receive from both the university and the NCAA committee. Other teams are finding alternative sources, since they cannot rely on the insufficient finances provided.

Finding sponsors to donate to a team’s cause can be tedious, but the women’s cross country team recently discovered a website known as RaceRaiser that helps keep all their fundraising efforts structured and hassle-free.

Using RaceRaiser has changed the way the team approaches fundraising. The online service gives any organization the chance to go beyond the traditional means, such as selling candy bars and holding bake sales. Instead, incorporating the technology and ease of websites, RaceRaiser allows teams to design their own page. As athletes participate in marathons or meets, sponsors who pledge can simply enter their credit card, which will be charged as each runner runs more miles — very much like an online shop for a charity or nonprofit organization.

“The general idea is to make it easier for the teams who are fundraising to earn significant amounts of money, and the Internet is the next step in where we need to go,” said Matt Jones, manager of business development at RaceRaiser. “We give teams a chance to branch out to people who network using Facebook and Twitter.”

As the new season approaches, the men’s tennis team is also looking to raise money for their sport in any way they can.

“We run tournaments; solicit donations from alumni, current and past team parents; we do events with local clubs and we have a current campaign to start an endowment for men’s tennis,” head coach Bob Hansen said. “This is the first real, focused and organized year-long campaign we have had and hopefully we will be able to meet our goal of raising $75,000 this season. I have learned a great deal and we are now close to covering this year’s expenses so that any future fundraising can go toward the endowment.”

While the team is undoubtedly one of the most successful on campus — last year they took home the Division III national championship — the money they receive from expected sources, such as the university and the NCAA committee, are not enough to cover full costs.

“The money we receive from the school only covers about a third of the cost to run the team, and we must raise the other two-thirds-plus to cover team expenses,” Hansen said.

The men’s tennis team recently invested in a new option in their fundraising efforts. Utilizing the close proximity of an ATP event, the team has built a partnership with the San Jose exhibition, selling special courtside tickets with the inclusion of a dinner to begin their evening.

The second annual UCSC Alumni and Friends Night at the SAP Open Tennis Tournament, which will take place on Feb. 10, helps the team not only fundraise, but also reconnect with alumni and network with others.

“It was a great way to connect past and present members of the Slug tennis community,” said senior tennis player Marc Vartabedian. “It was cool to meet players that were part of championship teams from past years that we had only heard stories about from Bob.”

As expenses continue to skyrocket, many are hoping that the fundraiser will help ease the burden that now falls to the team.

“Last year the event did not bring in any significant funds, but served a great function in getting alums and boosters together,” Hansen said. “This year we hope to generate some additional funding support at the event.”

Even if the fundraising event is a new one, hopes are high that more schools will participate to spread the word.

“Last year we were the only school that participated,” Hansen said. “This year will be our second year and Stanford will have an alumni event as well. Each new event we do opens the door to more contacts and hopefully more productive fundraising in the future.”