This letter was sent to all Thunder parents in April 2021. While the details may vary from year to year, the philosophy and general approach will always apply.
As the season is upon us, and in the spirit of providing transparency on the Thunder operating expenses, the Thunder Board wanted to provide you with additional details regarding the Thunder Operating expenses as these will be a part of your fees for this season. We understand the significant financial commitment that travel baseball brings. While we are very proud of our stewardship over the years, and the fact that Thunder fees and costs are lower than many comparable organizations in the area, financial prudence and transparency are our primary goals.
While all funds are controlled centrally by our program Finance Director, each team’s budget (and therefore player fees) are ultimately determined by the individual coach. That said, we strive for program-wide consistency, and can provide the following general information about the Thunder finances.
Money coming in
The Thunder brings in money from two sources: Player fees and fundraising.
Fundraising comes from multiple sources (and we’re always working to expand them). This includes donations from corporate sponsors, friends of the Thunder, and from programs like Amazon Smile. We also sometimes receive merchandise credits from our uniform and equipment vendors.
The Thunder is a qualified 501(c)(3) non-profit, so donations are usually tax-deductible (and welcome!). Always check with your accountant to determine tax treatment of your gift.
We also run one major program-wide fundraiser per year. For the last few years, we have either done an OSU ticket raffle or squares game. Each player has a minimum commitment to sell and families with multiple players in the program have a reduced commitment for each younger sibling. After paying the expenses of the fundraiser, the net proceeds from those minimum sales are placed in the Thunder’s general account with a majority of the amount being credited back to each player..
Player fees are collected in two installments, the initial $300 non-refundable deposit after tryouts, and the remaining balance due early in the season. Deposits are necessary because many of our expenses are incurred in the fall and winter before the season. For example, we pay a majority of our field rental expenses prior to the season starting and assist the coaches in pre-paying for tournaments. The remaining player fee assessment is sent in March and includes the balance remaining to account for organizational and team expenses.
As coaches finalize their season budgets, we are then able to finalize team costs, and assess each player their final fee balance.
Money going out
There are lots of different expenses associated with travel baseball. Some of them are probably obvious – tournament entry fees, game and practice baseballs, umpire fees, and renting fields and indoor practice space. Others may not be as front-of-mind – things like insurance, field maintenance, software and administrative charges (tax accountant, state fees, GameChanger, TeamSnap, etc.), and rental on our storage facility. We even pay for portable toilets at the high and middle schools during the summer.
Each coach, working with the Thunder Finance Director, develops his team budget. This process starts in October and is complete in February, once the full tournament schedule is known. Certain expenses are a direct function of the coach’s choices – how many games and tournaments you’ll enter, whether any paid trainers or coaches are used, and any team-specific equipment (e.g., catcher’s gear, batting tees). Other expenses are program-wide, such as insurance, website hosting, facility rental, etc. These charges are passed on in the form of player fees.
Fundraising dollars are spent at the direction of the Board, and are typically used for program-wide expenses, such as portable pitching mounds, bases, screens and batting cages, or fuel, repairs, and servicing the tractor at Hyatts. We also look for opportunities to contribute to the community via permanent improvements, such as building dugouts at Hyatts, or even building or improving other fields in the area. When funds allow it, such as this year, we credit each player $150 for reaching their minimum sale contribution. For any player who sells more than the minimum of 7 squares, those sales are directly credited against his team fees on a dollar for dollar basis. If you sold 14 tickets, you will get an additional $175 credit against your team fees.
All of this spending is guided by the Thunder’s mission and the Board’s long-term vision: To develop young athletes in the area as baseball players and people.
We make every effort to budget accurately, and include every possible expense, there are a few items that aren’t included in player fees. Namely, player uniforms and team photos. For those, each player pays the vendor directly.
We have done our best to decrease these amounts. While the Thunder has always paid for the coaches’ uniforms, we have significantly reduced the impact of those expenses this year. In the past, each team’s coaches’ jerseys, hats, and outerwear costs were passed on to the individual players on that team. This year, the Thunder reduced the items ordered for the coaches and paid for those items out of a combination of vendor credits and fundraising dollars. This will result in a savings of $30-75 for every player, compared to prior years.
To provide transparency this year and moving forward, you will find our 2021 Organizational Budget attached. Again, as it was described above, this makes up a portion of your player’s final fee assessment that will be sent out soon.
We are working with your head coach to finalize 2021 budgets and player assessments. As was done in previous years, we will provide a copy of the final budget and fee assessment to each head coach so that they can help answer any questions you may have. Additionally, if you have any questions or would like to go through the details you can contact me directly.
Ohio Thunder Finance Director