Chances are high that you’ve at least heard about booster clubs. They’ve been around for years and are a vital part of the high school sports ecosystem. The question is, what do booster clubs actually do? And more importantly, who do they support, and what are they allowed to spend money on?

If you’re thinking about starting a booster club or just have questions about these important fundraising organizations, this introductory guide is just what you’ve been looking for. Join us as we explore booster club basics. 

What Is a Booster Club?

A booster club is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that raises funds for high school or university-level athletics. Booster clubs can also support private sports entities, such as a gymnastics school. 

Booster clubs are typically run and organized by the parents of students who attend the school and participate in one or more sports. In addition, most are athletic booster clubs, which means they raise funds for and support all of the school’s official sports. 

Others are sports-specific booster clubs. These only fundraise and support a specific sport and team.

Who Can a Booster Club Support?

A booster club can support all of a school’s teams or a specific team or club, including a band. Athletic booster clubs are the most common, and they typically support all of a school’s sports, as well as the band. Private schools, universities, public schools, and even gymnastics schools can benefit from the support of booster clubs. 

Booster clubs use a variety of fundraising methods to generate revenue for the school and sports they support. All this money is exempt from federal income tax so long as the club is properly registered as a 501(c)(3) organization. 

Generally, booster clubs cannot support an individual. They must provide funding to the group as a whole. 

For instance, the booster club president couldn’t use club funds to buy new football gear for their son who plays on the varsity squad. However, the club could donate money for the purchase of new equipment for the entire team or simply purchase the gear outright. 

Dos and Don’ts of Booster Club Spending 

As part of the IRS rules for 501(c)(3) organizations, a booster club cannot give money to or make purchases for any one person. For example, a club couldn't pay a coach a bonus or purchase new equipment for their office. 

However, the club could make a donation to an entire team of athletes for gear. The club could also cover pre-game meals, travel expenses, and other miscellaneous costs that student athletes and coaches may incur while going to a tournament or participating in sports activities. 

Should You Start a Booster Club?

If your school doesn’t have a booster club, starting one could be an excellent way of supporting the school’s student-athletes. When starting a booster club, make sure to create a cohesive plan and collaborate with like-minded parents. Together, you and the other founding club members can achieve great things for the school and students.