An increased awareness of how to solicit sponsorships can help organizations overcome financial challenges.

There never seems to be enough money for athletics - even in good economic times. And although securing sponsors for scoreboards and game-program advertising is not a new strategy, an increased awareness of how to do so may help organizations overcome financial challenges. Here are some tips:

Be careful how often you ask small-business owners for money.

Many of them may be mom-and-pop operations that are approached for sponsorships by other school and community athletic teams and organizations. There is only so much money to go around. To avoid going to that well too many times, consider developing a school-wide spreadsheet that tracks donations and sponsorships for all extracurricular activities. This will keep organizations from nickel-and-diming the same businesses, and force you to find other worthy donors in the community.

Keep in mind that the sponsor expects to get something out of the deal, too.

Most businesses are anxious to create goodwill within the community, but they also would like to increase awareness of their products and services. So instead of placing signage in only one venue, the prospect of having multiple opportunities in the stadium, gymnasium and natatorium, as well as possibly on other fields, could seal the deal. Featuring advertisements in more than one sport's game program also may be appealing.

Remember that these things take time.

Regardless of the type of business - from fast-food restaurants to hardware stores - each has an advertising budget that may or may not include sponsorships. Many local businesses are branches of larger corporations and might need to go through regional or national channels to receive approval for their sponsorship deals. Others may not have even thought about sponsorships but are willing to consider a good opportunity. Don't expect to make your pitch today and receive a check tomorrow.

Have a Plan B, or even a Plan C.

Many local businesses have limited windows of opportunity within their fiscal year to provide sponsorship or advertising dollars, so the timing of your request can be crucial. Find out a good time to approach those businesses and make your pitch. Not every business owner will say "yes," though, so keep track of which businesses you've targeted and always be on the lookout for potential new sponsors.