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Mike Bahun Champions Student Causes With Fundraising University

Mike Bahun Champions Student Causes With Fundraising University

Mike Bahun, the founder of Fundraising University, is dedicated to raising funds for high school athletic and activity programs through his innovative franchise business, which has experienced remarkable growth over the past four years. A former professional baseball player and current baseball development coach at Ohio State, Coach Bahun launched Fundraising U over two decades ago, and it became a franchise in 2020.

The company now has franchises in markets across the country, with new regions opening soon. “Our rapid expansion allows us to support even more schools and young athletes,” Bahun says. “It’s incredibly fulfilling to see the positive impact we’re having on communities nationwide.”

Bahun’s love for sports and athletic programs is not just a professional interest, but a deeply personal passion. His formative years were marked with hurdles and challenges while growing up in a single-parent household. As a young boy, Bahun found comfort and strength in sports, learning invaluable lessons of accountability and discipline on the baseball fields.

Bahun’s personal experiences shaped his extraordinary career, both as a standout athlete and an innovative entrepreneur.

Rather than following the typical athlete-to-coach trajectory, Bahun set his sights on a different mission: empowering student-athletes and their teams through a unique franchising model.

He also believes in giving back to the community and game, empowering the coaches and support staff he considers unsung heroes.

Fundraising University: Solving the Funding Gap for Schools

In 2009, Bahun launched Fundraising University, a franchise system that partners with schools, sports teams, and youth organizations to raise critical funds through modern, digital-first fundraising campaigns.

“Most schools are getting less money to pour into athletic programs, which will not change,” he said. “All sports have costs that are often overlooked. Athletes shouldn’t be held back from achieving their very best because the program expenses are more than they can afford. Without the stress of funding, students and parents can focus more on practice, honing their skills, and chasing their dreams. For us, we get in there with Fundraising University and provide a service to raise money for the teams and build relationships.”

Fundraising University takes a unique approach by avoiding the usual cookie dough and discount card fundraisers and using a more creative strategy instead.

“Fundraising University is not just about selling products like cards or cookies,” Bahun explains. “It’s about executing a system that truly makes a difference for schools, athletes, and coaches. Our approach is unique and effective, and it’s what sets us apart.”

Building a Digital Fundraising System

Building a franchise system from the ground up, complete with proprietary technology, was a formidable undertaking for Coach Bahun.

“Taking a software development project along with building your franchise system is really two startups in one,” Bahun acknowledges.

But Bahun’s competitive spirit and relentless drive propelled him forward. “You have to commit to the future,” he says. “If any part of it isn’t part of the overall plan and you can’t move it down the road symbiotically, then that resistance point will break you.”

That commitment has paid off in the form of a highly customized technology platform that gives Fundraising University’s franchisees a distinct advantage.

Mike Bahun’s People-First Approach

Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, Bahun has built a franchise model that prioritizes people over products, empowering students and coaches to create genuine, lasting connections with their supporters.

“Fundraising isn’t just about money—it’s about uniting teams, empowering programs, and creating lasting change in communities,” Bahun says. “Our franchise owners are empowered to engage students and community members, aligning their support with fundraising goals. Above all, we prioritize exceptional customer service. We are there every step of the way, from launch to product delivery, ensuring the best experience for coaches, students, schools and their families.”

This people-first philosophy is a big part of what differentiates Fundraising University from similar businesses.

“At the heart of it all, we are running a business about people, and sports is the vehicle,” Bahun shared. “We’ve gotten away from relationships in sports and strive to get that team mentality back in schools and communities. So, our company brings an intimate experience, and we build relationships with the coaches, programs and players to see them succeed. It’s as simple as that. People who work with Fundraising University are at the forefront of an innovative movement, and they truly love to help people.”

Fundraising University’s Rapid Growth and National Recognition

From humble beginnings in 2009 to becoming a franchise in 2020, Fundraising University has grown rapidly, expanding to over 80 franchise locations nationwide.

The timing of Fundraising University’s launch in 2020 became an important part of the company’s genesis as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many professionals to work from home. Many young athletes also got passionate about sports again.

“It gave a lot of people the opportunity to consider what it would look like to have that flexibility and be their own boss,” Bahun says. “And the schools needed more funding than ever, so it was a weird blessing in disguise for us.”

The company’s success has not gone unnoticed—in 2023, Fundraising University was ranked No. 1 in Entrepreneur magazine’s prestigious Franchise 500 list for its outstanding performance in unit growth, financial strength and stability, and brand power. It was also honored as an invaluable resource for potential franchisees.

Mike Bahun’s Passion for Giving Back

For Mike Bahun, the drive to build Fundraising University isn’t just about business success—it’s a deeply personal mission rooted in his upbringing.

“I was the inner-city kid from a single-parent family. You talk about a bad environment and anything someone could see. I’ve seen it, right? So, sports were my salvation,” he shared. “So the passion for Fundraising University was born knowing that a million kids like me out there need this student-athlete experience.”

Mike Bahun’s passion extends far beyond the success of Fundraising University. He is actively involved with charitable organizations like Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer and his own philanthropic organization, Coaching Matters Foundation. His commitment to giving back is a testament to his character and the values he instills in his business.

As Fundraising University continues to grow and evolve, Coach Bahun remains humble and steadfast in his commitment to the passion that has guided him from the beginning.

“Sports and school activities gave me the stable environment I was searching for, and I started my businesses to give back to the community in the same way,” he shares. “People ask me how I do it all, but it doesn’t feel like work when it’s something you love. Starting a fundraising company and seeing its national success brings me great joy and fulfillment. This is just the beginning.”

And as he looks to the future, Bahun is confident that Fundraising University will continue to make a lasting impact on communities across the country.

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