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US athlete Alex Love hopes to compete at Rio 2016 and is using crowdfunding to train as a full-time athlete


CASE STUDY - THE WAVE


The Wave’s crowdfunding project raised a total of £224,000


Crowdfunding for an elite athlete can be light work, but for a small community sports project the experience can be quite different, as the pool of donors is smaller


but sporting platforms are becoming an increasingly popular niche. An area which is rising fast is athletes asking their fans to donate money to take them to the next level. This can be easier than finding sponsorship, but also the skills they learn through a crowdfunding campaign – such as how to engage with fans – can benefit them when looking for a sponsor later. The 2014 Sochi Olympics put crowdfunding on the map in this respect, as many athletes and teams raised necessary funds through crowdfunding. “Athletes who successfully crowdfund


have a great relationship with their fans and are generally strong on social media, which is exactly what sponsors are looking for,” says Emily White, co-founder of Dreamfuel. “We love providing new revenue


streams for athletes, and also showing them how to engage and connect with their audience, so sponsors can work with them in that regard.” Canada-based Pursu.it was formed by


Olympic kayaker Julia Rivard and former gymnast Leah Skerry in 2013. It has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for athletes around the world and sent eight athletes to Sochi, including Canadian skier Larisa Yurkiw who needed to find CA$20,000 after losing her funding through injury. “We started Pursu.it after seeing the success of some of the larger


crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter,” says Rivard. “Our goal has always been to connect the athletes directly to the fans who want to help them on their journey. “The athletes are outstanding ambassadors and each campaign helps market the site.” Rewards are an important part of


crowdfunding and an elite sportsperson offers a great deal of scope for fun rewards for fans. “They can be as simple as a shoutout on Twitter or as customised as a personalised song or private lesson via Skype,” says White.


COMMUNITY FUNDING Crowdfunding for an elite athlete might be one thing, but for a small community sports project, the experience can be quite different, as the pool of donors becomes much smaller. Many projects have found it’s not easy money and targets can be hard to reach. Campaigns take a lot of promoting both online and off. When rugby club Bury Broncos decided to expand its facilities, it chose crowdfunding to raise £3,500 towards a pavilion upgrade. Club chair, Ryan Lewis, says they took the crowdfunding route, instead of looking for grants, because it seemed like the most achievable way of getting the money in a short space of time, and the project was too small to warrant


sportsmanagement.co.uk issue 2 2015 © Cybertrek 2015


many supporters it was confident of mobilising. “Crowdfunder UK got in touch as they could see we were gathering a large base of online support and thought this could be a great project to showcase this unique form of fundraising,” says the Wave founder, Nick Hounsfield. “We saw the crowdfunder campaign as a great way to deliver some core aspirations, such as setting up a charitable trust and delivering more renewable technology and design into our development.” A mix of rewards including bespoke


U


t-shirts, surf lessons and preview parties were offered and they hit their £150,000 target about halfway through the campaign, ending up with a whopping £224,000. “Building a big audience to talk to


was critical in the success. I would suggest anyone wanting to attempt this fundraising needs a huge critical mass of people to talk to. Social media overload!” says Hounsfield. A PR company was also engaged


to keep up the fundraising exposure, which led to features in national papers and radio interviews. “It totally absorbs your life for at least a month (the length of the campaign) and lots of admin afterwards. However, the sense of support and achievement is overwhelming. It’s also allowed us to go back to our investors with confidence of public support for the project,” says Hounsfield. “If the organisation or project is inspiring enough, crowdfunding could work. The bigger and more exciting the vision, the bigger the opportunity.”


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rban surf reef, The Wave, in Bristol, decided to take the crowdfunding route as it had


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