The success of crowd funding campaigns is largely down to some key factors. Firstly an engaged crowd, a group of supporters who are passionate about the outcome or want the rewards on offer, and who are motivated enough to spread the word. Then there are the rewards themselves – cool, sought after and representing good value, enough to motivate a pledge of support. Of course, there also needs to be a well articulated project about which the campaign is being run to raise funding. These are all present with sporting clubs, big and small, making a perfect fit for crowd funding.
Sporting groups and clubs always have projects on the go that require funding. More and more, they are finding the traditional methods of raising funds becoming less effective and more tedious. Sausage sizzles seem to raise a few dollars, but require a mountain of effort to raise relatively little funding (also, it’s kind of ironic that sporting clubs that strive for health raise funds from the sales of unhealthy fatty sausages). The same applies to selling fundraising chocolates. Raffles, too, involve so much time, and require someone to organise prizes, someone to sell the tickets, and then the admin around drawing and delivering the prize. Again, a lot of hard work for seemingly little return. And the big issue with these traditional forms of fundraising, they have little in the way of residual value as an engagement tool. Once the fundraising drive is over, there is hardly any ongoing engagement.
The types of projects that sporting groups can fund are limitless. There is a the constant need for equipment – shirts for players, training equipment, balls and bats, as well as nets, corner posts, and supporter facilities. There are also events that are run by some clubs, the old Dinner Dance or the like that bring about further supporter engagement, but which few clubs can afford to run. Preseason and post-season tours are costly imposts on sporting clubs, but these too can be crowd funded. Crowd funding can also be used by sporting groups in some creative ways. Tweed Valley Rollers (TVR), a group of roller derby girls from northern NSW, ran a campaign where they successfully funded a 1920s-style calendar which was the catalyst to further funding efforts. It all began with a crowd funding campaign which they then leveraged into further funds and so on.
Coming up with rewards for sports-themed campaigns are always easy, as the sector naturally lends itself to perks that will motivate people to support campaigns. A New Lobster offered private coaching as well as well as other services in a form of pre-sales to generate pledges. TVR offered preferential seating at their game, photo opportunities with players, and a heap of other coll rewards that saw them quickly achieve their target. In most cases, sporting clubs can improve the geographic spread and appeal of their campaign by utilising contacts in their sport to get more broadly sought after rewards. A New Lobster offered private tennis lessons as rewards – a great incentive if you live locally, but less effective to those who aren’t in the vicinity. If they utilised contacts to get a couple of autographed racquets from a local famous player on the international circuit, and then offered these as rewards, then their appeal would immediately increase to potentially a worldwide crowd of possible supporters . There is also the opportunity to offer some big rewards to sponsors, both present and prospective, and really get some major contribution to the campaign. Creative thinking can dramatically improve the scope and potential success of a crowd funding campaign.
But the most well structured campaign will not reach its target without engaging a crowd, and this is where sporting clubs have a big advantage. Sporting clubs, by sheer virtue of what they are, have a natural crowd to tap into. Players, parents, supporters, sponsors, and even competitor clubs’ players and supporters are potential backers of campaigns. By using the methods of communication that clubs use in their day-to-day operations (i.e. there doesn’t need to be any extra work undertaken to run a crowd funding campaign), sporting clubs can get the message of their campaign out to the crowd. Ground announcements, newsletters, text messages, social media blasts, or usual forms of communication to supporters can be employed to inform the crowd of the campaign, and get them to pledge their support, or to spread the word (or both!). The benefit of most sporting organisations is there will also be the core loyal and passionate supporters who will not only pledge their financial support, but who will drive and support the efforts required to continually get the message out there, doing this as availability permits, representing a far more efficient and effective fund raising option for time and resource poor sporting organisations.