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powered by the people - the magic of crowdfunding in sports

Part three of a series on the role of crowdfunding in fund development.

When people talk about sport, philanthropy isn’t top of mind. Neither is crowdfunding. Sport funding is changing and government support is becoming harder to come by, but the money is out there - you just need to find it. One of the best – and most effective – tools is crowdfunding. When you think about it, a crowdfunding campaign is similar to sport - it’s time sensitive, there’s a very clear goal and it’s competitive. Whether it’s at the national level to represent your country, at the university level to pay for training camps, or at the local level to afford extra equipment, crowdfunding has a great return on investment. In this final instalment of a three part series on sport crowdfunding, we’re taking a look at some lower profile initiatives within the community that still carry a large impact!


Not all crowdfunding campaigns are created equal. One could argue that major news stories surrounding a discrepancy in women’s sports or using high-profile athletes to push a campaign make crowdfunding for certain projects an easier sell. I would argue against that.

As mentioned in our second instalment of this series, you need a few key elements to launch a successful campaign: a solid team, lead gifts, a communication strategy, clear goal and short timeline. Crowdfunding is a powerful tool to rally your community around a cause and provides an opportunity to support wonderful initiatives right in your own backyard.

Take Kory-Antony Roy-Lagacé, a 15-year-old boy who suffers from a serious and rare disease that attacks his immune system. A talented hockey goalie for the Bantam BB Bleu et Or in Québec, his symptoms often prevent him from attending school, hockey practices and games. Enter crowdfunding. With the help of a local family foundation, Kory’s friends and family were able to set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a hyperbaric chamber that helps to manage his pain and energy and allows him to participate regularly in his school and hockey activities for several months consecutively.

With the support of a few great individuals who were driven to lead this campaign, they raised $10,000 in ten days. A quick peek at the donor list and you’ll see other local foundations that support sport-related initiatives backed the campaign. The goal and need were clear, the communication strategy was put in place, and the leaders ran with it.

While writing this post, I came across another worthy campaign that seems to have stalled slightly. The Special Olympics basketball team from Mississauga, Ontario is trying to raise money to help get them to the National Summer Games tournament this summer inNova Scotia. It’s such a wonderful cause with a very clear goal, but has only secured 15% of the funds needed in over two months. So what happened here? I’m not sure, perhaps there weren’t enough project leads, or a solid communication strategy, or even a sense of urgency. Campaigns often don’t reach their goal, but this doesn’t mean it’s a failure since you typically end up with more funds than had you not started a campaign in the first place, but they do require work and a lot of ongoing support so let’s try to give the Ontario Special Olympics basketball team a final push!

How do you avoid stalling out? There are always going to be causes to support – each year the number of charities, and increasingly, groups of individuals looking for donations, grows. So how do you make yours stand out, and how do you ensure you reach your goal? The main thing is, get your house in order before you jump in because it is very hard to recover once your campaign has lost steam. I have too often worked with groups who incorrectly assume that they can just put up a campaign and it takes care of itself, so let me be clear – you get out of it EXACTLY what you put into it.

Crowdfunding as a fund development tool leverages the passion of a community. In all areas of giving, it is important to connect your supporters to the individual. Who exactly is being helped? Why exactly do they need the money? And, most importantly, where will the donor’s money go? Crowdfunding provides the perfect platform to fulfil these questions – it is direct, it is personal and the outcome of the fundraising is clear.

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