Sporting stars crowd-source cash
Wed, 26 Sep 2012 6:00a.m.
By Dan Satherley
Athletes desperate for funding to achieve their sporting dreams no longer need to worry about attracting big sponsors.
A new website, Sportfunder.com has just gone live, with the promise of bringing crowd-sourced funding to present and future Kiwi sporting stars.
The website operates much like the US-based Kickstarter, which has raised more than $275 million for creative projects like films and computer games since its launch in 2009.
Founder Craig Williamson says he came up with the idea for Sportfunder after struggling to raise money for international surfing tours he's hosted in Taranaki over the last few years. He had to raise $500,000 each year to cover prize money and running costs.
"This experience made me realise that sport in general was in dire need of a better and more efficient way for sport to truly connect with sports fans and raise funds," says Mr Williamson.
"Crowdfunding is the ideal model, so I decided to build Sportfunder from scratch, creating the world's first global crowd-funding platform with an absolute focus on all things sport."
It works like this: an athlete or organisation says what they want to do, when their deadline is and how much they want to raise. Investors can then donate amounts as small as $5 or $10, depending on the project. If the target is reached before the deadline, only then are investors' credit cards charged and the money transferred.
Sportfunder takes a 5 percent cut, which Mr Williamson says will be reinvested into "running, improving and marketing" the site.
"In the midst of a global recession, with many brands suffering and most marketing budgets slashed, sponsorship and funding for sport can be incredibly hard to come by, and even when some is secured, it is often not quite enough," says Mr Williamson.
The first big-name athlete on board is surfer Paige Hareb – not surprising given Mr Williamson's own surfing background. Hareb is trying to raise money to compete on the ASP Women's Tour in 2013.
"The website’s launch is perfect timing for me as it will make it easier for people to get behind me and help cover my airfares and accommodation costs."
So far she has $1590 in pledges, but is aiming for $30,000 over the next two months.
What's in it for investors, though? Well, it depends on who or what you're investing in. For example, if you give $25 to Hareb, she'll send you a "digital copy of a signed surfing photo of me, with a message on it thanking you for your support".
Shell out $2000 however, and she'll give you a day's surf coaching.
"Times are tough out there – and if I don’t get more funds in it will actually cost me to be on the tour next year," says Hareb.
Other early adopters of the Sportfunder model of funding are runner Lisa Tamati and the Ta'Moko Lions Rugby FC.
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