Crowd funding for Athletes.

Crowd funding is mainstream now, Kickstarter is the biggest brand and people are getting amazing opportunities via crowd funding and the area of sport is no exception. In this article we will look at crowd funding in the sporting context and try and provide some tips on how to make it work for you as an athlete.

What is Crowd funding?

Lets quickly cover the basics; crowd-funding is a new way to raise funds to get something done. By leveraging the internet to find people who share an interest; people are able to raise money from the community rather than from traditional sources like banks, venture capital or limiting the scope of what you want to achieve.

Well known examples are the Veronica Mars movie, Peeble smart watch and Ouya gaming console.

In short, crowd-funding is about giving the fans or future customers the chance to financially support a project to make it happen.

Crowd funding in sport

The two big names in crowd funding are kick starter and indiegogo. Kick starter is the biggest but not ideal for sport; IndieGoGo is better for our needs as it is better structured for this sort of campaign and also allows you to run a campaign where if the target is not met, you still retain what you did raise. Kickstarter does not.

However, we have niche services for sport also.

Some examples are MakeaChamp, Pledge Sports and Wij Zijn Sport.

These sites are tailored specifically towards sport and athletes.

Athlete Examples

Some examples of athletes using crowd funding platforms in Judo are:

  • Nathon Burns (GBR)
  • Harkirat Sekhon (GBR)
  • Kathy Hubble (CAN)
  • Nick Kosser (USA)
  • Antoine Valois-Fortier (CAN)
  • Do Velema (NED)

Top Tips (and some don’ts)

1. Be worth what you ask for

Don’t be insulted, but if you are not that well known and/or not that good don’t ask for large amounts. If you are a 15 year old kid who got third place at your regional championships don’t ask for money to support your Olympic Dream. People are not silly and are more likely to support the kid they know from the club’s campaign to fund a trip to compete at the national championship[s than they are a campaign for the same kid to go to Rio2016.

It is fine to have goals that are not the Olympic games; it’s not about gold medals at the Olympics, it is about giving people that know you or can associate with you the chance to support you and share the journey.


2. Don’t promise things unless you can deliver

Whilst researching this article; I saw one campaign where one of the perks you could receive for sponsoring to a certain amount was a “shout out” on their twitter account. But the athlete did not have a twitter account.

You want to be creative and offer things that are unique to your journey.

Offer to send postcards from cities where the money will get you to, maybe posters from the events or t-shirts. Offer to film a training session with a top coach and send it to your backers. Offer to do something out of the normal; don’t rely on the defaults.

3. Have a network before you start

A crowd funding campaign relies on social networking (both online and traditional networks of people who know you). Make sure you have all the networking you can do in place before you start a campaign. Make sure you know which people you know will promote your cause and know what you can do to make them feel amazing promoting you and your campaign.

Have your twitter account for months before you start, and your facebook page. Use them daily to show that you are engaged before you start.

4. Engage with people

Especially after you start the campaign, engage with people. Talk to them online and offline and really engage with them. if someone you don’t know contributes immediately thank them and ask them how they heard about you. tell them how much you appreciate them and ask about them as people; ask how yourself how you can make them feel your genuinely appreciate the hard earned money they are giving you.

Don’t be a stereotyped salesperson, don’t spam people and websites with your campaign. Talk with people and engage. Share with them and help others want to talk about you and your campaign.

5. Regular updates.

Don’t “fire and forget”; you have to use every opportunity to communicate positively with your backers and potential backers. ┬áregular emails, updates to websites, letters, postcards, etc will make your backers happy and lead to more donations.

6. Under promise and over deliver

You need to outline your goals and your plan on how you will get from A->B. And you need to share every step. You need to offer perks to backers based on how much they donate, how much you raise in total and of course what you achieve as an athlete.

Be clever and promise realistically what you can deliver. Then plan how you will deliver both as an athlete and in how you will “pay” your backers. Then plan for the extra perks you’ll give backers if you raise more money than expected, or receive a big donation or win the Olympic games and get that big endorsement deal.


This short article will I hope give you some ideas on how to look at crowd funding as an athlete.  if you have questions or comments please post them in the comments section on or drop me an email to






P.s. I’m still very busy with my activity in the EJU and IJF streaming events and being part of the IT team. Also I am also working hard to try and find a way to make the skills I am applying in those arenas available to other events and other sports… so if you are interested drop me an email so I can talk with you about the business of sport and my role in it.

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