SBJ/Aug. 12-18, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • USA Luge turns to crowdfunding to raise money

    USA Luge will become the first U.S. national governing body to turn to a crowdfunding service in an effort to raise money for the organization.

    The national governing body has teamed up with Indiegogo, a digital fundraising company based in San Francisco, to create a digital effort it hopes will raise $50,000 before the Sochi Games. USA Luge and Indiegogo developed a website, which will go live this week, that solicits donations from anyone and everyone.

    “This is really designed to expand our reach and think outside of the box to find donors,” USA Luge marketing director Gordy Sheer said.

    Sheer said the site will be promoted through social media by members of the luge team. The organization, which raises $700,000 every four years through fundraising, also plans to promote it to grassroots luge competitors. It has hired The Graubard Group, a New York City-based public relations and marketing company, to help promote the initiative.

    People who arrive at USA Luge’s Indiegogo website will find a video and photos of Olympic hopefuls slated to compete in Sochi. A section alongside the video directs visitors to “select a perk” and make a donation of $25, $50, $100, $1,000, $10,000 or $35,000. Donors who contribute $25 will get an email of thanks from a member of the Olympic team. Donors who contribute $10,000 or $35,000 will get trips to see the luge team compete at World Cup events or the Sochi Games, respectively.

    Emily Scott, a member of US Speedskating, raised $48,000 in a week through crowdfunding efforts after USA Today highlighted her struggles to underwrite her training for the Sochi Games. Other Olympians have begun to turn to crowdfunding services to raise funds, and crowdfunding company RallyMe.com has partnered with six national governing bodies, including the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and US Speedskating, to provide their athletes with a platform to raise funds.

    Those efforts are focused on raising money for individual athletes or providing daily lunches to athletes during training. USA Luge is the first NGB to turn to crowdfunding to raise money for its organization. “It’s a bit of uncharted territory,” Sheer said. “We’ll just have to see how it works out.”

    MSP Sports, run by former AT&T sponsorship executive Tim McGhee, advised USA Luge on developing the crowdfunding initiative.

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