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Volume 25 No. 50
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Olympic Hopefuls, Governing Bodies Increasing Crowdfunding To Cover Training Costs

Several crowdfunding websites for athletes have launched in recent years -- including RallyMe, PledgeSports and MakeAChamp -- with “thousands of athletes” using such sites to “pay for their training, coaching, equipment, travel expenses and more, with varying degrees of success,” according to Dave Seminara of the N.Y. TIMES. The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association last year “became the first national sports federation to establish a formal partnership with a crowdfunding site,” coming to terms with RallyMe, and over the last two months, a number of other federations also “have established partnerships" with the site. Skier Keri Herman has “found it difficult to retain her corporate sponsors.” She said that sponsors are more interested in courting “cute little 15-year-olds” than in funding top-ranked skiers. Seminara noted Herman, “faced with not knowing how she would pay her rent, let alone compete around the world,” started a crowdfunding campaign to “try to keep her skiing career alive.” Herman: “I’ve been near the top of the sport for 10 years, but when I turned 30, my sponsors started to drop me.” The USSA estimated that its athletes “had to cover about” $2.5M of their own expenses in ‘14. The RallyMe campaign “raised about $565,000.” A U.S. Speedskating official said that “having all of its athletes’ crowdfunding efforts on one site allowed the federation to drive traffic to one page.” Seminara noted “another benefit to the RallyMe partnership may be that federations can monitor what their athletes are saying in their crowdfunding campaigns.” RallyMe Founder & CEO Bill Kerig said that some federations "had expressed concerns about how the athletes might frame their appeals.” U.K.-based PledgeSports Founder & CEO Richard Pearson said that “it was not sustainable for athletes to crowdfund every season.” He added that athletes will “have to become used to crowdfunding -- and adept at it” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/25).