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Celebrating four years of crowdfunding

Our programme manager for place development celebrates our partnership with Crowdfunder and how working together is helping to level the field for more people to be active across the country.

21st September 2023

by Neil Smith
Programme manager

In the last few years we are hearing more and more about crowdfunding. A concept that basically refers to people and/or organisations coming together to raise money in order to fund a project.

When it comes to crowdfunding in sport, we could say that this is a collaboration that, at its core, has a shared vision -  to encourage healthier lifestyles and stronger communities by making match-funding available to help the sport and physical activity sector.

This summer we celebrated the fourth anniversary of our partnership with Crowdfunder UK, and what a wonderful collaboration this has been!

Combining the expertise of this great organisation – one of the most renowned crowdfunding platforms in the country – and our commitment to investing in grassroots sports initiatives, we have created a joint endeavour that continues to redefine the landscape of sports funding.

This is how it works.

Organisations can apply for up to £10,000 in match funding to contribute to their live campaigns.

All clubs need to do is apply via the Crowdfunder UK platform, and by raising a portion of their total across a certain number of supporters, our pledge will automatically be dropped on to a live campaign.

Our main driver for the initiative was to help change the behaviour and thinking within VCSE (voluntary, community and social enterprise) organisations our sector.

Advocating self-help and empowering people to achieve success from running a campaign is key and the additional resource that we provide to achieve this, paramount.

 A common misconception is that the more deprived areas struggle to raise funds from their local communities.

However, areas with an IMD (Index of Multiple Deprivation) 1 recieve an amplification of £1.46 for every £1 of Sport England investment.

This illustrates that with regards to crowdfunding, more deprived areas may not be at a disadvantage as is commonly thought.

We have two campaigns that are examples of this partnership: Active Together - a programme to help sport and physical activity organisations move forward with priority projects and running costs that they might be struggling with; and Places and Spaces - a programme for community sport and physical activity groups looking to create, enhance or redevelop their sports facilities for the benefit of the community as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games legacy.

Sustainable funding

One of the most remarkable feedback items we have consistently received from project leads benefitting from this model, refers to the wider impact the crowdfunding experience has had on their organisations.

Aside from the financial backing, thanks to the pool of support and tools on offer, organisations have reported many benefits, including:

  • better connection to the local community
  • improved digital skills 
  • activated wider sponsorship on top of their campaigns
  • increased number of new members
  • a growing sense of togetherness throughout the organisation.

When it comes to crowdfunding in sport, we could say that this is a collaboration that, at its core, has a shared vision - to encourage healthier lifestyles and stronger communities.

Therefore, as a team, we really can’t highlight enough the full impact the fund has the potential to have on an organisation and its stakeholders.

A huge element of this was the customer experience on offer throughout the campaign and the application process.

Alongside Crowdfunder UK we have consistently championed diversity, aiming to break down barriers that hinder access to activity for underrepresented groups, something that lies at the core of our long-term strategy, Uniting the Movement, and that guides everybody’s efforts at Sport England.  

A win-win proposition 

Sport England's decision to partner with Crowdfunder UK provis proving to be a win-win proposition for all parties involved, based on the consistently high amplification figures derived from the application of this model.

Moreover, this approach to funding emphasises the value of community involvement in bringing sports projects to life.

This is because individuals, local businesses and organisations have a unique opportunity to become active stakeholders in initiatives that matter to them, investing in their communities and contributing to the nation's collective health and wellbeing.

How can you help…

We are one of a growing number of sports bodies venturing into Crowdfunding, and we are trying to further signpost its benefits to our partners.

So if you are having conversations, please do share the latest infographic and details for the webinars.

We also have some fantastic, free support tools to help you on your crowdfunding journey.

These include short courses online, monthly webinars (including an interview with past campaign owners), one-to-one support with a Crowdfunder Sport coach as well as a 24/7 help centre.   

There's also a handy guide that includes all of these details and the Crowdfunder coaches will be available to talk you through some of the most frequently asked questions.  

It's in our nature

Crowdfunding in sports makes lots of sense for a lot of people. We are, in the end, social animals and sport and physical activity are intrinsically team efforts.

Because in sport, even if you compete solo, you always have a crew behind you, guiding you and making sure you perform to the best of your ability.

And even if you prefer to be active by yourself, chances are you’re still benefitting from other’s efforts like exercising on a renovated local park.

Working together for the common good is not only human nature. It may truly highlight what’s best within us, as we’re stronger together, and together we can achieve more.

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