Chloe Jones oversees sport projects for Crowdfunder UK, which has recently announced a partnership with Sport England to make extra funding available to community clubs and grassroots groups to help them tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. ConnectSport spoke to Chloe about the platform and its success so far.
Hi Chloe, thanks for speaking to ConnectSport. Please can you tell us about Crowdfunder?
Crowdfunder is an online platform that enables organisations to raise money and awareness through engaging with their crowd or community. Whether that’s for a new business, a charitable cause, a new sports ground or just to keep things ticking over - you can crowdfund for it. Think old-fashioned fundraising and then digitalise it, throw in some added benefits like offering rewards to thank your supporters and encourage higher pledges, and introduce some extra funding partners (like Sport England who have made a whopping £2.5million available for sports clubs!)... that's Crowdfunder.
Can you outline the two initiatives that you have set up with Sport England?
To receive extra funding through either fund, you need to set up a crowdfunding campaign, then the funds are pledged towards your campaign to help you achieve your goal and encourage more involvement from the crowd: The first is called Return to Play: Active Together. This fund is designed to help sports clubs and organisations overcome the effects of Covid, this could be to adhere to new regulations or purely to combat the financial loss. Clubs can receive up to £10,000 in extra funding towards their crowdfunding campaign! You can read more here.
The second fund we have created in partnership with Sport England, Activate your Space, is not focused on sports clubs but rather projects that the whole community can use. This fund is targeted towards projects dedicated to enhancing the spaces in their local community that give people the opportunity to be active. Usually, this is capital works: maybe creating an outdoor gym, renovating the community centre or making an outdoor space more accessible, for example. Again, there’s up to £10,000 per project up for grabs: find out more here.
How successful has the platform been so far for community sport organisations that have signed up?
Crowdfunding has been a huge success for sports organisations. This year alone, across the two Sport England funds, organisations have raised a total of over £3.2million to help them bring activity to the community. Here’s why: sport crowdfunds really well! Crowdfunding is all about the community coming together to cheer for a common goal and I think the same can be said about sport. Crowdfunding is certainly hard work but from my experience of working with sports people, they are not scared of a challenge and I think that’s what makes them great crowdfunders.
How is the partnership helping organisations affected by restrictions on activity imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic?
It's been a hugely difficult time for sports clubs. They have had to close their doors and have lost income as a result; but they still have to maintain facilities, pay rent and now there’s new regulations in place which cost too. This is what the Return to Play: Active Together fund is all about, helping clubs to overcome all of these challenges. The aim is to encourage clubs to take a more sustainable approach to raising funds, to engage with their communities and work together to keep their club alive. A lot of clubs come to us because of the money but most will tell you that the benefits to crowdfunding are so much more than just financial (although of course - that helps!). We’re seeing club morale soaring even in such trying times, clubs are raising their profiles in the community and consequently building relationships with local businesses, sponsors and even securing new memberships.
Why do you think it is important that organisations focus more on their own sustainability?
Grants are great but they aren’t always available, there can be a long wait and they are often over-subscribed and highly competitive. This is a sustainable approach that is clearly effective (if you need proof, just check out all of the sports projects that are crowdfunding currently). For every £1 of extra funding from Sport England, clubs on average are raising £1.80 from the crowd so it's proving to be much more fruitful financially than a simple grant application and then there’s all the added benefits of raising awareness, bringing the club together and promoting it to the community. Through crowdfunding, clubs are becoming better connected within their communities, in the longer term this should provide more sustainability to help them survive and thrive in the future.