Crowdfunding is a type of fundraising that encourages people to donate to a project via a specific campaign.

Often done through dedicated online platforms, community organisations can use crowdfunding to help them raise money for projects of all sizes from refurbishing facilities to buying new equipment or covering running costs for specific events.

What is crowdfunding?

There are several ways of raising crowdfunding, the two most relevant to sports clubs and groups are:

  • Donation-based crowdfunding. This is where large numbers of people are encouraged to contribute to a project, even if it’s just a small amount, without expecting anything in return. For this approach to work, your contributors will need to really believe in your project and/or your organisation.
  • Rewards-based crowdfunding. This is where people are encouraged to contribute in return for a reward. Rewards usually reflect the amount donated, so ‘better’ rewards go to those who contribute more money. For sports organisations, rewards could range from tickets to training sessions, wall plaques, named seats, certificates or free merchandise. Alternatively, you can ask members to contribute skills or services as rewards, or get local businesses or sponsors to donate things like free meals out, experiences or tickets to events and more. This can encourage the wider community to get involved, not just those who might have an interest in your organisation or sport.

The other types of crowdfunding include equity-based crowdfunding, where contributors invest in the organisation often in return for shares, and loan-based crowdfunding (or peer-to-peer lending) where people loan you money that your organisation agrees to repay, with a set interest rate.

This page focuses on donation-based and rewards-based crowdfunding, but you can click here for more on community shares investment, a type of equity-based crowdfunding.

Benefits of crowdfunding include:

  • Strengthening community links. Crowdfunding campaigns are always public facing, which can raise awareness of your organisation. They give people within your organisation and your wider community clear goals that can be achieved by working together and can boost morale. Having the backing of your community can have lasting benefits, such as creating new partnerships and being able to demonstrate local support to investors and funders.  
  • It is usually free to get started. In the first instance, it is usually free to set up your campaign on a crowdfunding platform. Many platforms will offer you support to help you manage your project through access to things like free webinars, guides etc.
  • It is faster than some other fundraising methods. If your campaign is successful, the money will be released after the campaign deadline. Other methods, like applying for grants, can take much longer.
  • It can develop your marketing skills. Crowdfunding relies on good marketing and there is lots of great advice available to help you. The skills and practices you develop through your campaign, like using social media and creating videos, can help you to gain new supporters and help to boost your organisation’s marketing going forward.

However, there are some considerations to be aware of, including:

  • Some platforms take a fee. Although it is usually free to set up a campaign, some platforms take a percentage of the total funds raised. This is often fixed, so research this beforehand and factor it into your final target.
  • Some platforms are ‘All or Nothing’. Some platforms return all donations to contributors if you don’t reach your target. This can make it easier to encourage people to donate because of the urgency, but may mean you end up with nothing so make sure you set realistic targets. Some platforms offer flexible funding where you can keep what you raise if you don’t reach your targets but the average amounts donated tend to be lower.
  • Marketing can make or break your campaign. People will want to find out more about an organisation before donating, so not having effective marketing tools like an easy-to-use website or social media presence may limit your campaign’s success.

People might decide to donate to your crowdfunding campaign for lots of reasons, such as:

  • Having a personal connection or interest in your project or organisation – for example, if they, a family member or friend are a part of your organisation and the end result will have a benefit for them.
  • Having an interest in any rewards or experience you might be offering.
  • Wanting to give back to the community or do good for others. These people pledge because they see your project’s potential to have a positive impact on their community, area or sport and have no expectation of receiving anything in return.

Through the Active Together fund, Sport England and Crowdfunder have seen that up to a third of donors give to crowdfunding campaigns they have no personal connection to, meaning they are driven by the rewards on offer or a desire to do good.

When setting up a crowdfunding campaign, consider how you can meet the motivations people might have for donating. Effectively showcasing the story of your organisation and your project can be key to this because it will help people understand its importance and potential impact. This can also help you to create ‘advocates’ across your community, who will help to spread the word about what you’re trying to achieve.

When setting up your campaign, there are some key things to think about before you get started. These include:

  • What you are raising funds for and why? Make sure you will be able to clearly explain this to potential donors.
  • How you will tell your story? Your story will be key to introducing your organisation to people and encouraging them to donate, especially if they don’t know you. Be sure you’re showcasing the positive impact of your project. Introduce your organisation and try to include a short video and any images to sell your project, the benefits it will bring and introduce some of the people involved.
  • How much money you need to raise? Be realistic about your target to give your campaign the best chance of success, so consider factors like your ability to reach people through social media following, existing community links or size of membership. This is especially important if using an ‘all or nothing’ platform.
  • Who is going to be involved? Campaigns can be hard work and need lots of different skills, so putting a small team with specific tasks together can help.
  • What you can offer to donors? The wider the variety of rewards you offer, the greater reach you will have in your community. Rewards shouldn’t overstretch your organisation, but should still be appealing.
  • How long you will fundraise for? Larger targets may take more time to achieve, whereas shorter campaigns will encourage people to donate there and then, so set a timescale that fits your project’s needs. 4-6 weeks is thought to be the best option, leaving enough time to raise awareness but still creating a sense of urgency.

There are a number of crowdfunding platforms available online, some of which also have guidance and support on setting up and running your campaign. Platforms include:

Be sure to do some research into the platforms available, to compare factors like the percentage of total donations they might take, the support available, how easy it is to use the platform, whether they offer rewards-based crowdfunding, and if they provide access to funding from other partners as well.

Sport England and Crowdfunder have teamed up to offer up to £10,000 in match funding under their Active Together fund. The fund has supported over 500 campaigns to date, using a rewards-based crowdfunding model. It was created initially to support organisations through the Covid-19 pandemic, with a gradual move into recovery. 

There is a wealth of wraparound support, advice and guidance available for this fund, to help organisations potentially try crowdfunding for the very first time. This includes free 1-2-1 coaching, monthly webinars, weekly drop-in sessions, online courses and lots of hints on tips on what makes a successful campaign.  Click here to find out more about the fund and how to get involved.

Below are links to a few different examples of successful crowdfunding campaign from sports clubs and groups:

You can find more examples on Crowdfunder’s ‘Crowdfund Sport’ page.


Last modified: Monday, 10 January 2022, 1:21 PM