Online crowdfunding has become a popular, effective and efficient means to raise funds for business ideas, art projects, and group and individual charities. Now, many people around the world are using sites such as GoFundMe.com to crowd source funds for weddings, vacations, and even Brazilian Jiu Jitsu adventures. On GoFundMe.com, the search term “Jiu Jitsu” yields 205 campaigns ranging from fundraising for community BJJ programs to bankrolling the expenses for training or a BJJ trip.
While it is easy to justify contributing to a campaign to help a sick friend or family member, a person down on their luck, or a local charity, it is a much harder sell to convince somebody to donate hard earned money to somebody else’s Jiu Jitsu vacation or training. In several BJJ related GoFundMe.com campaigns, there are words like “passion”, “dreams”, and “inspiring” commonly used to pitch why their campaigns should be funded. Most people who work and save their money while raising a family would respond with something like this:
“My kids are my passion and my dream is to take them to Disney World this summer. I am working overtime to make it happen. If BJJ is really your dream and you want to inspire people, get a job and save your money to fund your trips and adventures rather than beg on the internet.”
I share this same viewpoint, but have given in to donating to frivolous crowdfunding campaigns in the past. I am compelled by people who are really driven and not just asking for a handout. These individuals made viable selling points that are win-win for both parties, showed they will be responsible with the funds given to them, appreciated the funds donated, and exhibited they are really making an effort to make their dreams into reality rather than sitting back like a dirty hippie looking for a free ride.
Here are a few tips for grapplers looking to put together winning crowdfunding campaigns.
Be straightforward: Give the quick pitch and don’t give BS reasons like “inspiring others” or “show my kid dad’s a winner and he could be too.” You want to travel to compete or train and you are asking for funds. So just ask for it. There is nothing wrong with being upfront and saying “It’s about me and I want to travel here to win this because it is my dream.”
Provide detailed breakdown of costs- Many campaigns just list an amount of money needed without a breakdown. By showing an itemized breakdown of costs and how funds will be allocated, people will take your campaign more seriously. I recently viewed a campaign from a BJJ practitioner from Dallas who was asking for $2,000 to travel to Las Vegas to compete at a tournament for a weekend with no breakdown of how the funds will be used. I was bored and decided to breakdown costs. A Southwest Flight would run $250 for a round trip between Dallas and Las Vegas, a budget hotel would run $200 for 3 days/2 nights, tournament entry fees run $150, food for 3 days would cost $100, and miscellaneous expenses like taxis and toiletries would run $100 as well. So why does this guy need $2,000 for a trip that can be done for $800? One can only wonder. Here is a great example of a campaign breaking down costs.
Show you have contributed funds to your trip- Rather than simply asking for money from others, show people that you have made an honest effort to earn the money on your own and that you are contributing to the trip. If you really want to travel and compete, show that you are working as an Uber driver, bartending or working some second job to be as self-sufficient as possible. Even list that you have saved $500, but still need another $500 to make it happen.
Give contributors something of value back– I have campaigns where if you donate $100, you will get a shout out on a podcast or a $5 t-shirt from the trip. Instead, why not list a tiered donation level that includes a invitation to workshops or seminars for a $25 donation, a private lesson for a $50 donation, 3 private lessons for $100 donation, and sponsorship space on your gi or rashguard. Again, this would show more drive, initiative, and creativity than just asking for money or offering lame trinkets.
Don’t spam your friends and teammates- Post your link on your Facebook and maybe even send out ONE email your friends, family, and teammates a link to donate, but don’t pester or spam people. While Girl Scout cookie sales solicitations are encouraged and appreciated in most locker rooms, repeatedly asking somebody to donate to your campaign can create awkward situations since the financial situations vary from person to person and some people just aren’t interested in donating to your cause.