Pursu.it making Olympic dreams come true, $50 at a time

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Whistler Question | Andrew Mitchell | October 21, 2013

Mike Rideout Freestyle CanadaThis October marks the one-year anniversary of Pursu.it, an online crowdfunding website that was created to help Canadian athletes find the extra funding they need to compete.

The idea of crowdfunding is simple: it’s easier to ask 100 people for $10 than it is to ask 10 people for $100. Small donations can add up to big money.

Leah Skerry, who created Pursi.it with her business partner Julia Rivard, said the public response so far has been incredible. Their most recent campaign for freeskier and Olympic halfpipe hopeful Matt Margetts raised over $20,000 in just five days.

“Margetts blew all of our previous campaigns out of the water,” said Skerry. “Not many athletes have had that kind of support, but Matt is super-driven and he already had a following, which really helped.

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“It helps to have some kind of established network and to approach the campaign the same way you approach training — schedule something every day, whether it’s sending out tweets, sending a few gifts, saying thanks to supporters and fans, and Matt’s a fantastic example of that.”

In the one year since Pursu.it was created, the website has helped 23 athletes, with 13 of those athletes raising the full amount they were asking for. A few Whistler-based athletes, including snowboard athletes Alexandra Duckworth and Molly Milligan are on the list, while Andrew Matthews — who trains with the Whistler Valley Snowboard Club — was about 81 per cent funded.

The most successful campaign so far is for Milligan, an Olympic snowboard slopestyle hopeful who lives part-time in Whistler. She was asking for $4,600 and ended up with close to $7,500, 163 per cent of her goal. And then there’s the tandem of biathletes Brendan Green and Rosanna Crawford, a couple in real life with Olympic aspirations. They were looking for $13,000 to help them prepare for the Sochi Olympics, and with 16 days to go in their campaign their tally was already $19,500, or 150 per cent of their goal.

So far Pursu.it has collected funding from 73,337 fans, raising a total of $204,835 or athletes.

Sometimes there are large donations — Green and Crawford had one anonymous donation of $5,000 — but Skerry said most donations are between $50 and $100.

“The big donations skew the numbers a bit, but for the most part it’s true crowd funding and small donations,” she said.

The idea came about last year when business partners Skerry and Rivard from Norex sat down and start to think about crowdfunding ideas. Making it about athletes was an easy decision.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada crowdfunding hub providing education, advocacy and networking opportunities in the rapidly evolving crowdfunding industry. NCFA Canada is a community-based, membership-driven entity that was formed at the grass roots level to fill a national need in the market place. Join our growing network of industry stakeholders, fundraisers and investors. Increase your organization’s profile and gain access to a dynamic group of industry front runners. Learn more eBrochure | Prezi or contact us at casano@ncfacanada.org.

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