Canadian athletes look to crowdfunding to pay for their Olympic dream

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Winnipeg Free Press by Donna Spencer | July 11, 2013

crowdfunding Canadan athletes

Pursuit is a micro-funding platform for Canadian athletes. Photo: pursu.it

Some Canadian athletes are funding the pursuit of their Olympic dreams by giving away mementos, experiences and their own time in exchange for money. Signed race bibs and equipment, snowboard and diving lessons, personal phone calls, hand-knitted tuques, face-to-face meetings and social media "shoutouts" are on offer. The scope of the givebacks and experiences reflects the size of the donation to the athlete.

The website Pursuit — designed and operated by a pair of former athletes — is the platform for this exchange. The website blends elements of on-line shopping for unique items or experiences. Each athlete's story is told in video and print. They state their financial goal and why they need the money. Each athlete's financial campaign has a 60-day limit.

Olympic biathlete Megan Imrie of Falcon Lake, Man., was well on her way to her goal of $10,000 with over a month to go. The athletes on Pursuit offer items and access to their lives on a scale reflecting the size of the donation. So for a $20 donation, Imrie will send e-mail postcards during training and competition next season. A package of a personal telephone call, an autographed card and regular e-mail updates goes for $100. For $1,000, Imrie will package a pair of signed skis, bindings and a race bib together for the donor.

Imrie's family operates Falcon Beach Ranch, so her big-ticket offering is a two-night stay at the resort for a $5,000 donation. "People are holding onto the money more these days," Imrie says. "They want something back and it has to be creative.

"You can't just say 'this is my dream' please support it' and then that's the last they hear from you. The giveback part of it, to some people it doesn't matter, but to a lot it does. They can feel involved in my journey and feel they've got something for their money."

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