2,838 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
Editor’s Note: The Universiade is an international sporting event for university athletes that takes place in the summer and winter every two years. This year's summer Universiade wrapped up in Kazan, Russia just last week, and the winter games are slated to take place in Trentino, Italy, this December. In order to help fund the event, the team behind the winter Universiade decided to create the Crowdfunding Challenge, a campaign on Indiegogo that has an accompanying ‘game’ to go along with it. It’s a unique campaign and an interesting story, so we asked André Silva, the campaign creator and manager, to explain why he decided to try crowdfunding for the sporting event.
The sequence of events that ultimately led to the launch of this campaign started about one year ago, with the International University Sports Federation’s decision to assign the 26th Winter Universiade to Trentino, Italy. This decision took place after Maribor, Slovenia withdrew from hosting because of financial difficulties.
This immediately set two big challenges to all the people involved in the preparation of the event: only one year to prepare for the event, rather than the usual four; and a similarly troubled financial scenario, which demands caution and efficient use of resources.
The challenge of helping to put on the games arrived to me in the form of a phone call from a former university professor of mine, who invited me to join the team and try launching a crowdfunding campaign for the event. I quit my job and moved to Italy.
Trentino-Alto Adige is a province in northern Italy that has benefited from administrative, legal, and financial autonomy from Italy’s central government since 1948. This is a unique place with a culturally diverse population. The word of order here is ‘efficiency.’ Over the last several decades, political stability, careful planning, and an effective local government have turned the region into the ‘Italian Tech Valley.’
As a historical and highly important event featuring 13 sports and involving over 56 nations, the Universiade had to go on. Therefore, the different entities responsible for organizing it guaranteed a high level cooperation from the entire territory, as well as the necessary minimum amount of funding to ensure the most vital aspects of this competition.
That said, the crowdfunding campaign started with the aim of scaling up the Universiade by collecting funds that the organization could then direct to specific aspects of the event.
I am a true believer in the power of the crowd. With little to no regulation, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding have proved their validity time and time again. They serve as unquestionable evidence that the new technologies we created and developed in the last few decades have given us the means to radically change the paradigm and achieve what would otherwise be considered impossible. Having the crowd validate a product, event, service, company, or cause is a very efficient and democratic way of launching it.
I began thinking about what could lead a person on the other side of the world to care about this event, to the point that they would actually contribute money to it. Sure, we are offering some very interesting rewards that range from exclusive Universiade items to holiday packages in Trentino, but it quickly became obvious to me that this alone could not be the most appropriate motivation. I did my research and discovered that the economic situation in Maribor was not unique. I then began wondering what would happen to international events if the economical situation kept worsening. I realized two important facts: sporting events take place in a different location each time; and, throughout history, they have constantly promoted honorable values across all nations.
Think about it – how many occasions are there in which all countries get together on a big stage in a show of mutual understanding, communication, and friendship?
There had to be a way of fundamentally altering the organizational mechanics of these events in such a way that they could be (at least partially) sustainable, and become an economic opportunity, rather than a financial burden, for their host city. Moreover, no city or country should ever again be denied the possibility of organizing such an important event due to financial difficulties.
Each Universiade supports a given number of collateral projects, typically linked to the academic world, but budget constraints forced us to fund only a fraction of the academic research projects.
From the selection of projects featured in the campaign, some are entirely of the responsibility of the Organizing Committee of the Winter Universiade Trentino, while others are the result of partnerships established with organizations and institutions linked to the event. (It is also important to mention here that Universiade Trentino 2013 is set up as a non-profit organization.)
Given the differences in nature of the projects within the crowdfunding campaign, we set maximum funding amounts wherever approporiate. Some projects, however, can actually result in job creation or the distribution of scholarships and don’t have a specific ceiling. This means that even if we achieve all our goals, the extra funds would be channeled by the crowd to these “unlimited” projects.
The event’s organizing committee will be responsible for distributing the funds across the several projects – according to the choices of the backers – as well as of ensuring that these are realized according to the project description on the campaign website. Once the campaign ends, this website will be converted into the channel to communicate the progress and achievements of the successfully funded projects.
The financial contributions will allow us to prepare a better winter Universiade. But the crowd’s approval will ultimately validate this entire concept, and may actually change the history of international events.