Athletes pursuing their sports dreams now have a dedicated way to gain access to much-needed funding support using the new crowdfunding site called ProQuest, which was launched this week.
“The toughest competition for our sportsmen and women is that of funding – there just isn’t enough sponsorship budget available to support these aspiring, or even professional, athletes” says Tony Harding, Founder of ProQuest, which is a ProTouch Sports initiative.
Tony has more than 20 years’ experience in managing individual and team cyclists. He also manages ProTouch Sports, an SA-based sports management company. He is well-known for having managed some of the best National, Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams – professional teams and individuals – who’ve raced in South Africa and abroad.
Tony Harding (right) Founder of ProQuest with Team ProTouch riders, Captain JC Nel and Mitch Eliot, after Eliot’s stage victory at the 2016 Clover Tour.
Crowdfunding is all about tapping in to ordinary people for small amounts of money that collectively can help to finance a project or campaign. It makes use of a network of friends, family and colleagues’ social media websites (like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to get the word out, and offers anyone an opportunity to participate directly in the funding and success of a project, through the collective efforts of like-minded individuals.
For ProQuest the platform not only promises athletes a unique and empowering way to connect with a wider audience of potential new investors to promote their project or a campaign, it also enables athletes to acknowledge that many of their fans are fanatics – insanely inspired individuals and groups – people who are enthusiastically devoted and bonded to demonstrating, promoting, participating and engaging in their support. By inviting fans to support their sporting dreams, athletes can help to fuel their love of memories – the moments captured, the interaction with other fans, the face-to-face meetings with their sporting heroes: the selfie, the autographed keepsakes, the handshake or wave, the invitation to join in.
The ProQuest platform will connect individuals and businesses, sponsors and fans, all at the touch of a button. The financial support received for a specific athlete’s campaign goes directly to that athlete to help fund not only their training and coaching, but also items such as nutrition supplements, equipment, entry fees to qualifiers, travel, and basic living expenses. ProQuest retains a 15% administration fee to administer, process and manage the marketing and collection of funds on behalf of participating athletes. The platform is similar to other crowdfunding sites, but it also has some unique features in that it caters exclusively to athletes, teams, sports organisations and sports-focused projects, and will channel money raised directly to the athlete, irrespective of whether the full financial campaign goal is reached by an athlete.
The ProQuest site is powered by the CrowdQuest platform, and there are some exciting additional features planned for the future. Athletes and teams will provide “Give Backs” to supporters who register to fund athletes who’ve set up campaigns on the site – these “Give Backs” will include an item or service offered as a thank-you by the athlete and/or team – so if you support a campaign you could find yourself riding with the athlete in a training ride, attending a breakfast or having a casual coffee and chat after a ride/race. You may even be invited to ride in the team car for a particular race.
“We have just finished our BETA testing phase, which has focused initially on cycling, but other sport disciplines will also be catered for soon. ProQuest would like anyone interested in cycling to visit us at the Standard Bank Africa Cycle Fair at St Stithians College, 21 – 23 October 2016. You can find out more about the crowdfunding platform, or show your support for South Africa’s young talent at the ProQuest High School MTB Interprovincial race on Saturday 22 October 2016. There’ll also be a Primary School Skills Clinic on Sunday 23 October 2016,” says Harding.