Quidditch players around the world, your time has almost come. Since your team's first practice way back in September, you've had your eye on the prize. No matter what region you live in, be it the cold Northeast or the sunny West, you've trained for weeks. You gave it your all at regionals to gain one of the most coveted positions in the quidditch community: a qualifying spot for the World Cup. You've run for miles, you've spent hours at the gym, and you've scrimmaged with all the teams in driving distance. No matter how long you prepare physically, however, one thing may stand in your way: the price tag.
Many teams have found that training for World Cup is only half the battle. Between the costs of transportation, lodging, food, and miscellaneous necessities for a roster of 21, this tournament is expensive. Of course, that hasn't stopped players from creatively finding ways to raise extra money for their quidditch dreams to come true. Numerous teams discovered the website Indiegogo, which allows them to offer rewards for those who donate a certain amount of cash to their team. While teams get to choose just what they're going to offer funders, some have gotten creative enough to reach their goal of getting to Kissimmee for April 13.
The University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON) raised C$3,104 ($3,041.92 USD) by introducing perks such as mixed CDs, personalized limericks, and a 2013 “Sexy Calendar” to donors.
“We took a look at some campaigns that had already been successful to determine what kind of perks - and at what funding level - had been most successful for other teams and tried to replicate them or come up with similar alternatives,” Clare Hutchinson, beater and president of University of Ottawa Quidditch, said. “We also asked team members if they were skilled at particular crafts or activities that they could contribute. One of our coaches, Rebecca Alley, made herself a TARDIS tote bag and so volunteered to make custom totes for funders. We had already produced our 2013 Sexy Quidkid calendar as an independent fundraiser, and so decided to add a signed copy of the calendar as a perk, as we still had some left over.”
In addition to the Indiegogo fundraiser, Hutchinson said the team also sold calendars previously, held bake sales, and applied for funding as a student club, ultimately receiving “generous sponsorship both from the president of our university, Allan Rock, and from the UOttawa School Spirit Council.”
“An Indiegogo [campaign] can't be successful on its own merits,” Hutchinson said. “You have to have the team culture, brand, and fanbase to appeal to: people have to want to support you because they like your team and your reputation. That's why we've worked so hard to cultivate our reputation as a fun-loving and sportsmanlike active-living club on campus, and it's why we've spent two years creating fans and followers on the internet and in person: that way when we create an Indiegogo campaign, the strong foundation is already there.”
Rice University (Houston, TX) has raised nearly $2,000 so far and will continue to accept donations to their page until April 14. They offer sponsors team jerseys, the most popular perk, team photographs, and even the chance to decide what color one teammate will dye her hair for World Cup.
“As a D2 team, we came to the fundraising scene later than most, so we wanted to give people unique and creative gifts for donating to separate us from everyone else who was doing Indiegogo fundraisers,” Kaitlyn Sisk, vice-president of Rice Quidditch, said. “We had seen signed brooms as perks for other teams' fundraisers, and we thought it was a cool idea. Jessica loves to dye her hair crazy colors, and we figured that might be an appealing perk to some of our friends on other teams, since she offered to dye her hair to match any team's colors. We mainly just spent a long time before starting the fundraiser thinking about what kinds of things people would want to buy, and [were] trying to be as creative and fun as possible."
New York University's (New York, New York) Quidditch team also raised an impressive amount using Indiegogo. NYU greatly surpassed their original goal of $3,145 with a final total of $5,389. Their most popular perk was the BrizzyVoices Recording, where the contributor would receive a personalized ringtone or voicemail message. They also sold out of their custom battle cry perk, which includes a World Cup match dedicated to a specific funder.
“The custom battle cry was inspired by the VCU Indiegogo,” Anna Brisbin, beater and secretary for NYU Quidditch, said. “Date A Nundu was also inspired by various other quidditch Indiegogos, but we adapted it to make it much more affordable for our donors and therefore much more appealing. We have some fans located very far from NYC so the Skype option was a real seller for people interested in meeting and talking to a player one-on-one.”
Indiegogo receives a certain percentage of funding, depending on which plan teams choose and if they reach their goal. According to Indiegogo's website, if a team chooses the flexible funding plan-meaning the team will collect however much they raise by their set deadline- Indiegogo will receive 4 percent of funds if their goal is reached or 9 percent if the team does not reach their goal. Similarly, Indiegogo will receive 4 percent of funds if a team reaches their goal while using the fixed funding plan, where the team will only collect donations if they reach or surpass their goal. However, when using this method Indiegogo will not be compensated if the team does not reach their goal and, hence, does not receive any money as their contributors are refunded.
According to Carrie Forman, an Indiegogo PR Associate, the site has hosted about 30 World Cup VI campaigns so far.
“Crowdfunding on Indiegogo offers several benefits to sports teams that are fundraising online for their first time,” Forman said. “Beyond raising money, Indiegogo creates a unique opportunity for increased access to social networks by amplifying overall exposure. Crowdfunding helps to increase the awareness of a team's campaign by making it easy to share on social media, simplifying the contribution process and opening up a channel to access funding from people outside of your primary network. For example, a university's quidditch alumni whose old team is crowdfunding to go to the World Cup will now have a significantly increased chance of knowing about and contributing to the campaign for his or her alma mater. This is the kind of unmatched interaction with the community that crowdfunding provides.”
However, Indiegogo was not beneficial for all the teams who attempted to fundraise with the site. Many teams who began using the site closer to World Cup found limited success finding funders within the quidditch community, as potential donors had already given money to other teams. The site posed a few cases of technical problems as well. The University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) dealt with many issues of the site refunding donors in the midst of their campaign.
“Our team was consistently experiencing difficulties with the Indiegogo site,” Nicté Sobrino of USC said. “Every time we received a donation, the site would automatically refund the money back to the person who donated. Every few days, after hundreds of dollars would come in, our page would display $0 fundraised, leaving both us and our donors very confused.”
According to USC, the team did contact Indiegogo who said the problem was “a glitch in their system that they would [quickly fix], although problems still arose."
Said Sobrino: “It was a really unfortunate and frustrating experience, and it stunted our fundraising efforts because people didn't want to donate multiple times or even at all because they saw how much trouble the site was giving us.”
So how do teams achieve such fundraising success? Hutchinson advises creating original rewards for a variety of price ranges and to advertise outside of the quidditch community.
“People get tapped out by multiple campaigns of the same type, so make sure you're offering something unique: perks that are unique to your team that are targeting new audiences,” Hutchinson said. “I would advise other teams to make sure they have a range of perks that appeal to all funding levels. Teams also have to make sure they're targeting their communities and networks, not just other quidditch teams. There's been a lot of insular funding within the quidditch community, which is great, and shows the strength of our support, but what's ultimately going to make an Indiegogo successful, not just as a fundraiser, but also as an outreach tool is if you can target people who aren't already giving you money: new audiences and specifically university communities are out there and if you can present them with perks that will appeal to them, they'll support you.”
Sisk, of Rice Quidditch agreed, stressing the importance of advertising and setting a high goal.
“Our fundraiser didn't really start picking up until we shared the page and had our friends share the page as well,” Sisk said. “Be creative, and make sure to pick reasonable prices for the perks and for your ultimate goal. Our fundraiser has slowed down a bit, and I think we could've set a higher goal than we did. People seem to be less willing to donate when you've already reached your goal. Also, our previous networking helped us out a lot with the fundraiser. We have connections with our alumni base and administration at Rice, and reaching out to them was really helpful.”