Competition in sports is fierce, but for athletes like Monika Klisara, sometimes the bigger challenge is acquiring enough funds to train and prepare for tournaments.
This was the reality facing David Ancor and Michael Shpigleman, two competitive judokas who decided to start a crowd-funding initiative known as Makeachamp, to help athletes pay for costs of competing.
“Makechamp is a way for them to get funding and continue to focus on training,” says Ancor.
When Klisara, a first-year Ryerson student and international karate athlete, understood she would have to fund her trip to the 2014 Karate Canada nationals in B.C., she didn’t think she would be signing up for an altered workout regime.
In between sending opponents crashing to the ground with roundhouse kicks and disabling them with knife-hand strikes, Klisara shovelled snow and performed physical work for others in exchange for donations.
A similar routine of waxing cars and painting fences may have worked for Daniel Larusso in The Karate Kid, but Klisara was unsatisfied.
She realized that the time and effort she was putting into fundraising was becoming detrimental.
“I quickly came to the conclusion that during that time that I was trying to raise funds, I was losing training time, so it was a lose-lose situation for me,” she says.
Klisara found out about makeachamp.com through Twitter. After retweeting one of Makeachamp’s motivational quotes, she checked out their platform to find out what they were all about.
“I chose Makeachamp because I feel like the team behind the site is very strong and determined to help athletes like them succeed,” she says.
She also found that sharing her “Gold Digging” campaign online would be an easy way to get others involved.
She started her campaign about two months ago and has raised $350. She has one week left to raise her $1,000 goal.
“I believe it’s the best way for me to raise funds because it’s a quick and easy way to get the attention of the public and possible contributors,” Klisara says.
The 17-year-old business management student is currently a member of Canada’s national and Ontario’s provincial karate team. She’s won multiple provincial gold medals and is a two-time national silver medallist.
The funds she raises will help pay her transportation costs to B.C., as well as her registration fees for the competition.
Klisara says the ticket to B.C. alone is $1,200. On top of that, Klisara has to pay $85 for each category she decides to compete in. She is competing in three categories so she will have to shell out $255 before she can set foot on the competition floor.
The first Makeachamp campaign was started by Ancor, its co-founder, to help raise funds to cover his own training expenses – like travel, gym memberships and equipment.
“Many athletes spend their time training and don’t have any time for a job,” Ancor says.
Instead of reaching out to sponsors, government or school assistance, more and more athletes are taking to crowd-funding to rally the financial support they need.
Makeachamp officially launched as a fundraising platform for competitive athletes in 2012. It operates as an independent institution, with no banks or investors contributing to the funds given to athletes. The funds cover expenses such as flight tickets, accommodations, equipment, as well as medical expenses.
Athletes create their campaign through makeachamp.com. They can upload their personal story and spread the word by reaching out to friends and family through Twitter and Facebook.
Part of the process requires athletes to choose how they can reward their contributors and supporters. Aside from acknowledging them with a public thank you, athletes have also been known to give supporters a gift from their travels, an old medal or even a workout plan.
Julien Cousineau has been on Canada’s national alpine ski team since 1998. His most memorable moments came in 2010, when he finished fifth at the World Cup in Austria and when he placed eighth at the Vancouver Olympics. The skier finished fifth at the 2011 World Championships in Germany.
Cousineau found out about Makeachamp when the group followed him on Twitter. He researched the crowd-funding initiative and soon after started his “Continuing the Dream” campaign with hopes of raising $25,000.
“I get charged a lot of money to be on the team,” says Cousineau.
His Makeachamp campaign page says the skier needs to pay $27,500 in team fees just to compete in the World Cup and Olympics.
Cousineau was able to raise $12,630 through Makeachamp.
“I wasn’t expecting to get it all,” he says, but was happy getting within the range of $10,000 to $12,000.
Cousineau understands that every little bit helps.
“At the end of the day, $25 can make a difference.”